“Health is a human right. Health must be a top investment priority to achieve universal health coverage. On this World AIDS Day let us recognize that, to overcome COVID-19 and end AIDS, the world must stand in solidarity and share responsibility." United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres
Every year, on 1 December, the world commemorates World AIDS Day. It is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Significant progress has been made in the AIDS response since 1988, and today three in four people living with HIV know their status.
As the UNAIDS report shows, around the world 38 million people are living with HIV, the highest number ever. Yet a quarter do not know that they have the virus. Knowing your HIV status has many advantages. It also enables people to make informed decisions about HIV prevention options, including services to prevent children from becoming infected with HIV, male and female condoms, harm reduction services for people who inject drugs, voluntary medical male circumcision and pre-exposure and post-exposure prophylaxis. HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and care services are all being disrupted particularly in countries with fragile heath systems.
The global HIV epidemic is not over and may be accelerating during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a devastating impact on communities and countries. Any slowing down in provision of these services will leave many vulnerable populations at greater risk of HIV infection and AIDS-related deaths. Nevertheless, all over the world, health workers and community representatives are doing their utmost to keep services going, adopting innovative ways to overcome disruptions in services caused by COVID-19.
On World AIDS Day 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is calling on global leaders and citizens to rally for global solidarity in order to overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic on the HIV response. WHO has chosen to focus on “Global solidarity, resilient HIV services” as the theme for World AIDS Day this year.
We at the World Assembly Youth (WAY) consider World AIDS Day important because it reminds the public and government that HIV has not gone away there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice, and improve education. We also acknowledge that it is imperative for young people to have access to adequate information about preventive measures and treatments so that it will enable them to avoid high risk and decrease death rate caused by the pandemic. Eliminating stigma and discrimination, putting people at the centre and grounding our responses in human rights and gender responsive approaches are key to ending the colliding pandemics of HIV and COVID-19.
Our effort in providing the right information about HIV/AIDS is not only the publication of our book pertaining to HIV/AIDS but also our continuous research performed so that the latest information and data are available for young people. Let us urge everyone particularly young people to contribute their efforts. By joining our efforts, we will be able to decrease the access gap in terms of prevention, treatment, and care of HIV/AIDS.
It is through global solidarity and shared responsibility that we shall beat the COVID-19 pandemic, end the AIDS epidemic, and guarantee the right to health for all.