The World AIDS Day is commemorated annually on 1 December. It is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to honour those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. The global HIV epidemic is not over and it is accelerating with a devastating impact on communities and countries. 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.
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. Although there is a perception that a time of crisis is not the right time to prioritise tackling the underlying social injustices, it is clear that without doing so the crisis cannot be overcome. Hence, the theme for the World AIDS Day 2021 is ‘End inequalities. End AIDS. End pandemics’. Without bold action against inequalities, the world risks missing the targets to end AIDS by 2030, as well as a prolonged COVID-19 pandemic and a spiralling social and economic crisis.
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 and 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. 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.
Economic, social, cultural and legal inequalities must be ended as a matter of urgency if we are to end AIDS by 2030. 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 end inequalities, AIDS, and other pandemics, and guarantee the right to health for all.