New Delhi: observed on 1 December every year, is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. Government and health officials observe the day, often with speeches or forums on the AIDS topics. Since 1995, the President of the United States has made an official proclamation on World AIDS Day. Governments of other nations have followed suit and issued similar announcements.
HIV/AIDS remains a major global issue, having claimed more than 36 million lives so far since the discovery of the virus more than 20 years ago. The thought of contracting HIV is frightening due to several good reasons- the disease is currently incurable, it spreads quickly and there is no vaccine to protect against it.
According to the World Health Organization, there were approximately 35.3 [32.2–38.8] million people living with HIV in 2012. This approximate also includes 2.1 million adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 who are living with HIV. Sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected region with nearly 1 in every 20 adults living with HIV.
According to the current NACO data, India has achieved an overall reduction of 57 percent in estimated annual new HIV infections (among adult population) from 0.274 million in 2000 to 0.116 million in 2011. While India has 2.4 million HIV-positive people, it’s estimated that out of these, 61% are male, 39% are female and 3.5% children.
Since the inception of World AIDS Day in 1988, it has been observed on December 1 every year with different themes. The theme for this year is “Getting to Zero”- means zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.
The theme will be repeated until 2015, focusing on “Zero AIDS Related Deaths” as well as pushing towards better access to treatment for all. The theme also urges governments around the world to fight the lethal disease by keeping the commitments they have made.