April 18, 2024 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day, designated on Dec.1st each year, was first observed in 1988. 

This year, similar to previous years, organizations and individuals across the world bring attention to the HIV epidemic, endeavor to increase HIV awareness and knowledge, speak out against HIV stigma, call for an increased response to move toward ending the HIV pandemic and honor those who have died from the disease. 

In 2019, there were still 38 million people living with HIV infection. One in five people living with HIV were not aware of their infection and one in 3 people receiving HIV treatment experienced disruption to the supply of HIV treatments, testing and prevention services, especially children and adolescents.

The global HIV epidemic is not over and may be accelerating during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately despite significant efforts progress in scaling up HIV services was already stalling before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Slowing progress means the world will be missing the “90-90-90” targets for 2020, which were to ensure that: 90% of people living with HIV are aware of their status; 90% of people diagnosed with HIV are receiving treatment; and 90% of all people receiving treatment have achieved viral suppression. Missing these intermediate targets will make it even more difficult to achieve the end of AIDS by 2030.

COVID makes it difficult and dangerous for frontline health workers to deliver continuous, high quality HIV services to everyone who needs them. Sickness and restricted movement make it difficult for people living with HIV to access services.

On World AIDS Day 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) is calling on global leaders and citizens to rally for “global solidarity” to overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19 on the HIV response.  WHO has chosen to focus on “Global solidarity, resilient HIV services” as the WHO theme for World AIDS Day this year.

The WHO held an online seminar on World AIDS Day, covering global efforts to ensure global solidarity and resilient HIV services, including during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many celebrities took to social media to honor World AIDS Day and Grammy winning singer Elton John took the opportunity to honor Dr. Anthony Fauci. 

Fauci is popularly known as trying to educate the public about the Coronavirus but his work on the global HIV/AIDS crisis earned him praise from the iconic singer Elton John. 

Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, served as the National Institutes of Health’s AIDS coordinator before becoming the first director of the NIH’s Office of AIDS Research, where he served from 1988 to 1994. 

He helped create the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a program started in 2003 under President George W. Bush to help save the lives of those with HIV/AIDS in the developing world. 

Fauci expressed optimism when asked if he believed we would see an AIDS free world but said work to combat the deadly disease must persist. 

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