Has the HIV campaign been a victim of its own success?

Sixty year old musician and songwriter, Steve Schalchlin, diagnosed with HIV in the early 1990s warns of complacency over HIV amongst the younger generation. This complacency has set in, and is perhaps also a result of the global retreat in funding of HIV programmes as less money is allocated towards prevention education.

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Steve Schalchlin describes the early years of the HIV epidemic as a ‘holocaust’ that decimated affected communities in San Francisco and New York. Lack of knowledge surrounding HIV led to isolation and intense discrimination of People Living with HIV/AIDS. (PLWHA) People were scared of being in the same room.

Forty years after, the landscape has changed. We owe much to the early HIV/AIDS activists who demanded and saw that funding was apportioned to research, leading to treatment and support for people living with HIV/AIDS, positive strategies to prevent the spread of HIV and reduced social stigma.

But ironically, it is this success which may undermine efforts to reach UNAIDS 2015 targets. As HIV/AIDS has changed from a deadly to chronic disease due to the availability of Antiretrovirals, there are concerns that many are lax about practicing preventative measures.

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As HIV advocates, we must all remain vigilant in keeping the realities of HIV in the spotlight.

  • In 2011, the number of PLWHA worldwide increased by 2.5 million, with a total number of 34 million

  • HIV prevalence is increasing amongst affected communities

  • Globally, only 54% of people who need treatment receive it

  • Many people remain unaware of their HIV status. It is estimated that 50% of people are unaware they are living with HIV.

  • The funding shortfall for HIV was estimated at 7.7 billion in 2009 and is growing

  • PLWHA in their 50s and 60s are only now discovering ways that virus accelerates the ageing process

Share this knowledge and increase awareness on HIV in your community.

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