#WorldAIDSDay has been held every year since 1988 around the world. It is an opportunity for HIV advocates around the world to unite in the fight against HIV and show their support for people living with HIV and commemorate those who died. Globally an estimated 34 million people are living with HIV. In the Asia Pacific region, the AIDS response in #GettingtoZero has seen some great successes such as the growing number of people receiving life-saving ART, increase in domestic financing and more focus on addressing stigma and discrimination. Effective community leadership in the region has led to organized, dynamic and innovative methods and activities towards #endingAIDS.
However as the UNAIDS 2013 Report has shown, there are risks that the efforts in the Asia Pacific region may stagnate. We are seeing new HIV epidemics in local geographic areas and among key populations such as men who have sex with men (MSM), sex workers and people who inject drugs (PWIDs). Only 1 in 2 female sex workers, and 1 in 3 MSM and PWID in the region are aware of their HIV status. Every hour, there are 40 new infections. Discriminatory laws and policies, such as the reinstatement of Section 377 in India and a recent strike down of a constitutional challenge to Section 377A in Singapore mean that MSM are criminalized and discouraged from accessing HIV prevention, care and support services.
The pace of progress needs to be redoubled in order sustain past achievements, drive results and meet global AIDS targets by the end of 2015. World AIDS Day is an opportunity to remind the public and governments that HIV has not gone away. We still need a spotlight on HIV. We need to spread awareness on old and new prevention technologies such as condoms, PrEP and microbicides, and make sure that people can access their right to quality health care and treatment that is respectful and compassionate.
So what can you do on World AIDS Day 2014? Take inspiration from National AIDS Trust in the UK where people organize events, share resources, organize fundraisers, link up with existing campaigns or simply wear a Red Ribbon on the Day to show solidarity and intent to #endHIV.
HIV Advocates has been running a social media campaign to fight the stigma and discrimination that are major challenges towards fighting AIDS. Share HIV Advocates New Research Agenda: #IntoleranceVaccine, #AntiViolenceCondom and #AntiHatePill. Visit the HIV Advocates website for more on what community-based groups do everyday to #endHIV. Get the public talking, start a conversation, and learn how to put knowledge into action.
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