We observe “World AIDS Day” every year to commemorate and stand in solidarity with those affected or who passed away due to HIV and other AIDS-related diseases. HIV related infections have involved the human race since long back.
Globally, the statistics are staggering, with about 37.7 million people were living with HIV in 2020. It has been 40 years since the first case of AIDS was reported, and it still threatens the world today. Hence, the U.S.A. has taken up initiatives to put an end to the deadly disease by 2030(1)
HIV & Stigma
HIV directly impacts the physical health of the affected person. However, the social stigma and pessimism concerning the disease have been responsible for the patient’s deteriorating mental and social health. Lack of information, people’s prejudices have instilled a sense of fear among them. They fear catching HIV. This division and disparity have caused HIV to be still a global health issue and has delayed the process to eradicate it temporarily. COVID-19 has further aggravated the process, making it difficult for people who have AIDS to get help.
Hence this year, the theme for World’s AIDS Day for 2021 is “End Inequalities. End AIDS”. The theme aims to stop the inequalities surrounding AIDS and accelerate the process of eradicating it. (2) The inequalities prove to be a significant hindrance in solving this world crisis.
Even during the current COVID crisis, these barriers have slowed down the economic growth and made it difficult to restore stability to the system. Hence, taking positive steps in this direction will aid the ailing ones and help in society’s overall growth.
Need for awareness
At least 160,000 Americans are unaware of the fact that they are carrying this disease. (3) This data includes people from all communities. Early detection will help curb the disease and support the individual, improving individuals’ mental and physical health. CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention), HRSA(The Health Resources and Services Administration), IHS(Indian Health Service), SAMHSA(Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) are a few agencies that are working relentlessly to increase HIV testing in health centres, emergency units, community-based organisations and different facilities like bars, parks, schools, etc.
It is important to note that strategies and guidelines are being created to extend help to anyone diagnosed with HIV. The medicines suppress the viral infection, enabling them to live longer, healthier and happier lives. They also reduce the chances of sexually transmitting the disease to their partner.
Amends in the social, political, and economic policies must be made to deal with the crisis at hand. Steps should be taken to include marginalised communities and treat them equally.
It is time for governments to put their resolution into action. Discriminatory laws and regulations must come to an end with immediate effect. On 29th November 2021, UNAIDS raised a red alert stating that issues relating to inequality could result in 7.7 million AIDS-related deaths only in the course of the next ten years if not dealt with. (4) Hence, it is time to put up a united front and work in unison against HIV and the adversities caused by it.
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