With so many global concerns today, both virus related and non-virus related, it’s understandable how issues may slip into the background. Monday, December 1st was World AIDS Day. The day of awareness seemed to take little grip in the news with competition like the ongoing Ebola epidemic, unrest in the Middle East, and widespread national protests; however, that does not make the issue any less pressing.
The HIV/AIDS statistics from the World Health Organization remain daunting. In 2013, there were approximately 35 million people living with HIV. Since the beginning of the epidemic, about 78 million people have been infected with HIV, and 39 million have died from an AIDS related condition. The theme for the awareness day was: “Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-Free Generation”. Although idealistic, I believe it is the goal we should be striving towards.
A way that public health officials are looking to achieve this and lessen the global impact of the disease is by “closing the gaps”. Closing the gap to no new HIV infections; in 2013 there was 2.1 million. Closing the gap to zero AIDS related deaths; in 2013 there was 1.5 million. Closing the treatment gap; in 2013 37% of infected people had access to antiretroviral therapy.
Although all of these numbers seem daunting (and they are) we are closing these gaps, and progress is being made as seen by the following work:
Education about preventing HIV and discussions of HIV/AIDS must continue in the future for us to continue to improve these numbers.
- Eddie Irvine