Today is World AIDS Day. In Canada we mark World AIDS Day by making a donation to CANFAR and wearing the red ribbon symbolizing the fight against the spread of HIV and AIDS.
From the World AIDS Day Message by the World Health Organization’s Acting Director-General Dr Anders Nordström:
In August this year, at the XVI International AIDS Conference, 30 000 of us came together in Toronto in reply to the Conference’s call to action. That action, we agreed, must reflect a balanced mix of prevention, treatment and care. This year’s World AIDS Day theme “Accountability” reminds us again of our responsibility for making the right choices.
In Toronto, I spoke on the three areas in which we had to take action: the three “Ms” of Money, Medicines and a Motivated workforce.
The three areas:
Money: We have made some important progress and continue to do so. For example, just over half of the latest round of grants from the Global Fund – which totalled US$846 million – will go to fight HIV/AIDS. Continued commitment is needed and resources must be used effectively. Accountability is an important theme for those who want to see the best possible results in terms of human lives.
Medicines: Our goal remains to scale up international efforts to provide universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support services.The ten-fold increase in people on treatment in sub-Saharan Africa in recent years shows that we can do it. Sub-Saharan Africa also illustrates what still has to be done: it represents 70% of the global unmet need for treatment.
The latest AIDS epidemic update from WHO and the UNAIDS Secretariat, released on 21 November, gives us the most accurate picture of the epidemic to date. HIV surveillance remains weak in almost all regions, particularly among marginalized groups. Those at highest risk—men who have sex with men, sex workers, and injecting drug users—are not reliably reached through HIV prevention and treatment strategies.
At the Toronto Conference there was a powerful drive to address the needs of those who bear the greatest burden of the AIDS epidemic – women and girls. Some 40% of new HIV infections now occur among young people aged between 15 to 24 years. The most striking increases in the number of people living with HIV have occurred in East Asia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
A Motivated health workforce: Motivated and skilled health workers who can provide essential services are the crucial missing link in many countries. WHO’s “Treat, Train Retain” plan for a healthy and well supported healthcare workforce is being developed now in 15 countries.