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World Aids Day: Why It Is Celebrated; Theme For 2021 & Much More

Since 1988, 1st December of every year is designated as World AIDS Day. It is an international day dedicated to specifically raising awareness about the AIDS pandemic which is caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who have died of the disease

Dimple Gupta
World Aids Day
World Aids Day

Since 1988, 1st December of every year is designated as World AIDS Day. It is an international day dedicated to raise awareness about the AIDS pandemic which is caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who have died of the disease.

AIDS is a life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The virus attacks the immune system and reduces the resistance to other ‘diseases’. Often government and health officials, non-governmental organizations, and individuals around the world observe this day with education on AIDS prevention and control.

As of 2017, AIDS has killed between 28.9 million and 41.5 million people worldwide, and an estimated 36.7 million people are living with this disease. These numbers make it one of the most important global public health issues in recorded history. In 2020, around 37 million people worldwide were living with HIV, and 680,000 deaths had occurred in that year. 20.6 million Of these live in eastern and southern Africa. From the early 1980s when AIDS was identified and in 2020, the disease has caused 36 million deaths worldwide.

Thanks to the recent antiretroviral treatment, the death rates from the AIDS epidemic in many regions of the world, have decreased since its peak in 2005 (1 million in 2016, compared to 1.9 million in 2005).

What is HIV AIDS?

Human immunodeficiency virus infection (HIV) or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a stretch of conditions that are caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which is a retrovirus. At the initial stage, a person may not notice any symptoms or may experience a brief period of influenza/common cold-like illness. Symptoms can be a no-show even in a prolonged period.

But if the infection progresses, it starts to interfere more with the immune system, which increases the risk of developing infections such as tuberculosis, opportunistic infections, and even tumors, which can be otherwise rare in people who have a normal immune function. These late symptoms of infection are referred to as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). This stage is often associated with unintended weight loss.

HIV primarily spread through unprotected sex, contaminated blood transfusions, hypodermic needles, and from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding. Some bodily fluids like – saliva, sweat, and tears do not transmit the virus.

Theme for 2021

The theme for this year is 'End Inequalities, End Aids, End Pandemics'. UNAIDS is emphasizing the urgent need to address the disparities that fuel AIDS and other pandemics around the world on World AIDS Day.

Without aggressive action to address disparities, the world risks missing the 2030 AIDS targets, as well as a long-term COVID-19 pandemic and a spiraling social and economic crisis. HIV continues to menace the world forty years after the first cases of AIDS were recorded. Today, the world is falling short of meeting its common goal of ending AIDS by 2030, not due to a lack of knowledge or instruments to combat the disease, but due to structural inequities that hinder proven HIV prevention and treatment methods.

If we are to end AIDS by 2030, we must address economic, social, cultural, and legal inequities as soon as possible. Although there is a notion that a time of crisis is not the best moment to focus on addressing underlying social inequities, it is evident that the crisis will not be overcome unless this is done.

Combating inequality has long been a global promise, and the need of doing so has only grown. As part of the Sustainable Development Goals, all governments promised to minimize disparities within and between countries in 2015. Ending inequalities is at the heart of the Global AIDS Strategy 2021–2026: End Inequalities, End AIDS, and the Political Declaration on AIDS adopted at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on AIDS in 2021.

Inequalities must be addressed not just to end AIDS, but also to promote the human rights of critical communities and persons living with HIV, to better prepare society to combat COVID-19 and other pandemics, and to support economic recovery and stability. The pledge to address disparities will save millions of lives and benefit society as a whole if it is kept. Ending disparities, on the other hand, necessitates radical change.

Political, economic, and social policies must preserve everyone's rights while also addressing the needs of disadvantaged and marginalized groups. We know how to defeat AIDS, as well as the disparities that block progress and how to address them. Policies to reduce inequality can be adopted, but they will require decisive leadership.

Governments must now take steps to put their commitments into effect. Governments must encourage social and economic progress that is inclusive. To promote equal opportunity and lessen inequities, they must repeal discriminatory laws, policies, and practices. It is past time for governments to follow through on their commitments. They must take action immediately, and we must hold them accountable.

Let us remind our governments on World AIDS Day that global disparities impact us all, regardless of who we are or where we come from. Let us demand action on World AIDS Day to abolish disparities and AIDS, as well as all other pandemics that thrive on inequalities.

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