The first case of AIDS was diagnosed on this day in 1981. World AIDS Day was observed for the first time on December 1, 1988, after a summit of health ministers from around the world called for a spirit of social tolerance and a greater exchange of information on HIV/AIDS. World AIDS Day aims to strengthen the global effort to face the AIDS pandemic, which continues to spread in all regions of the world and to encourage public support for programs to prevent the spread of HIV infection and to provide education and awareness of issues surrounding HIV/AIDS.
Starting this year and running through 2010, the theme of World AIDS Day will remain “Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise”, emphasizing the importance of holding governments and the international community accountable for their commitments to stop AIDS.
STOP AIDS. KEEP THE PROMISE.
More than 40 million men, women and children are infected with HIV.
In 2005 so far, about 5 million more men, women and children have been infected.
More than 25 million men, women and children have already died of AIDS.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) warns that in the absence of treatment, as many as 74 million workers could die from HIV/AIDS-related causes by 2015.
Last September, while attending a major U.N. summit on development, world leaders pledged to implement the Declaration of Commitments they had adopted in 2001. They promised to intensify efforts for prevention, treatment, care, and support.
But independent groups campaigning for international action against AIDS doubt if the governments will take their promises seriously. “We have been asked to stomach year after year of rhetorical statements disguised as comments on AIDS,” says Marcel Van Soest, executive director of the World AIDS Campaign. “The litany of broken promises now rings hollow against the unrelenting advance of the epidemic throughout the world,” he adds.
In a new report titled “Promises, Promises…” the group notes that many previous declarations on AIDS that were seen at the time as “commitments and promises,” simply restate the current understanding of the epidemic, and avoid committing to concrete deliveries.
Disguised payments to our drug companies (at full, and obscenely inflated retail prices) in combination with global gag rule strings-attached policies do not provide what anyone could responsibly call an ethical aid package.
Abstinence-only sex education is not only ineffective, but also dangerous.
July 1, 2005 In January, officials from President Bush’s $15 billion anti-AIDS program issued a news release citing their accomplishments. Nowhere were the numbers more impressive than in Botswana, where 32,839 AIDS patients were receiving life-extending treatment with the help of the U.S. government, they said. But thousands of miles away in Botswana, the Bush administration’s claim provoked frustration and anger among public and private partners that had built Africa’s most far-reaching AIDS treatment program, recalled those involved. Although the Bush program had promised millions of dollars of support, no money had yet arrived, they said. The operations manager of Botswana’s treatment program, Segolame Ramotlhwa, called the U.S. figures “a gross misrepresentation of the facts.” The number of patients in Botswana who had been put on treatment because of the Bush program: ZERO
From ActUp New York:
Bush has put the fight against AIDS and sex education into the hands of the right-wing Christers and condom opponents and the abstinence-only crowd is crippling AIDS-prevention efforts, both at home (where the CDC has just reported a dramatic upsurge in new HIV infections) and abroad. By insisting that no fed dollars can be used for anything smacking of birth control or condoms. . . Bush has decimated AIDS education and prevention programs around the world. . . .
The effects of denying people access to condoms and science-based sex ed, not to mention the continuing efforts by the U.S. to blackmail countries on access to AIDS drugs and sabotage the WTO agreement at Doha that public-health crises take precedence over patents, means that millions and millions more will become infected and die between now and 2050, the earliest possible date by which — the scientists now tell us — we might reasonably begin to hope for an AIDS cure. These are not just people who’ve had sex, but their many children. That’s more than Saddam Hussein has killed, more than will be killed in the coming war (unless Dubya starts chucking around the nukes he has now authorized).
“The concentration of STDs among young people, particularly the rise in Chlamydia among young women, and rise in syphilis among men, is of deep concern,” DiNorcia said. “It is critical that we examine what risk behaviors these groups are engaging in so that we can implement appropriate educational programs. The federal government exclusively funds programs focused abstinence until marriage, and while these programs may be meeting the politician’s ideological litmus test, they are clearly not meeting the needs of our young people.” DiNorcia continued.
AIDS is a tremendous threat to the future of our society. It is destroying the most valuable resource we’ll ever have, our children. Our children must develop healthy attitudes about their sexuality. Education is the only vaccine we have against the AIDS virus… Abstinence-only education really does not address the full range of issues related to sexuality. We try and use various scare tactics, and we do not give our children the information they need to make decisions. . . I think that we have to be very concerned about this very vocal minority that is targeting our children.
The European Union has issued a strongly worded critique of US approaches to HIV prevention, especially in developing countries.
A Human Rights Based Approach at Amnesty International
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
World Health Organization
AIDS News Network at World AIDS Campaign
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
World AIDS Day
International HIV/AIDS Alliance
ActUp (New York)
Investigating the State of Science Under the Bush Administration