World AIDS Day was established on December 1st, 1988. The Day is about raising money, increasing awareness, fighting prejudice and improving education. The World AIDS Day theme for 2010 is “Universal Access and Human Rights”. The theme is important for reminding people that HIV has not gone away and there are many things still to be done.
According to UNAIDS estimates, there are now 33.3 million people living with HIV that include 2.5 million children. During 2009, some 2.6 million people became newly infected with the virus and an estimated 1.8 million people died from AIDS.
The vast majority of people with HIV and AIDS live in lower- and middle-income countries. HIV today is a threat to men, women and children everywhere.
According to statistics released by the Greek National Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO), AIDS incidents have been on the rise in Greece in recent years, with 519 new cases reported this year up until October 31, bringing the overall number of HIV positive cases to 10,452 of which 80.9 percent (8,453) were men and 18.7 percent (1,951) were women, while no gender was reported in a small percentage of the cases.
The number of children infected with AIDS remains small, however, with just 37 cases overall, of which 64.9 percent were infected by the mother.
AIDS-related deaths this year, up to October 31, totaled 34.
Global leaders have pledged to work towards universal access to HIV and treatment, prevention and care. The leaders recognize these as fundamental human rights. Valuable progress has been made in increasing access to HIV and AIDS services. Greater commitment is needed around the world if universal access can be successful. Millions of people continue to be infected with HIV each year. In low- and middle-income countries, less than half of those in need of antiretroviral therapy are receiving it. Many do not have access to adequate care services.
The protection of human rights is fundamental to combating the global HIV and AIDS epidemic. Violations against human rights fuel the spread of HIV. This places marginalised groups such as intravenous drug users and sex workers at a higher risk of HIV infection. By promoting individual human rights, new infections can be prevented and people who have HIV can live free from discrimination.
World AIDS Day provides an opportunity for all of us. Individuals, communities and political leaders are called to take action and ensure that human rights are protected and global targets for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care are met.