Wednesday, November 19, 2008

World AIDS Day 2008 Extends the Theme of ‘Leadership’ to its Worldwide Campaign

TUCSON (Observer Update) - The Tucson World AIDS Day Committee supports the World AIDS Day Campaign efforts and public announcement to encourage leaders at all levels to stop AIDS.

In order to halt the spread of HIV and AIDS, our community must show leadership and empowerment in helping Southern Arizona to realize a community with no new HIV infections. This year marks the 20th anniversary of this day of remembrance through World AIDS Day. Since 1988 many of the challenges surrounding HIV and AIDS have changed. Although many of these changes have been positive (and are highlighted below), the fight is not over. Instead, this anniversary is a reminder of the work that is still left to be done.

Accomplishments over the last 20 years worldwide:

Leaders in most countries from around the world now acknowledge the threat of AIDS, and many have committed to do something about it. As of 2007, nearly all countries have national policies on HIV. However, despite these policies, most have not been fully implemented and many lack funding allocations. While treatment for HIV and AIDS has improved and become more widespread, many still do not have access to it – in 2007 only 31% of those in low- to middle-income countries who need treatment received it. Despite HIV awareness now reaching nearly all areas of the globe, infection rates are still happening 2.7 times faster than the increase in number of people receiving treatment. While the number of countries protecting people living with HIV continues to increase, 1/3 of countries still lack legal protections and stigma and discrimination continue to be a major threat to universal access and more broadly, real action is still lacking on HIVAIDS and human rights. Legal barriers to HIV services still exist for groups such as women, adolescents, sex workers, people who use drugs, and men having sex with men, and programmatic responses promoting HIV-related human rights have yet to be prioritized.

World AIDS Day was established in 1988 by The World Health Organization designating December 1st of each year as a day to demonstrate the importance of AIDS and show solidarity for the cause. This underlining principle of solidarity and awareness remains the same today. To achieve this goal, leadership and action are needed now. Governments must deliver on the promises they have made. Communities must encourage leadership of its members. Individuals must feel empowered to access treatment, to know their rights and take action against stigma and discrimination, and to know and use methods of prevention against receiving and transmitting HIV. Now, more than ever is the time to lead – empower – deliver.

To find out more on how Tucson will be observing World AIDS Day on Monday, December 1, please visit

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