Worlds AIDS Day is being commemorated globally today with HIV/AIDS testing initiatives, awareness drives, and fundraising efforts. Since its discovery in the early 1980s, AIDS has killed over 25 million people and today 3.3 million are living with HIV worldwide. A United Nations report (see PDF) released earlier this year indicated that the percentage of AIDS deaths worldwide has decreased 10% though the prevalence of new infections is steady at 2.7 million per year.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation coordinated a ‘One Million Tests’ campaign that coordinates with World AIDS Day and seeks to test over one million people worldwide for HIV/AIDS with the assistance of more than 1,000 partner organizations. A study released last week by the World Health Organization confirms the benefits of universal testing and early treatment. This study found that annual voluntary universal HIV/AIDS testing and treatment with antiretroviral drugs immediately upon diagnosis could reduce HIV cases by up to 95 percent worldwide in 10 years, according to the Washington Post.
Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization, said in a statement on this year’s World’s AIDS Day that “empowerment is critical for an effective response, and most especially so for prevention. We must do much more to empower adolescent girls and women, both to protect themselves and to act as agents of change .In many countries, legal as well as social and cultural barriers prevent groups at risk from receiving the interventions and knowledge needed to reduce harmful behaviors.”