Today is World Aids Day — First celebrated 25 years ago on December 1st 1988 to honour the lives of those lost to HIV and educate people on HIV facts, treatments and prevention.
– Since 1981, more than 40 million people have died from HIV/AIDS, with the majority – 25 million – from Sub-Saharan Africa
– Around the world, an estimated 34 million people are currently living with HIV, including 70,000 Canadians — a number that has increased 11% between 2007 and 2011
– HIV is preventable, and thanks to HIV activists around the world who fought for recognition and medical treatment, it’s no longer a death sentence, but still people who are HIV + often face unnecessary (not to mention unjust!) stigma and discrimination
One of the biggest challenges in terms of stigma is that people are wildly misinformed about how HIV is transmitted and what medical options are available for those who are HIV positive – even, and sometimes especially, in the ‘developed’ world. How much do you know about HIV transmission and the AIDS virus? Get informed on HIV and help end HIV discrimination by taking this short quiz: http://www.impactprogram.org/multimedia/hiv-knowledge-quiz/?gclid=CJadr7H-j7sCFURc3god5WgAWg
In addition to working on gender in Rwanda, I’m also developing HIV training materials for UGAMA cooperative members and have worked previously with the Coalition of Women Living With HIV/AIDS in Malawi. Rwanda and Malawi are both situated in Sub-Saharan Africa, the world’s poorest geographic region and home to a staggering 72% of worldwide HIV/AIDS-related deaths. The HIV statistics in this part of the world are truly hard to wrap one’s head around. Owing to poverty and poor luck, hundreds of thousands lack access to life-saving antiretroviral drugs (ARTs) that could be provided for just a few dollars a day.
There is still a desperate need for work and awareness around the world in terms of HIV prevention and treatment, but thanks to the incredible work of activists and health care providers, thousands are able to lead healthy and happy lives.
Against incredible odds, Rwanda is nothing short of awe-inspiring in terms of HIV prevention, treatment, and awareness. The current government is working hard to support educators and trainers, and to provide the country’s 200,000-some HIV + citizens with much needed ARTs. My work in educating rural farmers is, I am happy to report, barely a drop in the bucket in terms of the overall national strategy.
In Rwanda, success is not measured by the number of people remaining alive, but is achieved when people living with HIV can earn a living, support their family, raise their children, and care for their community no differently than their peers. – Neil Gupta
And take a minute to appreciate the activists whose work has saved the lives of millions and is bringing an end to HIV/AIDS stigma: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/dec/01/world-aids-day-how-aids-activists-changed-medical-research