Words are not enough
A series of articles by guest writers for World AIDS Day 2012
Part of AVERT's World AIDS Day 2012 campaign, ‘Reflections on the Epidemic’ are a series of articles by guest writers.
Our guest writers range from global leaders, writers, experts, activists, physicians and people personally affected by HIV and AIDS; and they represent various countries, experiences and backgrounds from all over the world.
We are grateful to all our guest writers for their effort and the diverse and insightful viewpoints that they contributed to the world’s response to HIV and AIDS.
You can also see all articles and writers in this series at the end of every article.
The release of the UNAIDS report “Results” for this World AIDS Day marks an important turning point in the fight against AIDS.[fn]UNAIDS (2012) ' World AIDS Day Report: Results'[/fn]
The report showed that the number of new HIV infections has steadily decreased from 3·2 million in 2001 to 2·5 million in 2011. Access to treatment has also radically improved. In 2001, only 200,000 people living with HIV received treatment; today, up to 8 million people are receiving treatment.
So far, so good. Really good. The real and exciting possibility now exists that we could witness the dawn of an AIDS-free generation. But while the progress that has been made is substantial, we should not, and we cannot afford to believe, that this is nearly enough.
For me, the world of AIDS has been defined in 2012 by “complacency”. Given that we know that funding the prevention and treatment of HIV is imperative to the health of future generations, why is there such sluggishness in the global response? With decreasing funding (as per the Funders Concerned About AIDS/European Funders Group report released earlier this month), and less of a laser-focus on the issue, we are seriously jeopardising all that we’ve worked so hard to achieve. Are 2.5 million new infections each year acceptable? Is it acceptable that 17 million people living with HIV still don’t know their status? Absolutely not.
At the MTV Staying Alive Foundation we believe that educating people on something entirely preventable is the key to stop HIV before it even starts. For the past three decades the world has fought to prevent the spread of HIV in at-risk populations and improve the lives of people living with HIV. From antiretroviral therapy to at-home HIV tests, scientific advances have improved the lives of millions of people living with HIV. Political and social achievements have also helped to break down some of the barriers to prevention and treatment. 80 percent of countries currently have general non-discrimination laws and over 60 percent of countries have laws prohibiting discrimination against people with HIV.
Our achievements to date have been substantial, and the world has shown that when it puts its forces together, results can be remarkable; but complacency at this stage is not just dangerous, it’s lethal. We stand at a major crossroads in our fight against HIV, and now—more than ever—we need to renew support to ensure that the genuine prospect of an AIDS-free generation can be attained. Mere words are not enough.
Georgia Arnold is the Executive Director of the MTV Staying Alive Foundation and Senior Vice President of Social Responsibility for Viacom International Media Networks.
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Images: 'We Can End AIDS March 2012', copyright: AVERT. 'Georgia Arnold', courtesy of author.
Meeting the challenge of stigma in Iran
Words are not enough: Where is the genuine support for an AIDS-free generation?
Going beyond the silver bullet approach
A new generation of awareness
Mothers at the forefront of change
A few simple actions against AIDS
The reality of beginning the end of AIDS
In the balance — HIV and the Law
Striving for an AIDS free generation of adolescents
A broken unity: An American reflection on the epidemic
Universal access for people who use drugs: Not just a pipe dream
In pursuit of a cure
The future of antiretroviral treatment
Ending paediatric AIDS
A future of possibilities
Riding the waves of HIV
The Paediatric HIV response in the context of AIDS optimism
HIV/AIDS Care begins at home
HIV/AIDS in Uganda: Myth to reality
Why beauty is a great weapon in the fight against HIV/AIDS
HIV Walk, unravels the epidemic
The importance of Parliamentary voices in the AIDS response
Women breaking the stereotype
Resources for a rights based approach to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic
AIDS - It’s not over
Backing the community response
Gogo-getters become elders
Getting to zero
The search for common humanity at the heart of the AIDS response
AIDS is still hot in India
Why involve women with HIV?
All opinions expressed in 'Reflections on the Epidemic' do not necessarily represent those of AVERT.