World AIDS Day 2014: A message from AVERT's CEO

01 December 2014
An HIV ribbon

Our World AIDS Day 2014 blog brings together voices from the field to share perspectives on the HIV epidemic on this day of remembrance and solidarity. This blog series includes messages from AVERT’s CEO, our partner, the Umunthu Foundation, and a case study from our South African partner, Sisonke. The blog also features guest pieces from the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, and the Key Correspondents programme.

Sarah Hand, AVERT's CEO

Young people entering into sexual relationships 30 years into the HIV epidemic still do not have access to the right information and resources to ensure they lead the way as the AIDS free generation.

This needs to change. As we mark World AIDS Day 2014 and reflect back on the successes and achievements, we continue to call for action to ensure that young people remain at the centre of our efforts to end AIDS.

Today, young people (aged 15-24) accounted for 39% of all new HIV infections worldwide and an estimated 5.4 million young people were living with HIV, 15% of the global total. Greater collaboration and effort is required to bring HIV testing to the forefront.

Late diagnosis of HIV is both detrimental to the health and wellbeing of the individual living with HIV themselves and the wider public prevention of HIV. The majority of new infections are the result of a risk with an individual who was not aware of their status.

Therefore, HIV testing needs to be normalised and well integrated into all levels of social and health care provision. We need to take away the barriers and make this a priority. This is an investment in health worth making.

Without the provision of targeted, clear and appropriate information on the prevention of HIV alongside accessible, targeted and professional testing sites, it will be hard to break the chain of new infections and for the gains of the last 30 years to truly be recognised.

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This year, AVERT launched ‘Update Your Status’, a campaign focused on HIV testing targeted at young people. We began with a game, challenging people to recognise the myths and facts of what happens when you go for an HIV test. Many young people around the world have reported not knowing what an HIV test involves, and are therefore fearful of it. We want young people to know that the test is quick, easy and painless.

This World AIDS Day, our ‘First Date Sex Fail’ video shows a couple getting carried away and not using a condom. The message here is: “We all get carried away. Remember HIV. Take the test”.

Join us this year and going forward in the global effort to end the global HIV epidemic. Know the facts, take your own personal action, get tested, don’t blame or stigmatise others who are vulnerable, and together we can bring about change.

Photo credit:
Copyright AVERT

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