World AIDS Day is observed every year on December 1st. This day marks the beginning of an annual campaign designed to encourage public support for and development of programs to prevent the spread of HIV infection and provide education and promote awareness of issues surrounding HIV/AIDS. It was first observed in 1988 after a summit of health ministers from around the world called for a spirit of social tolerance and a greater exchange of information on HIV/AIDS. World AIDS Day serves to strengthen the global effort to face the challenges of the AIDS pandemic.
The theme for World AIDS Day 2009-2010 is “Universal Access and Human Rights”.
Understanding HIV and AIDS from a human rights perspective can be difficult.
Human rights are often misunderstood – and can sometimes be seen as abstract ideals with not much practical relevance for real people. With “Universal Access and Human Rights” being the theme of this year’s World AIDS Day, the key slogans are:
- I am accepted.
- I am safe.
- I am getting treatment.
- I am well.
- I am living my rights.
- Everyone deserves to live their rights.
- Right to Live.
- Right to Health.
- Access for all to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support is a critical part of human rights.
STATISTICS ON HIV and AIDS
WOMEN & HIV/AIDS
- Since the beginning of the epidemic, almost 60 million people have been infected with HIV and 25 million people have died of HIV-related causes.
- In 2008, some 33.4 million [31.1 million-35.8 million] people living with HIV, 2.7 million [2.4 million-3.0 million] new infections and 2 million [1.7 million-2.4 million] AIDS-related deaths.
- It is estimated that 15.7million women are living with HV and AIDS in 2008.
- According to UNAIDS estimates, around 2.3 million people were living with HIV in Europe at the end of 2008.
- In 2008, around 430 000 [240 000-610 000] children were born with HIV, bringing to 2.1million [1.2 million-2.9 million] the total number of children under 15 living with HIV.
At the end of 2008 it was estimated that out of the 31.3 million adults worldwide living with HIV and AIDS, around half are women. It is suggested that 98 percent of these women live in developing countries. The AIDS epidemic has had a unique impact on women, which has been exacerbated by their role within society and their biological vulnerability to HIV infection.
Generally women are at a greater risk of heterosexual transmission of HIV. Biologically women are twice more likely to become infected with HIV through unprotected heterosexual intercourse than men. In many countries women are less likely to be able to negotiate condom use and are more likely to be subjected to non-consensual sex.
Additionally, millions of women have been indirectly affected by the HIV and AIDS epidemic. Women’s childbearing role means that they have to contend with issues such as mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The responsibility of caring for AIDS patients and orphans is also an issue that has a greater effect on women.
There are a number of things that can be done in order to reduce the burden of the epidemic among women. These include promoting and protecting women’s human rights, increasing education and awareness among women and encouraging the development of new preventative technologies such as post-exposure prophylaxis and microbicides.
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