World AIDS Day 2017: The Most Critical Yet.
Our annual observance of World AIDS Day chronicles one of the worst global health crises in history. And despite numerous advances in treatment and prevention, the fight against HIV/AIDS remains as urgent today as it was 35 years ago.
As a result of our shifting political and social landscape, the 30th World AIDS Day is perhaps the most critical yet for five important reasons:
HIV-related stigma and discrimination continue to create barriers to accessing HIV prevention, testing and treatment services for people living with, or at risk of, HIV. According to UNAIDS, people living with HIV who experience high levels of stigma are twice as likely to delay enrollment into HIV care than people who don’t experience it.
“In the Latino community, stigma is fueled by ignorance, religion, culture.”
– Maria Mejia, human rights activist and HIV/AIDS advocate
Watch Maria’s story on amfAR’s Epic Voices
With the success of antiretroviral drug treatment, many no longer believe HIV is a serious condition. This common myth makes many people, including those who engage in high-risk behavior, much less afraid of contracting HIV and therefore less likely to get tested.
“I was young, having fun, meeting people, and really thinking I was invincible. Nothing can happen to me.”
– Viktor Luna, fashion designer
Watch Viktor’s story on amfAR’s EPIC VOICES
#3—ADVANCING HIV RESEARCH:
There has never been a more optimistic time in the world of HIV/AIDS research. Scientific breakthroughs, coupled with new and emerging technologies, have brought researchers to the brink of an HIV cure. amfAR is leading the charge and accelerating its efforts through a $100 million Countdown to a Cure initiative, designed to develop the scientific basis for a cure by 2020.
“The progress we have had to date has been extraordinary, but I will never be content with it until we have a cure.”
– Judd Hultquist, HIV researcher
Watch Judd’s story on amfAR’s Epic Voices
#4—OUR POLITICAL CLIMATE:
With the country’s healthcare landscape rapidly changing, we must ensure that all people living with HIV/AIDS continue to have access to quality care and lifesaving medications. This is particularly important since treatment makes people much less infectious and is therefore essential to stopping the spread of HIV.
“I didn’t want my (HIV) diagnosis on record because I didn’t have health insurance linked to my employment, and I was worried about pre-existing conditions exclusions so I actually didn’t get into care for about two years.”
– Naina Khanna, human rights activist and HIV/AIDS advocate
Watch Naina’s story on amfAR’s Epic Voices
The opioid crisis in the U.S. has become a major public health problem, and the epidemic is making the fight against HIV more difficult. Because injecting drug use increases the risk of HIV and hepatitis C, areas that are hardest hit by the opioid epidemic are also seeing more and more cases of these blood-borne infections. What’s more, funding shortfalls are translating into treatment gaps in many parts of the country. Learn more about how the opioid crisis and HIV are connected.
“It just took one person to have HIV for it to spread very quickly.”
– Brittany Combs, Public Health Nurse for Scott County Health Department
Watch Brittany’s story on amfAR’s Epic Voices
Make It Matter
A world without AIDS is within reach, but we’re still far from the finish line. On this World AIDS Day, let’s honor those we’ve lost, spark conversation about HIV/AIDS, and support efforts to develop a cure for the 37 million people living with the virus today.
To find a cure for HIV as quickly as possible, and ultimately defeat AIDS, amfAR is accelerating cure-focused research through its Countdown to a Cure for AIDS initiative. We’ve set an ambitious goal for ourselves: to develop the scientific basis for a cure by 2020. You can help with this effort by making a special gift today. Thank you.
amfAR is registered as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions.