About World AIDS Day 2011 – Getting to ZERO
Creating the Turning Point in the HIV Pandemic
What makes it possible in 2011 to create THE turning point in the HIV Pandemic? Recent studies have shown overwhelmingly that treatment, which can lower the amount of virus in an infected person to undetectable levels, can reduce transmission by 96%. Globally, if we are able to reach the goals of universal access to treatment, we will be able to turn the tide on the HIV epidemic by drastically reducing new infections and AIDS related deaths.
This, together with all that we already know about preventing HIV transmission, puts the real possibility of stopping HIV in our sights. But in the midst of economic crisis and political gridlock, this will not be an easy task. It is, however, what makes this moment, an all hands on deck moment. It is only by getting HIV back on the agenda in a significant way that we will achieve the zero goals.
The 2011 World AIDS Day theme is “Getting to Zero” focusing on the goals of the political declaration coming out of the United Nations High Level Meeting on HIV (June 2011) in which member states committed to and called the world to join efforts to get to zero – zero new infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero stigma and discrimination.
The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, of which the United Church of Christ is a member, encourages faith communities to focus on “Zero Discrimination.”
Resources from UCC national offices also emphasize that together we can do more to get to zero. In fact, our hope for getting to zero depends on each one of us doing our part to
- know HIV,
- know the epidemic in our own communities,
- know your HIV status, and
- work collaboratively with others in our community and around the world to
- prevent the spread of HIV, and
- provide universal access to the treatment, care and support needed by people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.
Key goals in global efforts include
- zero new childhood infections by 2015,
- 6 million on treatment by 2013 and
- 15 million on treatment by 2015.
There is also emphasis on the strategic investment needed now to get to zero. If that strategic investment is made by the U.S. and other donor nations then it is estimated that by 2020 we will be able to begin scaling back. The strategic investment not only involves the vital issue of funding, but it also includes strengthening health systems and developing the full capacity necessary to manufacture, deliver and administer treatment, care and support for persons living with and affected by HIV.
These strategic commitments are as important to the epidemic in the U.S., where thousands of people living with HIV are on waiting lists for medications (see ADAP watch), as it is the world over.
World AIDS Day 2011 can also serve as a catalyst for building momentum toward AIDS 2012 – the International AIDS Conference – which will take place in Washington DC July 22-27, and lead to the kinds of efforts that have nearly eradicated other diseases like polio and small pox. Please promote and plan to participate in the Interfaith Pre-Conference to AIDS 2012, “Taking Action for Health, Dignity and Justice” to be held at Howard University in Washington DC, beginning with a networking reception the evening of July 19 and a conference program July 20-21.