World AIDS Day 2008: LEAD-EMPOWER-DELIVER
The 1st of December, World AIDS Day, is the
day when individuals and organizations from around the world
come together to bring attention to the global AIDS epidemic.
Year 2008 marks the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day. Whilst
we have come a long ways since 1988, there is still much more
to be done.
Since 1988, efforts made to respond to the
epidemic have produced positive results. However, the latest
UNAIDS report on the global AIDS epidemic indicates that the
epidemic is not yet over in any part of the world.
Together with its partners, the World AIDS
Campaign set this year’s theme for World AIDS Day as
"Lead - Empower - Deliver", building
on last year’s theme of "Take the Lead".
Designating leadership as the World AIDS Day theme for 2007
- 2008 provides an opportunity to highlight both the
political leadership needed to fulfill commitments that have
been made in the response to AIDS; particularly the promise
of universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and
support by 2010 and celebrating the leadership that has been
witnessed at all levels of society.
The concept of a World AIDS Day originated
at the 1988 World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programmes
for AIDS Prevention. Since then, every year UN agencies, governments
and all sectors of civil society worldwide, join together
to campaign around specific themes related to AIDS.
Leadership is the theme
for World AIDS Day 2007 and 2008, promoted with the campaigning
slogan, "Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise."
Leadership encourages leaders
at all levels to stop AIDS. Building on the 2006 theme of
Leadership highlights the
discrepancy between the commitments that have been made to
halt the spread of AIDS, and actions taken to follow them
through. Leadership empowers everyone - individuals,
organizations, governments - to lead in the response
In 2007, people around the world were encouraged
to take the lead to stop AIDS. Campaigns took the shape of
marches, leadership discussions, public awareness events and
pledges from leaders. These events all helped to put leadership
in the spotlight.
People have offered their leadership. Now
it is time to deliver. Promises must be kept, and people must
feel empowered to act.
Why is 2008 important for Kerala?
On the 20th anniversary year of World AIDS
Day, Kerala has a lot to be proud of. The State has been successful
to a good extent in taking its HIV / AIDS control campaign
to the grassroots level. Some of the achievement in its ongoing
campaign against the spread of HIV / AIDS have grabbed national
attention. In Kerala, HIV / AIDS affected members in the society
are now treated as equals with the least of discrimination.
Those affected are now part of the mainstream population and
are increasingly coming forward to seek medical services available
at designated centres throughout Kerala.
2008 marks the 20th anniversary of World
AIDS Day. Since 1988, the face and response to AIDS has greatly
changed. While many of these changes are positive, this anniversary
offers us an opportunity to highlight how much more still
needs to be done.
Leaders in most countries from around the
world now acknowledge the threat of AIDS, and many have committed
to do something about it. As of 2007, nearly all countries
have national policies on HIV. However, despite these policies,
most have not been fully implemented and many lack funding
While treatment for HIV and AIDS has improved
and become more widespread since 1988, many still do not have
access to it - in 2007 only 31% of those in low- to
middle-income countries who need treatment received it.
Despite HIV awareness now reaching nearly
all areas of the globe, infection rates are still happening
2.7 times faster than the increase in number of people receiving
While the number of countries protecting
people living with HIV continues to increase, one third of
countries still lack legal protections and stigma and discrimination
continues to be a major threat to universal access.
More broadly, real action on HIV and AIDS
and human rights remains lacking. Legal barriers to HIV services
still exist for groups such as women, adolescents, sex workers,
people who use drugs, and men having sex with men, and programmatic
responses promoting HIV-related human rights have yet to be
World AIDS Day began in 1988 when health
ministers from around the world met and agreed on the concept
of the day as an opportunity for all of us to come together
to demonstrate the importance of AIDS and show solidarity
for the cause. In 2008, this underlining principle of solidarity
and awareness remains the same.
We have only two years to
go for "the goal of universal access to comprehensive
prevention programmes, treatment, care and support by 2010."
To achieve this goal, leadership and action
is needed now. Governments must deliver on the promises they
have made. Communities must encourage leadership of its members.
Individuals must feel empowered to access treatment, to know
their rights and take action against stigma and discrimination,
and to know and use methods of prevention against receiving
and transmitting HIV.
Click here to download the invitation letter