Feature story

Help put HIV prevention on the global agenda this World AIDS Day

29 November 2010

By Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director

A few days ago, I launched the UNAIDS Report on the global AIDS epidemic 2010 which contains some very encouraging findings that the world has been long waiting to hear.

Globally, new HIV infections have fallen by 20% over the past 10 years. At least 56 countries have stabilized or significantly slowed down the rate of new HIV infections, including almost all countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa and India, who together contributed nearly half a million new HIV infections in 2009, have dramatically decreased new HIV infections over the past decade. India by more than half and South Africa by more than one third!

This is also the first time we can show that reductions in the number of new HIV infections are clearly linked to an increase in knowledge about HIV, changes in social norms and the adopting of safer behaviors. It has given us evidence that HIV prevention programmes are producing significant results.

However we must not be lulled into complacency or denial. No one is immune from HIV. Not you, not me—irrespective of whether you are rich or poor. But we can protect ourselves and our loved ones. And we can show compassion for all people living with HIV.

That is why I ask all of you, this World AIDS Day, to help put HIV prevention on the global agenda. Tell your friends, your family, your neighbour, your local politician—more than 7000 new HIV infections every day is unacceptable

Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director

We still face significant challenges ahead. Yes, the total number of new HIV infections is decreasing, but there were 2.6 million people newly infected with HIV in 2009 and there are two new HIV infections for every one person starting HIV treatment. 370 00 babies were infected with HIV. Each one of them could have been prevented. HIV among babies has been virtually eliminated in high-income countries, but not so in other countries. The value of human life must be same—across the world.

So while we clearly see that investments in the AIDS response are paying off, the gains we have made are fragile. This is the time to scale up, not scale down the response to HIV. We have seen successes, but we cannot say we have succeeded until there are zero new HIV infections. Access to health should not be decided by who you are and where you live—but by equity and social justice.

To reach this goal, nothing less than a prevention revolution is needed. That is why I ask all of you, this World AIDS Day, to help put HIV prevention on the global agenda. Tell your friends, your family, your neighbour, your local politician—more than 7000 new HIV infections every day is unacceptable!

We can prevent HIV, but to get to zero new infections we need your help. Join the prevention revolution. Be the prevention revolution.

Find out more about the Prevention Revolution here.

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