Monday, November 30, 2009

Today is World AIDS Day

Today, December 1, is World AIDS Day. The theme for 2009 is Universal Access and Human Rights.

Here are some basic facts about the HIV/AIDS epidemic from the recently published UNAIDS Towards Universal Access report:

There are 33 million people living with HIV globally.

Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for two-thirds (22 million people) of the global disease burden.

There 15.5 women in the world living with HIV. 60% of the cases of HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa are women, so there are 13.2 million African women who are HIV-positive.

90% of the pregnant women needing antiretroviral treatment for themselves and/or prophylaxis for their babies come from 20 countries--19 of which are in Africa (the 20th is India). Those African countries are Nigeria, South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Burundi, Angola, Chad, Lesotho, Ghana, and Botswana.

Of those countries listed above, mothers2mothers works in South Africa, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho, and is currently initiating services in Uganda, Mozambique, and Tanzania. m2m is also in Swaziland and Rwanda and is in the planning stages in Namibia.

91% of HIV-positive pregnant women in low and middle income countries come from Sub-Saharan Africa, with 70% of those African women in Eastern and Southern Africa and the remaining 30% in Central and West Africa.

1.4 million HIV-positive pregnant women gave birth in 2008 in low and middle income countries.

Of the 2 million children living with HIV globally, over 90% were infected through mother-to-child transmission in utereo or during labor or breastfeeding. mothers2mothers (shameless plug) focuses on the prevention of mother-t0-child transmission.

mothers2mothers will reach 300,000 clients this year and is expanding into additional countries next year. We employ 1,500 women who are new mothers living with HIV to counsel pregnant women and new mothers who are HIV-positive and to help them navigate the clinical maze in which they often find themselves, not to mention supporting them to live positively and healthily.

Please, take a moment today to reflect on the HIV/AIDS epidemic. You can help in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and financial support is only one of many options. You could take a year off and volunteer, or you could volunteer on Saturdays. Or you can lobby your representative(s) to make HIV/AIDS prevention, medical treatment and support, and equal rights for those living with HIV/AIDS a priority at local, state, national, and global levels. And, this is very important: know your status. Get tested regularly, even if you think you could never contract HIV.

Imagine an HIV-free generation. We can do this. We can see this in our lifetime.

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