- When World AIDS Day was first established in 1988, the world looked very different to how it is today
- Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 70 million people have acquired the infection, and about 35 million people have died
- 1st December 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day
- More awareness creation about HIV and the resulting AIDS epidemics is still needed across the globe
As the globe celebrates the World Aids day, over 37 million people are currently living with the disease, World Health Organisation has said.
Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 70 million people have acquired the infection, and about 35 million people have died. Today, around 37 million worldwide live with HIV, of whom 22 million are on treatment.
Now, we have easily accessible testing, treatment, a range of prevention options, including pre-exposure prophylaxis of PrEP, and services that can reach vulnerable communities.
According to a statement by Dr Rachel Baggaley, coordinator of HIV testing and prevention at WHO, in the late 1980s, however, “the outlook for people with HIV was pretty grim.”
“Antiretrovirals weren’t yet available, so although we could offer treatment for opportunistic infections there was no treatment for their HIV. It was a very sad and difficult time.”
With increasing awareness that AIDS was emerging as a global public health threat, the first International AIDS Conference was held in Atlanta in 1985.
“In those early days, with no treatment on the horizon, extraordinary prevention, care and awareness-raising efforts were mobilized by communities around the world – research programmes were accelerated, condom access was expanded, harm reduction programmes were established and support services reached out to those who were sick,” says Dr Andrew Ball, senior adviser on HIV at WHO.