LAS VEGAS — UNAIDS calls for the international community to join forces in reducing the number of AIDS/HIV cases, and provides useful information about the virus and what can be done to protect the health of infected and non-infected persons.
2015 is an important year for global development as outlined by the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals set forth in 2000. This year will determine whether progress has been made in improving the conditions of people around the world, as it relates to health, poverty, education, environment and other key indicators.
Getting to Zero is perhaps the catch all phrase of the MDGs since the overall objective is to eliminate instances of inequality and basic suffering throughout the world. However, it has been specifically applied in the campaign against HIV/AIDS. UNAIDS coined the term in 2010, as a part of the new Getting to Zero strategy, aimed at eliminating HIV/AIDS transmission, under the motto of “Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths.”
HIV/AIDS is one of the biggest global health issues. According to WHO, it affects some 35 million people worldwide and at least 1.5 million have died from AIDS related illnesses since 2013. In developing and poor countries, only 34 to 38 percent of those needing antiretroviral treatment receive it. Additionally, the nature of transmission, often through sexual contact, causes many to avoid the issue; it is simply taboo to discuss such things publicly in many regions, including the U.S. Unfortunately, this shunning has caused a lack of response against the virus, discrimination against infected persons and possibly an increase of its transmission.
UNAIDS identified the detrimental effects of these statistics on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2010 and decided to create the Getting to Zero 2011- 2015 strategy, a joint venture with the U.N. This strategy outlines ten goals for 2015:
- Sexual transmission of HIV reduced by half, including among young people, men who have sex with men and transmission in the context of sex work.
- Vertical transmission of HIV eliminated, and AIDS-related maternal mortality reduced by half.
- All new HIV infections prevented among people who use drugs.
- Universal access to antiretroviral therapy for people living with HIV who are eligible for treatment.
- TB deaths among people living with HIV reduced by half.
- People living with HIV and households affected by HIV are addressed in all national and social protection strategies and have access to essential care and support.
- Countries with punitive laws and practices around HIV transmission, sex work, drug use or homosexuality that block effective responses reduced by half.
- HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay and residence eliminated in half of the countries that have such restrictions.
- HIV-specific needs of women and girls are addressed in at least half of all national HIV responses.
- Zero tolerance for gender-based violence.
The Getting to Zero Strategy places an importance on vulnerable populations, including women, children and the impoverished. The strategy has been met with a welcoming response from many governments and they are continuously working to create a dialogue in their communities regarding HIV/AIDS as well as implementing the recommendations set forth by the strategy.
It is of no doubt that an individual’s access to health care plays an important role in his or her ability to provide for him or herself and be a contribution to national progress. When people are sick, they suffer psychically and economically. Eradicating the overwhelming effects of HIV/AIDS just may be one of the most important advances in global development. Though the results have not yet been reported, a continuous effort must be made to make those results hopeful ones.
– Candice Hughes