The theme for this year’s World AIDS Day is ‘Getting to Zero: Zero New HIV Infections, Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS related Deaths’. This year marks the launch of the ‘Getting to Zero’ Campaign, which will run until 2015 and work towards achieving the AIDS-related Millennium Development Goals.
There have been significant advances in the treatment of HIV/AIDS since the first cases of HIV infection surfaced 30 years ago. At that time, AIDS was considered a ‘silent killer’, but now, more and more people living with HIV are leading a healthy and normal life. Yes, ‘It’s Different Now’! With the increasing awareness about the spread and progression of the virus in the medical and the public sectors, the general attitude towards being HIV positive has changed. It is not considered a death sentence any more, and the ‘It’s Different Now’ campaign is taking it further by bringing the discrimination against HIV positive people to ‘Zero’.
This is not to say that we have conquered the disease but we are definitely on our way and it is important that we all play our part in reaching the ultimate goal of ‘Getting to Zero’. The first step in the eradication of HIV is to stop the spread. At an individual level, we can help by getting tested for the virus as most HIV transmission occurs from people who are unaware of their HIV status. Hence, the earlier one becomes aware of their HIV status the better it is for them and their community. HIV affects all of us in some form or the other and it is important to get more people tested and connected to care and treatment as fast as we can.
To learn more about the ‘It’s different Now’ campaign and find HIV testing centres, go to http://itsdifferentnow.org/
Shivinder Dhillon, WHRI Coop Student
Emily Wagner, Infectious Diseases Research Manager