World AIDS Day 2016

Anyone touched by HIV & AIDS knows that World AIDS Day (Dec. 1st) is a complicated day. It is a day to grieve those we have lost, to celebrate how far we have all come, and take stock of the new challenges that are emerging. 

Over the past three decades, community-based organizations have achieved so much in the struggle against AIDS in Africa—restoring hope and health to entire communities, and fostering resilience in the face of an ongoing epidemic. However, this World AIDS Day, there are two pressing issues that threaten the critical advances these grassroots groups have made... 

Drugs are not enough... 

First, a single-minded focus on the delivery of anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) has come at the expense of support for the human dimensions of the AIDS crisis. For those who can access them, ARVs are a medical miracle that has reversed the one-time death sentence of an HIV diagnosis. For too many others, however, drugs remain inaccessible and adherence remains a nearly insurmountable challenge. That is, unless there is a community-based organization nearby to ensure drugs are reliably within reach, help manage stigma and side effects, provide education for caregivers of HIV-positive children, and create essential communities of support. Our grassroots partners are telling us clearly: Drugs are desperately needed, but they are not enough.

...especially for women and girls

Meanwhile, young women and girls remain disproportionately affected by the epidemic, and by international responses which ignore their myriad needs. For years, our partner organizations have recognized that no medical advance, however dramatic, will be truly meaningful unless gender inequality is addressed. And now, a new report from UNAIDS is echoing their concerns—arguing that "we urgently need to do more" for young women between the ages of 15 and 24 years old.  

“Young women and girls don’t get tested as regularly. They’re susceptible to terrible opportunistic infections. They’re not in school in sufficient number so that they can receive education about prevention. They don’t have access to sexual and reproductive health. And above all, they’re subject to sexual violence.”

—Stephen Lewis


This World AIDS Day, in the face of these challenges, one thing remains clear: It is grassroots organizations that will orchestrate the finale to the global AIDS epidemic. Make a donation today and join us in standing with them as they turn the tide of HIV and AIDS. 

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Click here for access to publications featuring more information on the work of our community-based partner organizations, and click here to access the new UNAIDS report.  

Banner image: Young people participate in a community outreach event. Kimara Peers, Tanzania.
Credit: Alexis MacDonald/SLF


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