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World AIDS Day 20th anniversary marks progress but no solution

3 November 2008 - In the midst of a global financial crisis, leaders must deliver on their AIDS promises or hard fought gains will be lost, declares the World AIDS Campaign in highlighting the theme of leadership for World AIDS Day. This 1st of December 2008 is the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day, which is marked by significant progress in prevention and treatment over the past two decades, but highlights how much more still needs to be done by leaders at all levels to reach universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010.

Some key examples demonstrate the need for increased leadership and action:

  • The recent global economic turmoil has raised fears that financial commitments to the AIDS response will be decreased whilst factors such as poverty that make people vulnerable to the disease will increase. Leadership, such as that recently from the OECD which called for an "Aid pledge", is required so that the progress that has been made in treatment and prevention is not lost.

  • As of 2007, nearly all countries have national policies on HIV. However, despite these policies, most have not been fully implemented and many lack funding allocations. G8 countries themselves need to fulfil their leadership role by implementing and being accountable for the promises made in their summits since 2005.

  • Whilst treatment for HIV and AIDS has improved and become more widespread since 1988, many still do not have access to it - in 2007 69% of people in low- to middle-income countries needing treatment did not receive it. Without treatment, many will die within the next two years.

  • Despite HIV awareness now reaching nearly all areas of the globe, infection rates are still happening 2.7 times faster than the increase in number of people receiving treatment.

  • Whilst the number of countries protecting people living with HIV continue to increase, one third of countries still lack legal protections. Stigma and discrimination continues to be a major threat to universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support.

  • Legal barriers to HIV services still exist for groups including women, adolescents, sex workers, people who use drugs, and men having sex with men.
  • As young people, 15-24 years of age, account for 45% of all new HIV infections in adults in 2007, World AIDS Campaign and local partners in India are organising high-profile events in New Delhi and Pune to celebrate and emphasise youth leadership in the response to HIV and AIDS. Events in the run up to World AIDS Day include "Condom Cricket", battle of the bands at "HIV-positive restaurants", and disruptive street theatre and will culminate in major rock concerts and exhibitions around World AIDS Day itself.

    World AIDS Day was first declared by the World Health Organisation and the United Nations General Assembly in 1988. Since then, it has progressively become one of the most successful "international days" for raising awareness on a global issue.

    The World AIDS Campaign, with support of its Global Steering Commitment networks, selects the international theme for World AIDS Day each year.


    The World AIDS Campaign supports, strengthens and connects campaigns that hold leaders accountable for their promises on HIV and AIDS. "Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise" is the slogan for the World AIDS Campaign from 2005-2010.

    For more information or for interviews with experts, national campaigners and people directly affected by HIV and AIDS, contact the World AIDS Campaign at,
    +31 20 616 9045 (Netherlands)
    +44 1524 727 651 (UK).


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