World AIDS Day Turns 20 Years

Today, 1 December the world commemorates the 20th anniversary of the World AIDS Day. Many activities are taking place in Viet Nam and around the world to remember those who have died of AIDS and their families, and to re-commit to preventing HIV, and to fighting stigma and discrimination.

In the last 20 years AIDS has become one of the defining issues of our time. “AIDS is a disease unlike any other. It is a social issue, a human rights issue, an economic issue. It targets young adults just as they should be contributing to economic development, intellectual growth, and bringing up young children. It is taking a disproportionate toll on women. It has made millions of children orphans. It does to society what HIV does to the human body — reduces resilience and weakens capacity, hampers development and threatens stability,” said United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in his statement for World AIDS Day.

This year the theme for the day is leadership. Strong and committed leadership has proven to be pivotal for an effective response to the epidemic. There have been tangible results also in Viet Nam: More and more people know about HIV and medicines are more accessible. During the year 2007 the access to ARV-treatment in Viet Nam has more than doubled: now 14,111 individuals are on this life-saving therapy. The Party and the Government have developed and passed Directive No. 54, the Law on HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control, the Law on Domestic Violence and the National Strategy on HIV and AIDS. These are landmark documents that stand as testimony to the high level of leaders’ commitment to fight HIV.

However, more than 100 Vietnamese are infected with HIV every day and the estimated number of people living with HIV in Viet Nam more than doubled between 2000 and 2006 from approximately 122,000 to 280,000. 80 percent of the HIV-infections are among 20-39 year-olds, the section of population that is very essential to the economic development of the nation.

Worldwide AIDS still remains a leading cause of death with more than 5,700 people dying every day.

“Now is the time for stronger and renewed leadership in all fronts and all levels of society. We must rapidly scale up implementation of HIV prevention and need to do all in our power to tackle stigma and discrimination. We all need to stand up and take the lead to get ahead of the epidemic,” urged UNAIDS Viet Nam Country Director Eamonn Murphy.

World AIDS Day was first declared by United Nations General Assembly in 1988. Since then it has become one of the most successful days to raise awareness on a global issue.

For more information, please contact UNAIDS Communications Officer Riikka Lamminmaki: +84 4 734 2824 ext. 107,

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