Getting to Zero: World AIDS Day 2012

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December 1, 2012 is World AIDS Day – a day when women, men and children of all walks around the world stand together to declare their ongoing commitment to ending the epidemic that is HIV/AIDS. The theme of World AIDS Day remains the ambitious hard-line message: “Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths.”

A determined mass commitment to this message has begun to pay off. Across the globe regular antiretroviral therapies (ART), the use of medications to combat HIV, are proving more effective than ever at extending lives and preventing new infections. According to the new UNAIDS 2012 World AIDS Day report, sub-Saharan Africa has reduced AIDS-related deaths by one-third in the last six years and increased the number of people on antiretroviral treatment by 59 percent in the last two years alone. Though due in part to increased availability to and quality of medication, it has been the dissemination of information and the breakdown of social stigmas that have made some of the biggest differences in the battle against HIV/AIDS.

The UNAIDS report celebrates the “unprecedented acceleration in the AIDS response” in recent years and shows a more than 50-percent reduction in the rate of new HIV infections across 25 low- and middle-income countries – more than half in Africa, the region most affected by HIV. At the report’s release, Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, credited smart, government-partnered development: “We are scaling up faster and smarter than ever before. It is the proof that with political will and follow through we can reach our shared goals by 2015.”

With nearly 70 percent of all people living with HIV residing in sub-Saharan Africa, our partners in Africa are some of the most at-risk communities in the world and as such, they are taking an empowered personal interest in the continuation of these positive trends. In THP Program Countries, our partners are extremely vocal in their public support of resources for HIV-positive community members. Unwilling to accept old stigmas, they have joined together to raise awareness about how to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS not only in their own communities, but among political and government leaders as well.

What We Do

The Hunger Project (THP) works to empower local volunteer leaders with information, training and materials to go out and educate their communities about HIV/AIDS. If empowered with accurate information, and freed from the social taboos, attitudes and behaviors that fuel this pandemic, people have proven that they can protect themselves and their families. In partnership with governments and other civil society organizations, we provide access to health care services, immunizations, antiretroviral treatments and more.

  • Microfinance Program for People Living with HIV/AIDS. In Malawi, a special Microfinance Program aims specifically at empowering often ostracized HIV-positive partners. While many NGOs do not provide loans to HIV-positive people out of fear that they will die before loans are repaid, THP acts differently. THP believes that all people have the right to access resources that can help them live better and more independent lives. With access to loans, people living with HIV/AIDS can, and do, improve their lives.
  • HIV/AIDS and Gender Inequality Workshops. In response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa, in 2003 THP launched HIV/AIDS and Gender Inequality Workshops to empower grassroots people to transform the conditions that have perpetuated the spread of these diseases. To date, more than 1.1 million people have attended these workshops in eight countries in Africa.
  • Access to HIV/AIDS testing and treatments. Medical professionals conducting free HIV/AIDS testing in Burkina Faso, June 2012In addition to generating awareness about the root causes of HIV/AIDS infections, mobile voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) services are offered in partner villages -- as pictured here at an HIV/AIDS testing event conducted for free by local medical professionals in Burkina Faso. Some of our epicenters in Malawi also partner with government to provide communities with access to antiretroviral treatments.
  • Female condom distribution. Women in Malawi are empowered to take control of their sexual and reproductive health with the distribution of female condoms at epicenter health centers.

Quick Facts

  • 35 million people are living with HIV/AIDS.
  • 65% of young people living with HIV/AIDS are women.
  • 90% of all children and 60% of all women living with HIV are in sub-Saharan Africa.

Source: UNAIDS Report on the Global Epidemic, 2010

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