World AIDS Day 2010

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Today, December 1, is World AIDS Day, and we have reason to celebrate.

The most recent UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic reports that new HIV infections have fallen by over 20 percent in the past 10 years, and almost all the countries in sub-Saharan Africa have stabilized or slowed down their rates of new HIV infections. We can also clearly see that reductions are linked to an increase in knowledge about HIV, changes in social norms and the adoption of safer behaviors.

The international community knows what works and we are making tremendous progress. Yet, there are still two new HIV infections for every one person beginning HIV treatment, and last year, 2.6 million people were newly infected. We must continue to forge ahead.

The Hunger Project is in a unique position to make a difference. Our successful programs have provided us with access to government, partnership with leading organizations, the critically missing rural infrastructure, and, most importantly, the courageous grassroots-level leadership willing and able to confront the gender issues fueling the spread of the disease.

In 2003 we launched our HIV/AIDS and Gender Inequality Campaign. Our African leaders created a workshop designed to empower grassroots people to transform the conditions that have led to the spread of HIV/AIDS. To date, more than 920,000 people have participated in the workshop.

In Malawi, antiretroviral therapy (ART), the use of medications to combat HIV, is traditionally administered only at hospitals. But, in rural areas, hospitals are often many miles away, making it difficult for those living with HIV to leave their families and livelihood to receive treatment. So, THP-Malawi formed a partnership with local government, whereby our epicenters could be used as mobile outreach ART clinics. Villagers not only receive HIV counseling and testing, but are also able to access the necessary medications.

Three of our seven epicenters in Malawi are now established ART outreach centers, where hundreds of women, men and children are receiving life-prolonging AIDS drugs. This project is also promoting home-based care services, impact mitigation, access to microfinance services for HIV-positive people, and capacity building within community-based organizations to manage the impact of HIV and AIDS.

This work in Malawi is one example of the types of activities that THP partners around the world are initiating to continue to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS. Learn more about our eight-point strategy to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.

In the words of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, "let us set our sights on achieving the "three zeros" - zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. On this World AIDS Day, let us pledge to work together to realize this vision for all of the world's people." (Read the Secretary-General's full message on World AIDS Day)

Photo: 2009 World AIDS Day celebration at Namarel Epicenter in Senegal.