The fight against spread of HIV/Aids continues.
The wheel is slowly turning around in the ongoing battle against HIV/AIDS. There is positive news in the latest UN report published in 2012. There are now an estimated 34 million people living with HIV. The number of deaths and new infections are coming down which is a positive sign but as funding becomes under increasing pressure from the economic downturn, the rate of decrease is particularly worrying. The numbers dying as a result of HIV/AIDS dropped by about 100,000 to 1.7 million people worldwide. New infections reduced from 2.6 million to 2.5 million people.
HIV/AIDS – by the numbers
Already 25 million people have died from HIV/AIDS. But many countries, including some of the poorest, are making real progress. HIV infections in these countries have been cut dramatically since 2001, by as much as 73% in Malawi. (UNAIDS report 2012)
Included in the 33 million people living with HIV are some millions who are alive because of increased access to ART (anti-retroviral therapy). Access to the treatment has grown tremendously in the past 24 months, with a global increase of 63%. Women living with HIV who receive ART during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding lower the risk of HIV transmission to their babies to less than 5%. (UNAIDS report 2012)
We have the knowledge and the means to defeat this global enemy – but have we the will to do so?
Although the availability of treatment is increasing globally, there is still the issue of nutrition, the other half of the battle. ART effectiveness is compromised if the patient is not well nourished. In third world countries there is much work to be done in providing infected people with adequate nutrition. In the countries most affected, HIV has already reduced life expectancy by more than 20 years, slowed economic growth, and deepened household poverty. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, the epidemic has orphaned nearly 14.8 million children. The natural age distribution has been dramatically skewed by HIV, with potentially perilous consequences for the transfer of knowledge and values from one generation to the next.
As in most epidemics, localised reverses occur. Despite global progress, the 2012 UNAIDS report relays that “Worrisome increases in AIDS-related mortality were observed in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (21%) and the Middle East and North Africa (17%).
According to UNDP, HIV has inflicted the “single greatest reversal in human development in modern history.”
According to the latest report from the UN, at the current rate of infections and deaths, HIV/AIDS will continue to be a significant epidemic for the next 40 to 50 years. This is shocking, but we must remember at least the numbers are going in the right direction. 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% in the last two years alone.
However, international assistance remains a critical lifeline for many countries. In 26 of 33 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, donor support accounts for more than half of HIV investments. The successes achieved in this field are good examples of determined national action, backed up by international co-operation and resources.
In just the three decades since the HIV epidemic started, over 30 million people have died of AIDS, and 34 million more have become infected with the deadly virus.
What is ElectricAid doing to help?
HIV/AIDS is a cross-cutting issue for ElectricAid, which serves to prioritise our funding in Health care, education, basic infrastructure, nutrition, and agriculture. We contribute to life-saving projects in the care of AIDS orphans, in Home Based Care, nutrition and medical care, AIDS education and behavioural change. Our projects have ranged from sophisticated web-based awareness projects, right down to the simple humanity of giving blankets to helpless people dying of AIDS. We also fund many projects which seek to economically empower survivors (mostly widows and orphans) with enterprise and education.
Since 2009 we have funded 37 projects, in 13 different countries with €287,000. These funds are saving and changing lives right now in India, Africa and Latin America.
The situation may be catastrophic, but the solutions are within our grasp. HIV+ people in developed countries live long and near normal lives. This can be attributed to increased awareness, education, the availability of anti-retroviral drugs and good nutrition. Through ElectricAid, we are helping HIV+ people in the developing world a chance to live near-normal lives, just like their counter-parts in developed countries.
Since you opened this message, 30 people have been infected with HIV, and 20 people have died of AIDS-related illness. That’s 3,456 new preventable infections and 2,304 preventable deaths by the end of today.
Can we just look away and ignore this avoidable tragedy?
Come on board, help us to help them in their hour of greatest need.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa, and how we can reach out and help.
Lisa Fitzpatrick of ElectricAid discusses the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa, and how we can reach out and help.
- Care of HIV positive people, and of those suffering from AIDS. This has to include proper nutrition, and the use of antiretroviral drugs. The cost of this medication is a huge issue for developing countries. A recent ElectricAid project was not for high-tech medicines, but simply for blankets for AIDS sufferers. We have also funded the development of HBC (Home Based Care) programmes in Uganda and Kenya.
- Care and education for AIDS orphans, many of whom are HIV positive themselves. HIV/AIDS is one of ElectricAid’s funding priorities; we fund about 7-10 projects per year dealing with the care and education of AIDS orphans.
- Prevention of new infections through behaviour modification and the promotion of safe sex practices.
- Economic empowerment of survivors and widows. There are thousands of small widows’ groups in Africa, who have come together to help themselves in enterprise and agriculture. ElectricAid has been glad to help some of these groups.
- Education and awareness campaigns – probably the most effective long term approach. ElectricAid has been active in this area, in projects ranging from leaflet campaigns, training of community animators, to web-based initiatives.
Essentially, this is the world’s battle. It took two centuries for Europe’s population and economy to recover from the Black Death. In the 21st century, are we to allow the developing world, and Africa in particular, to follow the same path? We can, and must, reach out and do otherwise.