According to WHO 2008 records there are now 33.4 million people living with HIV, An estimated 2.7 million were newly infected with the virus and 2 million died of AIDS the same year.
Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region most heavily affected by HIV. In 2008, sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 67% of HIV infections worldwide, 68% of new HIV infections among adults and 91% of new HIV infections among children.
The region also accounted for 72% of the world’s AIDS-related deaths in 2008.
Campaigners from around the world will be coming together on World AIDS Day, 1 December, to commemorate the theme of universal access and human rights. The Light for Rights events on World AIDS Day 2010 on 1 December seeks to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and to demonstrate international solidarity and will to focus on the right of universal access and human rights.
It is right that there is international solidarity but I was also struck by the comments of Masi Makhalemele-Cowper in the ‘Church Times’ this week (26th November 2010). Masi has a long tradition of activism but after considerable activism she believes that it is on the ground and not in the ‘echelons of power that change will come.’ Her belief is that chasing pharmaceutical companies, governments and policy makers takes too long. As a result she established Mercy AIDS Foundation (MAF).
‘Women in rual communities do not have the support, courage or motivation to keep themselves going in order to bring up their children.’
MAF is based on the premise: Keep the mother alive and offers personal and business development and skills alongside ‘wellness’ and treatment for women and youth with HIV. She believes that by keeping the women well there will be a healthier society in South Africa.
Masi was found to be HIV positive when pregnant and as a result lost her husband and job, she did not expect to live long and certainly not until 40 (which she now is). If we are going to see more women live we need both activism but we must also support localism.