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01-12-2020 07:58

Message by the Commissioner for Volunteerism and Non-Governmental Organizations on World AIDS Day – 1st December

The World AIDS Day takes place on 1st December each year since 1988, after a decision of the World Health Organization (WHO). This year's theme is “Global Solidarity, Shared Responsibility”. Although significant progress has been made against HIV since the late 1990s, but it remains a public health challenge, especially now that the COVID-19 pandemic is plaguing the world.

HIV prevention, diagnoses, treatments and care services face problems, especially in countries with fragile health systems. Interruption of essential HIV services due to the pandemic is life threatening. On the positive side, worldwide health professionals continue to provide these services in other innovative ways, overcoming the obstacles posed by the pandemic.

On the occasion of December 1, the WHO pays tribute to those who provide HIV services, calling on leaders and citizens to show global solidarity, with the aim of maintaining at least basic services during and after the pandemic. In addition, 2020, which is the International Year of Nursing and Midwifery, requires even more protection and support for these health professionals, who are at the forefront of HIV. According to the WHO, we can all contribute to the effort to eradicate AIDS.

The HIV virus targets the human immune system, making its body vulnerable to infections and certain types of cancer. The most advanced stage of HIV infection is AIDS, i.e. Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. The following statistics speak for themselves:

 According to the World Health Organization, in 2019:

  • 38 million people were living with HIV.
  • 1,7 million people were newly infected.
  • 690.000 people died from HIV-related causes.
  • 68% of adults with HIV were receiving antiretroviral therapy.

The Executive Director of UNAIDS, the United Nations AIDS Office, Ms Winnie Byanyima, said in a message this year: “World AIDS Day 2020 is unlike any other. The pandemic threatens progress in global health over the past 20 years, including advances in tackling HIV.

I salute the volunteers working in the field of HIV, who have once again proved to be the pillars of the whole effort. They tirelessly campaign for treatment for patients for many months, distribute medicines or financial assistance at home, offer food and shelter to vulnerable groups.”

The Office of the Commissioner for Volunteerism and Non-Governmental Organizations congratulates also the volunteers and Organizations that actively support the people living with HIV/AIDS in Cyprus, their families and their partners. It also recognizes their efforts to combat prejudice, raise civil society awareness and prevent the spread of the virus.