Each year on December 1, millions of people throughout the world commemorate World AIDS Day. World AIDS Day is about raising awareness of HIV and AIDS and is a great opportunity to take action on HIV and AIDS education in schools.
Teachers and their organisations have a key role to play; they provide education, an essential step towards reaching universal HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment, care, and support. By being active in their schools on December 1, they show their leadership and contribute to the success of World AIDS Day.
Through Education International’s EFAIDS Programme, teachers and their unions have been committed to educating about HIV and AIDS issues and supporting teachers and students living with HIV. World AIDS Day provides an occasion to celebrate the huge achievements made by teachers and their organisations over the last five years of the programme.
On December 1, Education International invites and encourages teachers and their unions to celebrate World AIDS Day within their schools, unions and communities, to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS and show solidarity with people living with HIV.
The United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) just launched a new report – The 2011 UNAIDS World AIDS Day report– which shows that 2011 was a year of progress as new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths have fallen to the lowest levels since the peak of the epidemic. New HIV infections were reduced by 21% since 1997, and deaths from AIDS-related illnesses decreased by 21% since 2005.
Moreover, the report highlights a number of achievements and trends concerning HIV/AIDS worldwide:
Declines in new HIV infections are being spurred by changes in sexual behaviour, particularly in young people, as people reduce their numbers of sexual partners, increase condom use and are waiting longer before becoming sexually active.
In sub-Saharan Africa the number of new HIV infections has dropped by more than 26%, from the height of the epidemic in 1997, led by a one third drop in South Africa, the country with the largest number of new HIV infections in the world.
In the Caribbean, new HIV infections were reduced by a third from 2001 levels - and by more than 25% in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. Similarly the number of new HIV infections in South- and South-East Asia dropped by more than 40% between 1996 and 2010. In India new HIV infections fell by 56%.
However, the number of new HIV infections continues to rise in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Oceania and Middle-East and North Africa, while it has remained stable in other regions of the world.
According to UNAIDS and WHO estimates, 47% (6.6 million) of the estimated 14.2 million people eligible for treatment in low- and middle-income countries were accessing lifesaving antiretroviral therapy in 2010, an increase of 1.35 million since 2009.