As the world marks the 26th annual World AIDS Day, a renewed effort is underway to ensure that today’s youth generation receives the education they need to bring the virus to an end.
According to UNICEF statistics, AIDS remains the number one cause of death among adolescents in Africa, and the second cause worldwide, and a disproportionate number are girls.
Study after study shows that education plays a significant role in not only reducing the cases of HIV, but in helping remove the stigma and discrimination that is so often placed upon those living with the virus. By ensuring that all girls receive a quality education, studies reveal that HIV rates, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, dramatically decline. Falling infection rates in Zimbabwe, for example, have been directly attributed to the increase of women, 75 percent overall, aged 15 to 24 who had completed lower secondary school.
By 2020, international targets are aimed at hitting the 90/90/90 goal to see that 90 percent of all of those living with HIV are aware of their status; that 90 percent of those with HIV will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy; and that 90 percent of those receiving therapy will have viral suppression.
It has been more than 30 years since the first case of HIV/AIDS was identified, but the indiscriminating virus continues to affect the lives of people around the world. Today, an estimated 34 million people continue to with HIV/AIDS, while more than 35 million have succumbed to the virus over the past three decades.
First held in 1988, World AIDS Day is as important in 2014 as it was during the early days of the epidemic. With a global objective to eradicate the virus by 2030, a greater awareness push is underway in order to see that the next generation of youth lives in a world free of AIDS.