World AIDS Day is an opportunity for all of us to learn the facts about HIV. By increasing the understanding of how HIV is transmitted, how it can be prevented, and the reality of living with HIV today-we can use this knowledge to take care of our own health and the health of others.
After 30 years of the global fight against HIV/AIDS, this year the focus is on achieving 3 targets
Zero new HIV infections.
Zero AIDS-related death.
The care needs of PLHIV, as well as those affected by HIV/AIDS, are substantial and require a comprehensive response. An essentialcomponent of services delivered to PLHIV and their families, palliative care is the combination of measures that relieve suffering and improve quality of life for those facing problems associated with progressive, chronic, life-threatening illnesses such as HIV, cancer, or Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The leadership is general, however, as each locality will need to adapt the strategy to fit its needs and resources. While palliative care is provided as part of routine care in a number of diseases,this strategy focuses on steps that can be taken to extend palliative care for people living with HIV and their loved ones.
Palliative care in HIV is vital to address the high burden of pain and other symptoms caused by illness, medicine side effects and toxicity, immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome, and co-morbidities such as cancer or hepatitis and other problems.
Depression and other mental health problems in PLHIV are substantially higher than for the general population, and social and spiritual problems are also common.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) represents an innovative collaboration involving ten United Nations Cosponsors and the UNAIDS Secretariat. UNAIDS strength derives from the diverse expertise, experience and mandate of its Cosponsors and the added value of the Secretariat in leadership and advocacy, coordination and joint accountability. UNAIDS mission is to lead and inspire the world in achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by:
Uniting the efforts of the United Nations system, civil society, national governments, the private sector, global institutions and people living with and most affected by HIV; Speaking out in solidarity with the people most affected by HIV in defence of human
dignity, human rights and gender equality; Mobilising political, technical, scientific and financial resources and holding ourselves and others accountable for results; Empowering agents of change with strategic information and evidence to influence and ensure that resources are targeted where they deliver the greatest impact and bring about a prevention revolution; and Supporting inclusive country leadership for sustainable responses that are integral to and integrated with national health and development efforts.
Despite the great strides in increasing treatment – ART access across the world, there remain many areas where there is no or inconsistent access. Palliative care services are needed in all these contexts, and wherever possible they should be integrated into existing HIV car services.
Palliative care is globally recognized as pivotal in HIV care to improve the quality of life of people and families living with HIV and other diseases that require palliative care.
The primary objectives are to:
increase local capacity to deliver palliative care
support increased access to palliative care
throughout the continuum of care
integrate palliative care into existing care,
support, and treatment services
advocate for sustainable and holistic palliative
care locally and globally
increase access to essential palliative care
medicines and commodities
facilitate development of palliative care
policies, programs, and training
increase the quality of palliative care services
According to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, “Stigma remains the single most important barrier to public action. It is a main reason why too many people are afraid to see a doctor to determine whether they have the disease, or to seek treatment if so.
It helps make AIDS the silent killer, because people fear the social disgrace of speaking about it, or taking easily available precautions. Stigma is a chief reason why the AIDS epidemic continues to devastate societies around the world.”
Discrimination with PLHIVs includes both the fear of getting the disease and also negative assumptions about people who are living with this disease. AIDS-related stigma has had a profound effect on the pandemicâ€™s course. The World Health Organization cites fear of stigma and discrimination as the main reason why people are reluctant to be tested, to disclose their HIV status or to takeÂ antiretroviral drugs. “We can fight stigma. Enlightened laws and policies are key. But it begins with openness, the courage to speak out. Schools should teachrespect and understanding. Religious leaders should preach tolerance.
The media should condemn prejudice and use its influence to advance social change, from securing legal protections to ensuring access to health care.”Â Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations.
If we keep doing what weâ€™re doing all these years, where do we see our self? Weâ€™ll make progress in some areas but are they are sufficient? Are they the areas that mean the most?
Most of us would love to move forward in certain areas while working in this field and face hardship. Sometimes we are so used to thinking a certain way that we canâ€™t seem to make a first definite step, even though we know deep down in our hearts that itâ€™s the right thing to do.
With that in mind, actions we can take today that could make a big difference to achieve the theme for World AIDS Day 2011 is “Getting to Zero.”In closing, donâ€™t wait until the time is just right to take the first step toward achieving Getting to Zero. The time willÂ neverÂ be just right. Make the resolution to start now and go service to mankind which matters most in our life.
Today, despite advances in HIV treatment and in laws designed to protect those living with HIV; many people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV or about the stigma and discrimination that remain a reality for many people living with HIV.
World AIDS Day is an important reminder to individuals and governments that HIV has not gone away â€“ there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.