December 1st is World AIDS Day, a day dedicated to reflection and awareness of the global AIDS epidemic due to the spread of the HIV virus. Year after year, scientific research has made great strides but there is still a long way to go.
In 1981 there was talk for the first time of an inexplicable increase in pneumonia and, in the span of 40 years, there are more than 35 million victims of AIDS worldwide. Today we celebrate the need to pursue all the objectives set by the research and above all that of defeating the epidemic by 2030.
THE ORIGINS AND MEANING OF THE DAY
In 1988, a Summit of Health Ministers on AIDS prevention programs was established. It was here that World AIDS Day was born and the idea was soon adopted by governments, associations, and international organizations.
Unaids, the United Nations organization dedicated to the fight against AIDS, organized this day from 1987 to 2004. But since 2005, the WAC, an independent organization, has taken the reins. To date, this day is dedicated to reflection and celebration of research that has never stopped.
This is one of the most aggressive epidemics in history, detected in 1981 when an abnormal increase in pneumonia was reported among young homosexuals. Fear and discrimination, especially towards the LGBTQ + community, took over and destroyed the lives of many people.
The virus was identified by Robert Gallo three years after its first appearance, but this was only the beginning of a difficult journey. In less than six years, the first drug to control the infection arrived and after ten years HAART arrived, a therapy capable of reducing AIDS mortality.
World AIDS Day has among its objectives that of remembering the existence of this disease, especially at this time when world attention is focused on Covid-19. Being fully aware of the risks and reflecting on prevention and on the existence of therapies currently in progress does not in fact cease to be extremely important.
WHERE ARE WE WITH RESEARCH?
Research has never stopped dedicating itself to this epidemic. Hans Kluge, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO) said that in recent years many European countries have worked to increase testing and treatment.
But while everyone’s goal is to end AIDS by 2030, the Covid-19 pandemic has not only turned people’s gaze away from AIDS but has made access to prevention services more difficult. . And in the most troubled countries, vaccines against Covid for AIDS patients are struggling to arrive. Reducing geographical and social inequalities would therefore be a fundamental step to stopping their spread and this is precisely one of the central themes of World AIDS Day.
KNOW AND PREVENT
The awareness of the existence of HIV has allowed many people to reduce its spread, thanks to prevention. AIDS is still deadly, but compared to the past it is easier to control it and carry out more effective therapies. Reading the data of the last few years, one can see the great steps taken in these 40 years.
In fact, as many as 26 million people currently have access to antiretroviral therapy, which has made it possible to reduce the mortality of AIDS. Furthermore, this type of therapy given to HIV-positive pregnant women limits the risk of the fetus contracting the virus. One of the best channels to make everyone more aware is certainly sexuality education among young people. Schools are the perfect place to address these issues, educating students on condom use and AIDS prevention.