Dear IFMSA family,
Once again, during December 1st, weve all worked tirelessly together to celebrate World AIDS Day. Now, with the most important staple event for SCORA coming to an end, its time to look back and get some food for thought.
Future health professionals have always used World AIDS Day to make their voices heard and fight against HIV and AIDS. We hold workshops, raise awareness in the streets (sometimes under extreme weather conditions, I can tell first hand) do flash-mobs and promote online campaigns among others. We do all that because we still recognize the HIV pandemic for what it is, a major burden for public health that claims hundreds of thousands of lives every year. Since the very beginning of the epidemic, 39 million people have perished due to AIDS and globally right now 35 million are living with HIV.
Things are looking better though, thanks to huge efforts both internationally and nationally, new HIV transmissions have decreased almost 40% and the HIV related goals that expire in 2015 were partially achieved. Still, we all know that theres a long road to walk and that the end of AIDS is nowhere near unless we gear up and keep working hard.
For this years international campaign we decided to put more emphasis on stigma and discrimination, especially in healthcare settings. Truth is that many people living with HIV still experience major discrimination in the form of denial of health care, unjust barriers to service provision, inferior quality of care, low respect and even psychological or physical abuse. Of course, all these are huge obstacles that jeopardize the fight against HIV and AIDS leading to reduced uptake of HIV testing, potential rejection of the available treatment and worse care in general.
UNAIDS (The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) has already anchored his 2016-2021 strategy to end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat in a true commitment to reach Zero Discrimination. Of course, such an ambitious goal cannot be achieved without an active engagement from the different involved parties (communities, health workers etc.)
IFMSA has great influence and participation in decision making events and therefore the responsibility to play by the same rules. Tackling stigma and discrimination in our strategies from the very beginning is a must, to do this we require a multi sectorial approach in which each individual plays a decisive role.
So guys, when you look back at all the work youve done today, you should feel proud. Feel proud that you went out on the streets and spread compassion and knowledge, feel proud of every single person that learnt something thanks to you, feel proud to be tacking stigma and discrimination from its very own root, ignorance and finally, feel proud to be part of this global joint effort that step by step aims to and will reverse the HIV epidemic one day.
Sending SCORA love,
Director on Sexual and Reproductive health and HIV/AIDS
Click here for the testimonial booklet we promised for today, its beautiful and Im sure you will love it 😉