With World AIDS Day following Thanksgiving so closely this year, let's be thankful ...
I'm thankful for global efforts contributing to successes in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. This year UNAIDS reports that in the last decade the number of babies infected by HIV each year has halved. The number still isn't good -- 260,000 babies are newly infected with HIV annually -- but it's getting better. Nearly two thirds of mothers are getting HIV medicines during and after pregnancy, and in some of the world's hardest hit countries, like South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, as many as 90 percent of mothers are getting the medicines they need. We need to help all countries get there.
I'm thankful for new WHO guidelines that promote delivering life-saving treatment to more people living with HIV. Each year the number of people living with HIV goes up, in part because more people living with the infection get treatment and don't die. In 2012, nearly 10 million people were receiving HIV medicines; a 20-fold increase from a decade earlier. With the new guidelines, 26 million of the 35 million people currently living with HIV will be eligible for treatment. The need is great. We must rise to the challenge.
I'm thankful for organizations, big and small, global and local, who have dedicated themselves to raising awareness, preventing, caring for, funding, researching and legislating towards a world in which people aren't infected with HIV and those infected can live positive and productive lives. The organization names and acronyms read like alphabet soup, and for fear of leaving out some, I won't name any; but you know who you are. Even if we're not infected, we're all affected. In this Thanksgiving season, know we're grateful for all you do.
I'm thankful for people, in academic centers and communities, governments and grassroots organizations, donors and providers, mothers and fathers, doctors, nurses, front-line health workers in hospitals and health stations, advocates and campaigners who have committed to, invested in, believe and act in any and every way they can to end this scourge.
I'm thankful for Denise and all of the wonderful, brave, inspiring women like her who overcome obstacles that I can't begin to imagine, with spirit, faith and enduring trust. They get out of bed every morning with hope, believing there's so much to be done before the sun sets. Please see her story here.
I'm thankful for a future which is finally within reach. A future in which people don't get infected with HIV. A future in which those infected receive the medicine and care they need. A future in which campaigns to raise awareness and funds are no longer necessary. A future in which we look back at what has been done, not forward at what needs to be done.
Let's dream of World AIDS Day as a day of remembrance rather than a call to action. And let's give thanks for what's being done to make this dream a reality.
This blog post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post, The Global Fund and (RED), in recognition of both World AIDS Day (Dec. 1) and the Global Fund's replenishment launch (taking place in Washington, D.C., December 2-3, where global leaders will determine how much money to allocate to the Global Fund over the next three years). The Global Fund is the Geneva-based financing organization that leads the fight against AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. (RED) has to date raised $215 million, with 100 percent of that money going to the Global Fund to fund AIDS programs in Africa. To see all the other posts in this series, visit here. To help fight AIDS, check out the "DANCE (RED) SAVE LIVES 2" album here and watch the DANCE (RED) SAVE LIVES 2 livestream on World AIDS Day from Australia here on the Huffington Post.
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