HIV/AIDS Is No Longer A Tale Of Hopelessness –Anyafulu

BY JOSHUA ERUBAMI
In what could be described as a beacon of hope for People Living with Human Immune Virus and Acquired Deficiency Syndrome (PLWHIV/AIDS), the Executive Director of the International Centre for Women Empowerment and Child Development (ICWECD), Barr. Bridget Anyafulu has said that the fight against the infection has been progressive and yielding positive results.
Barr. Anyafulu stated this in a lecture during the activities to mark this year’s AIDS Candle Light Memorial Day which took place at the premises of the ICWECD, Asaba, Delta State. She disclosed that the number of people receiving anti-retroviral therapy as well as those having access to HIV testing and counseling have been on the increase in recent times, adding that the number of people living with the infection as well as those dying of it are now on a sharp decline.
The Executive Director, who described the trend as a function of science and research, also averred that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has shown that access to anti-retroviral therapy in low and middle income countries increased from 400,000 in 2003 to 6.65 million in 2010 while a total of 2.7 million people acquired the infection in 2010 as against the 3.1 million cases recorded in 2001 alone.
She said: “the future is looking increasingly good, promising and encouraging. This optimism is, perhaps, best expressed in the current theme for the celebration of World AIDS day which will expire after this year’s celebration of the international AIDS day. That is, getting to zero-zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.
“Fortunately, the future inspires more optimism than pessimism – more hope than despair. HIV/AIDS is no longer a tale of hopelessness as it was in the past. Thanks to the extraordinary progress achieved over the past decades in the response of the health sector to the disease – the increased funding and commitment from development partners, advanced nations, government, civil society organisations and network of people living with HIV/AIDS; technical innovation; and international collaboration.
“What a difference from the grim situation of 1983 when contracting HIV virtually amounted to a death sentence and when the first AIDS Candle Light Memorial at San Francisco was held under the theme Fight for our Lives”, she stressed.
Notwithstanding these positive strides, Barr. Anyafulu warned that the world may still be at risk if adequate caution was not taken, considering the fact that about 33 million people are still living with the virus. She, therefore, advised that “we must redouble our efforts and renew our commitment to support the future”.