World AIDS Day 2010: Universal Access and Human Rights

World AIDS Campaign - click to visit their website

WorldAIDS day is recognised each year on the 1st December. Although in some parts of the world real progress is being made against the epidemic, it doesn’t mean that we can relax and forget about it.

AIDS Ribbons

There are some really interesting datasets on the WHO website related to this theme, including global trends to the present and the current state of HIV infections in the world.

Millenium Development Goal 6 is “Combat HIV and AIDS“. Over past years, World AIDS Campaign slogans have included Keep the Promise and this year they focus on this MDG with their theme of “Universal Access and Human Rights.”

Universal Access means access to prevention, education, treatment and care. The message is spreading, the technologies and medicines are developing and the will is there to change. Now we need to make sure that it gets to the people who really need it.

This reverse-timelapse video of a patient who has access to anti-retroviral medications shows the impact that access can have on a person’s life:

Graph from

Despite the great advances being made in treatment, however, prevention must be the number one focus for efforts and money spent on HIV/AIDS. Programmes such as intervention mapping and education with realistic, achievable and workable methods for each community has to be a real focus for the spending of money raised. Otherwise, infection rates will increase and there’s no way we can afford to treat more and more people each year.

In this enlightening TED Talk, Elisabeth Pisani pays Indonesia a visit and highlights that sometimes there are rational reasons behind the poor decisions that people make, leading eventually to HIV infection. If people are well enough educated to be aware of the risks of HIV and blood-borne infections, then are the systems in place that allow them to make the decisions that are most sensible for them?

So what you can you do about it?

1. Keep yourself safe. Never forget the simple messages of HIV prevention and take care in your activities. Stay healthy, use condoms (or don’t have sex), avoid drug use and insist on new, sterilised needles for tattoos and blood transfusions.

2. Stay aware. Revisit HIV/AIDS education resources and don’t let yourself think that just because some advances are being made, it is OK to forget about the risks.

3. Spread the message. Discuss the risks, find out about the prevalence and risk factors of HIV in your area. Wear a ribbon and use it to start conversations with others.

4. Use reliable, evidence-based health information in your decision-making and encourage others to do the same. Real medicine is based on the scientific method and is rigorous. ‘Alternatives’, quite simply, are not.


Other posts on this site about HIV/AIDS:

Stephen Fry’s HIV and Me

Great documentary following the lives of some HIV patients in the UK.

Defense Against Infectious Disease

Resources for 6.3 and 11.1 of the IB Biology course.

HIV/AIDS: Dangerous Denialism

TOK-related resources based on denialist views against the – very well established – link between HIV and AIDS, fuelled by the ‘documentary’ House of Numbers. You really must read Ben Goldacre’s chapter on this topic from his Bad Science book (free link here).

About Stephen

International Educator: China via Japan, Indonesia & the UK. Director of Innovation in Learning & Teaching. Science educator. Twitterist (@sjtylr), dad and bloggerer. MA International Education & current EdD student. Experienced Director of Learning & MYP Coordinator. Interested in curriculum, pedagogy, purposeful EdTech and global competence. Find out more: Science site:

Posted on November 30, 2010, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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