Washington, D.C., November 30, 2007
– The American Public Health Association (APHA) and the World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA) will join the global community tomorrow in observing World AIDS Day and renewing our commitment to fighting the global AIDS epidemic in communities all around the world.
According to the latest report from the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, new data show that global HIV prevalence has leveled off and that the number of new infections has fallen. However, despite the progress that has been made, this year 2.5 million people became newly infected and 2.1 million people died of AIDS. Globally, there are 33.2 million people now estimated to be living with HIV.
“World AIDS Day is a reminder to leaders around the world that we must remain vigilant and commit the necessary resources to fight this disease that has taken the lives of millions of men, women and children,” said Barbara Hatcher, PhD, MPH, RN, secretary general of WFPHA. “More effective treatment and prevention, along with better access to therapies, remains needed across the globe to address this devastating epidemic.”
The theme of World AIDS Day is “Leadership.” Organizers are taking this opportunity to remind the global community that there is no better time than now for leaders at all levels to recommit themselves to stopping AIDS. In the United States, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which serves as the nation’s global AIDS bill and expires in 2008, is the focus of efforts to ensure that the United States renew its financial commitment to fighting AIDS around the world.
“PEPFAR has made great strides in ensuring that people around the world have access to life-saving drugs, and that they are receiving prevention information and tools that help them stop the spread of HIV. However, the fight is far from over,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of APHA. “We call on the president and members of Congress to work together to appropriate sufficient funding to adequately address this global epidemic that continues to take millions of lives each year. We also urge our leaders to continue to work to address the AIDS crisis in our nation, paying particular attention to the vulnerable populations that bear the burden of the epidemic in the United States.”
It is estimated that around 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV/AIDS. Experts believe that approximately one-quarter of those infected with HIV are unaware of their status. Wide disparities exist in United States with regards to HIV, with racial and ethnic minorities representing a large majority of new AIDS cases. Women also account for a high percentage of new AIDS diagnoses, rising from 8 percent in 1985 to 27 percent in 2005.
WFPHA is an international, nongovernmental organization representing 70 national and regional public health societies and associations of public health schools. Founded in 1967, WFPHA is the only worldwide professional society representing and serving the broad field of public health. More information is available at www.WFPHA.org.