On World AIDS Day, I typically take time to reflect on the people I have met who have been affected by this ongoing crisis. They are people like Esther, the 13-year-old girl in Kenya who was caring for her AIDS-wasted slip of a mother, as well as her three brothers. They are grannies like 98-year-old Sara Nduku, living in the rural village of Tala, Kenya, who graciously took her great-grandson under her wing because no one was left to look after him. And they are young children like Mary, who was left to starve after her parents died of AIDS; she was mute and trembling when she was found, living under a lean-to of plastic and cardboard. These people are all doing well now, thanks to their own resiliency, courage and determination - and that of many others who are working to meet the challenges of HIV/AIDS.
This year, interestingly enough, the event seems to be passing with little news, and less news coverage than usual. Last week, UNAIDS and the World Health Organization issued their annual status report on the epidemic, which showed that not much has changed. The figures remain staggering, with 2 million people last year felled by the disease. Sub-Saharan Africa remains the world’s epicenter of the epidemic, home to more than 22 million people who are infected with the virus, including 2.1 million children. Antiretroviral treatment is now reaching about 4 million people, though there are still five million others who still need this life-giving therapy, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. There is still so much yet to be done.