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World AIDS Day 2013: An Overview

Liviane Urquiza's picture
© World Bank

As a symbol of its commitment to combating AIDS, the World Bank Group places the red ribbon on the facade of its headquarters in Washington.

Every year, December 1 serves as a reminder that despite the scientific advances made in recent years, AIDS remains pervasive across the world and continues to claim victims. Sustained commitment is critical if we wish to halt the spread of the virus and its devastating impact on poverty reduction efforts.

In a guidance document, the World Health Organization emphasizes the importance of improving access by adolescents (aged 10 to 19) to preventive services, treatment, and care. The establishment of free screening programs would provide this population segment with access to earlier treatment and limit the risk of infection by those unaware of their seropositive status.

According to the new figures published by the United Nations agency UNAIDS, in 2012:

  • Approximately 35 million people were living with HIV, 2.1 million of whom were adolescents.
  • New HIV infections among children had decreased by 52 percent since 2001.
  • The total number of new HIV infections had decreased by 33 percent since 2001.
  • Approximately 9.7 million people living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries had access to antiretroviral treatment.*

Also worth noting is the release last month of the second edition of the 2013 report published by the NGO ONE, in which it projects that the world will achieve “the beginning of the end of AIDS” in 2015. This optimism is shared by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which estimates that the world will soon be able to “deal a death blow to the HIV pandemic.”

One of the key stakeholders in the fight against AIDS, the NGO Doctors Without Borders has created an informative mini-website dedicated to HIV/AIDS called See What We See, where the major challenges and solutions for halting the spread of the virus and ensuring access to care for the sick are presented.

* 34 percent of eligible people, according to WHO guidelines.

Prevent Millions of Infections

Young girls are particularly vulnerable to the risk of HIV because of rampant violence against them. UNICEF/P. Esteve.Young girls are particularly vulnerable to the risk of HIV because of rampant violence against them. UNICEF/P. Esteve.

Young girls are particularly vulnerable to the risk of HIV because of rampant violence against them. UNICEF/P. Esteve.

Although a vaccine is not yet available, AIDS can be conquered. To achieve this goal, all infected persons must be screened as early as possible and have access to antiretroviral (ARV) treatment. Despite the increase in financing over the past decade, funds dedicated to combating AIDS remain inadequate (international assistance fell from US$7.6 billion to US$6.9 billion between 2009 and 2010), and available funding is largely unpredictable and devoted primarily to treatment.

The World Bank Group is one of the major supporters of the fight against AIDS, providing a total of over US$4.6 billion in assistance since 1989.

In 2012, just under US$19 billion was dedicated to combating AIDS. The amount of financing must be increased. In fact, based on UNAIDS estimates, between US$22 billion and US$24 billion will be necessary to cover annual needs by 2015.

Protect Yourself

The best way to conquer AIDS is to ensure that there are zero new infections. Use condoms, avoid risky sexual behavior: below, young people in East and South Africa highlight some simple solutions for protecting themselves and others by containing the spread of the virus.


I Want to Stay HIV-Free