World AIDS Day, 1 December is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Started in 1988, World AIDS Day is not just about raising money, but also about increasing awareness, fighting prejudice and improving education. World AIDS Day is important in reminding people that HIV has not gone away, and that there are many things still to be done.


This year’s theme for the day is “human rights and access to treatment”.  The theme has been chosen to address the critical need to protect human rights and make HIV prevention, treatment, care and support accessible to all. The theme acts as a call to countries to remove laws that discriminate against people living with HIV.

UNAIDS and the World Health Organization released its annual AIDS Epidemic Update on 24 November this year, indicating that 33.4 million people were living with HIV in 2008, up slightly from 2007. The higher figure is credited to increased availability to treatment allowing more people to live longer. Overall, the data indicates that new infections have dropped 17 percent over the past eight years. Despite areas of progress, children still account for 2.1 million of people living with HIV, although the number of deaths has declined. The number of children newly infected with HIV in 2008 was roughly 18% lower than in 2001.

HIV in India

India has a population of one billion, around half of whom are adults in the sexually active age group. The first AIDS case in India was detected in 1986; since then HIV infection has been reported in all states and union territories. The spread of HIV in India has been diverse, with much of India having a low rate of infection and the epidemic being most extreme in the southern half of the country and in the far north-east. The highest HIV prevalence rates are found in Maharashtra in the west; Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka in the south; and Manipur and Nagaland in the north-east. As of August 2006, 90% of all nationally reported AIDS cases have been found in 10 of the 38 states and union territories.

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