Just three months ago, the UN announced that “the goal of 15 million people on life-saving HIV treatment by the end of 2015 has been met nine months ahead of schedule. The world has exceeded the AIDS targets of Millennium Development Goal 6 and is on track to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.”
15 million people! That’s as compared with about a quarter of a million in 2001 – 60 times as many!
Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of the UN’s AIDS body, said recently, “We have halted and begun to reverse the epidemic. Fewer people are becoming infected with HIV and fewer people are dying from AIDS.”
At a day conference in St John’s Hebburn, last Saturday, I first recalled the truly shocking situation in relation to AIDS in Africa at the turn of the Millennium, which caused Carol Bellamy, the Director of UNICEF, to say that, “We believe AIDS is the worst catastrophe ever to hit the world”. Yes indeed: “They die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”
Next I described the transformation that has taken place since then. Then I gave the audience ‘a good telling off’, demanding to know, “Why aren’t you on your feet, cheering?! If you can’t see that this is one of humanity’s greatest achievements of the new millennium, I simply don’t understand you!”
And yes, I know we have far to go with HIV/AIDS, with the obscenity of 200,000 babies still being infected at birth p.a., for example, and other daunting challenges, but…
6 October 2015