World AIDS Day (December 1), an international day observed every year since 1988 for supporting people around the globe living with and affected by HIV and remembrance of those who have lost their battle with the disease.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic has caused a complex systematic change in human ecology. It has unleashed secondary impacts that have demographic and epidemiological consequences, which in turn create feedback loops in to the dynamics of the epidemic itself. But it is entirely preventable through awareness. Therefore, raising awareness about its occurrence and spread is of utmost importance in protecting the people from the epidemic.
But in the current year of 2020, COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the health system worldwide. The way the disease has spread shows the fractures and inequalities of our society; it also shows how interconnected we are. It is a threat to human species, like AIDS, is located among the poorest and most marginalised in our society. This means global responses, however grounded in common sense and self-interest, need to be driven by responsibility and compassion. Keeping this in mind, the theme of World AIDS Day this year is ‘Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic through Resilience and Impact’.
The COVID-19 crisis has aggravated the challenges faced by the people living with HIV/AIDS, women & girls, key populations and has widened the socio-economic inequalities that multiply the vulnerability of marginalised groups to HIV. The rights of women and girls, specifically, areat stake. The socio-cultural factors like gender inequality and violence against women contribute towards the spread of the disease. The pandemic has significantly affected women’s livelihoods, which have been disproportionally affected by lockdown measures, and lockdowns have increased violence against women in household settings. However, this crisis has also been an opportunity to do things in a different manner in solidarity. Now is the time for valiant leadership for equal societies, the right to health for all and unbiased global recovery. Thus, the defeat of AIDS as a public health threat depends on how the world responds to COVID-19.
(The writer is a Ph.D Research Scholar, Amity University, Noida)