Today marks the 27th World AIDS day, but from a quick look online or on TV, you’d be hard pressed to know it. Why?
That was the question on Sam Ferris’ mind tonight, as she guest hosted Drex Live.
“I’m just so disappointed in myself and social media compatriots that we have not paid enough attention to this. We’ve been celebrating – if that’s the right word – this for [nearly] 30 years, yet did you see it anywhere?”
And it’s a good question. Statistics show globally, AIDS is still a massive problem. New figures from the UN agency for children show HIV and AIDS to be the leading cause of death for teens in Africa, and the second most common killer for adolescents globally. Here in Canada, it affects 65,000 people.
Success at home
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Maxine Davis, Executive Director of Vancouver’s Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation says here in BC, it’s been a huge AIDS success story.
She says she also noticed that World AIDS day was quieter this year, but she says that’s partly a measure of success, as the community looked back at how far we’ve come.
“It is absolutely going in the right direction. I assure you, I have been working in HIV AIDS health care for 20 years now, and I am as thrilled, and pumped, and excited about the successes and what is being accomplished as much as any time in my career, and I see just continued success ahead.”
Davis says locally and provincially, new cases of HIV are dropping, and deaths form AIDS have plummeted to just over 200 a year. Thats about a quarter of the number dying annually in the 1990’s.
She says what health workers are focusing on now is trying to get everyone with HIV on treatment as soon as they are diagnosed. Davis says that suppresses the virus and makes a massive difference for the patient.
“That person is going to live longer, be healthier, they won’t develop AIDS, and they’re at 96% less chance of HIV transmission.”
And she says with HIV patients living longer, it’s opening up new challenges – like caring for elders with the disease.
Davis says in spite of the new challenges, she’s optimistic about the future of the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“It is a local and BC healthcare success story that continues to unfold. But I have no doubt that on World AIDS day 2016, when you and I talk – we’ll have more successes to report.”