The AIDS pandemic is very real and is in a way, a silent killer. Unlike diseases which manifest blatant symptoms, the disease does not show overwhelming physical signs at all unless a secondary infection occurs.
The incidence of AIDS world wide is still staggering despite the significant progress made in the last decades by international agencies, research centers, non-governmental organizations, non-profits groups, and country governments.
Tracing the time line of AIDS world wide begins from 1884 and 1924, with the appearance of the HIV, the virus identified as causing AIDS, in Africa. During this period, doctors and scientists had no clue what was going on and why there were strange deaths around the world. In the meantime, African doctors observed a rise in opportunistic infections. In 1986, there were 38,000 HIV cases reported from all over the globe. This number continued to grow and by the end of 2010, an estimated 34 million are living with HIV globally. While this shows a high incidence of the virus, the good news is, the number of people dying from AIDS world wide is going down. In the mid 2000s, there were 2.1 million people dying from AIDS worldwide and in 2010, this figure is down to 1.8 million.
Much of the success of lowering HIV infection and deaths due to AIDS world wide is attributed to the recognition of the problem by governments, civil societies, international and non-governmental organizations. There were extensive education and prevention campaigns to curb the rates of HIV transmission. At the same time, researches to find drugs and cures for the virus had good success rates. There are effective antiretroviral therapies that contain the virus significantly and allow those affected by HIV to live longer and productively.
Country governments no longer deny the potential of the virus and AIDS world wide to wipe out entire populations in a matter of years. This made them committed to educating their citizens on the importance of knowing what HIV and AIDS are, how they are transmitted, and how these could be prevented. Cultural and social barriers are still impediments to preventing transmission. However, societies are more receptive to the need to protect one's self from contracting the disease. Where it was once considered a stigma, people are now open to people living with HIV AIDS.
UNAIDS, the global overseer of AIDS worldwide, has set ambitious targets in the coming years advocating for zero new infection, zero deaths due to AIDS world wide, and zero discrimination. Currently, there are 6.6 million people receiving antiretroviral therapy in low and middle income countries (World Aids Day Report 2011). As more people receive help, the potential is there to halt AIDS world wide. With the assistance and commitment from all stakeholders, namely, governments, aid agencies, and civil society groups, the world might probably achieve these goals as targeted. In all these, the role of citizens should not be overlooked. For it is the people who suffer and who are at the forefront of the dreaded and crippling AIDS world wide. They have the most power to transform themselves and combat HIV and AIDS world wide.