December 1st is the International AIDS Day. It is always a question of raising awareness about the epidemic, of providing support to those living with the disease. Global solidarity and shared responsibility are the themes in 2020.
The virus VIH, affects thousands of people all over the world. This disease that affects the human immune system is no longer an unknown. Discovered in 1981, it spreads rapidly, and becomes a health problem on a global scale in the 1980s. In 2002, AIDS was declared a global pandemic.
So much so that the epidemic has experienced a certain decline from 2007, it is still very present in our lives. According to The Organization of United Nations (UN), for the year 2019, 38 million people are living with HIV, and 25.4 million people had access to antiretroviral therapy. 1.7 million people have become newly infected with HIV. 690,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses last year.
Prevention, Prevention, Prevention
Today, we know rather well the mechanisms of the transmission of the virus, it was not always so. In addition to rigorous scientific research, it was also necessary to involve the population. The overseas territories, strongly affected by the epidemic, remain areas where the disease is still very active. From the end of the 1980s, prevention and information campaigns continued, especially aimed at young people.
Watch this report from RFO Martinique, February 17, 1989, at the College of Gros-Morne:
Inequalities in access to treatment
In France, major prevention and screening campaigns were organized from the start of the 1990s. However, the epidemic was not experienced in the same way everywhere and access to treatment created global disparities. The treatments available in rich countries are little or not marketed, or distributed on other continents. Associations, at the forefront from the start of the epidemic, are pushing political will to stabilize drug prices, to allow countries whose health systems have fewer resources to also offer treatment to patients.
Twenty years with the disease
The treatments have continued to evolve, to refine. Some people with AIDS have lived with the disease for twenty years or more. They lived with the idea of certain and near death, only to see this ax finally recede in the course of scientific research.
“These are dreams that I could no longer realize. Death is guaranteed in six, months, a year …”, explains Serge, who lives in Reunion. He is HIV positive and has seen his life change thanks to treatment.
Watch this report produced by Laurent Pirotte and Vanessa Philogène (Réunion la 1ère), during World AIDS Day 2019.