It’s well past time to establish a sense of context for some of the more conspicuously reported goings on of recent days.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has just released its annual World Disasters Report. Read it here. They do this every year, most often wrapping a series of unfortunate events. This time the report focuses in great and sobering detail on just one.
According to UNAIDS, almost seven thousand people contract HIV every day — and without a major change in the epidemic’s trajectory, AIDS will claim millions more lives. Since 1981, more than 25 million people have died of AIDS, and some 33 million are currently living with HIV.
HIV is a disaster on many levels. In the most affected countries in sub-Saharan Africa, where prevalence rates reach 20 per cent, development gains are reversed and life expectancy halved. For marginalized groups across the world — injecting drug users, sex workers and men who have sex with men – rates are on the increase. Yet they often face stigma, criminalization and little, if any, access to prevention and treatment services. Disasters, man-made and “natural”, disrupt basic services, exacerbate other drivers of the epidemic, and can increase people’s vulnerability to HIV infection. People living with HIV are among the groups most vulnerable in disaster and crisis situations. But, at the same time, they have much to offer and their fuller participation is crucial to tackling the epidemic.
“This year’s World Disasters Report is the first to focus on one condition and with good reason. For sub-Saharan African societies that are torn apart by HIV and for numerous marginalized groups worldwide, who are left to cope with death, disease and destitution, HIV is undoubtedly a disaster,” said International Federation Secretary General Markku Niskala.
“The humanitarian community must rise to the challenge of HIV, especially in the context of the further challenges thrown up by climate change, migration, and the culture of violence that is prevalent in many societies.”
We’ll be back when we get a line on this from Gordon Ramsay or Chopper Read.