We have come a long way in the fight against HIV/AIDS: worldwide, the number of people who are newly infected with HIV has dropped by 38% since 2001. Globally there were still 2.1 million new infections last year alone, and 22 million people living with HIV are still not able to access lifesaving treatment. We must prioritize prevention and treatment – we can and must do better!
This World AIDS Day, we highlight the goal of achieving an AIDS-free generation and vision for the future. In the United States, HIV infection rates currently remain high. More than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and almost 1 in 6 (15.8%) are unaware of their status. Women, people of color, LGBT communities, and young people remain at the center of the HIV epidemic in terms of rates of infection, vulnerability, impact, and potential for change.
The numbers can seem very daunting, but an AIDS-free generation is possible. In the U.S., Planned Parenthood health centers provide non-judgmental, comprehensive, high-quality reproductive health care services, including rapid HIV testing, to women, men, and young people that are critical in fighting the epidemic.
Planned Parenthood Global works with local partners around the world to increase access to reproductive health care and advance reproductive rights, from Nicaragua to Kenya to Ecuador to Uganda. Through global youth fellowships and collaboration with Planned Parenthood Generation Action, Planned Parenthood Global continues to forge connections between young leaders in the U.S. and around the world.
In addition to health services, we need strong leadership at home and abroad to achieve our vision for the world we want, which includes expanding access to HIV/AIDS services in addition to family planning and reproductive health care. U.S. policy should advance the full range of sexual and reproductive health and rights — including HIV/AIDs prevention, treatment and care, family planning and reproductive health and work toward stronger integration across these domestic and global health programs.
We need strong health systems, committed political leadership, and sound policies for a strong future. To achieve our vision for the world we want — a world with zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths, and zero discrimination, and a world in which those living with HIV are able to make decisions about their health and lives — we must also do everything in our power to support the development of healthy young people, to help create the healthiest generation ever.
Critical to prevention is education – medically accurate age-appropriate sexual health education in California is something we can focus on improving, to educate and empower California youth. Learn about the Public Schools Project and efforts in California to review and improve education here. Join our email list to stay informed and find out how you can help with efforts next year to move forward on this and other critical issues impacting reproductive health.
Together, we can move closer to the #WorldWeWant!