Photo by Amin Ismail, UNAMID.
On 2 December 2018, UNAMID commemorated World AIDS Day in El Fasher, North Darfur, under this year’s theme: “Know your status.” The event, which was organized by UNAMID’s HIV/AIDS Unit, included a march, candle lighting memorial, drama and cultural performances.
UNAMID peacekeepers, comprising civilian staff as well as the military and police components, participated in the march and observed a minute of silence in memory of those who have lost their lives to AIDS. Additionally, the participants lit candles in a symbolic gesture of solidarity in tribute to people living with HIV and AIDS, as well as their caregivers.
UNAMID Force Commander, Lieutenant-General Leonard Ngondi, read UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s message for the day, in which he stated that stigma and discrimination remained impediments to fighting the epidemic, particularly among key populations.
“There is still time -- to scale-up testing for HIV; to enable more people to access treatment; to increase resources needed to prevent new infections; and to end the stigma. At this critical juncture, we need to take the right turn now,” Mr. Guterres said.
Noting this year’s theme, UNAMID HIV/AIDS Officer, Ms. Nagwa Mohamed Ahmed, emphasized the importance of getting tested for HIV as the first step to HIV prevention and its subsequent eradication.
“One in four people living with HIV do not know their status,” Ms. Mohamed stressed.
According to UNAIDS, by 2017 more than 77 million people across the world had been infected with HIV, and about 35 million had died of AIDS-related illnesses since the disease was first diagnosed 30 years ago. The number of people living with HIV globally is estimated at 36.9 million as of 2017.
Significant progress has been made in the diagnosis and treatment of HIV, while prevention efforts have averted millions of new infections.
World AIDS Day is marked annually on 1 December since 1988. It is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness.