(Vatican Radio) Since the beginning of the AIDs epidemic in the 1980’s, almost 78 million people have been infected with the HIV virus and about 39 million have died. By the end of 2013 35 million people globally were living with HIV.
To mark World Aids Day which is observed annually on December 1st, the Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UN AIDS) Michel Sidibé said by working together the international community can end the epidemic by 2030.
“I want to say to the world that it's time for us to redouble our effort, to fast track our actions, to make sure that we quicken the pace. Together I am sure we can end AIDS epidemic by 2030.”
The theme for World Aids Day 2014 is “closing the Gap” which has been chosen to highlight the power of social change to ensure that all people everywhere, can access the services they need.
This year Caritas Internationalis, taking its cue from the words of Pope Francis “Every person is worth of our giving” says it’s important to reach out to those affected by the virus and treat them with dignity.
Listen to Lydia O'Kane's interview with Monsignor Robert Vitillo, Caritas Internationalis Special Advisor on HIV/AIDS
Monsignor Robert Vitillo, is the Caritas Special Advisor on HIV/AIDS, he said “so many times the international community focuses only on the technological means to respond to this epidemic but unless we really look at the whole person and we reach out to that person and treat them with dignity…then I think we will constantly have this struggle to respond appropriately and effectively to HIV and AIDS.”
Speaking about the stigma and discrimination attached to the virus, Monsignor Vitillo said that regrettably it still remains and it can mean that people will be hesitant to seek treatment.