(Vatican Radio) World AIDS Day is held on the 1st December each year and is an opportunity for people throughout the world to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with the disease and to commemorate people who have died.
World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day, held for the first time in 1988.
Fr Bob Vitillo works for Caritas Internationalis as both Head of Delegation to the United Nations in Geneva and Special Advisor on HIV/AIDS and Health. He spoke to Bramble Badenach-Nicolson about his work and the UN's aims to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
Listen to the full interview with Fr. Bob Vitillo:
Speaking about the UN’s Fast-Track strategy (Ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030), Fr Vitillo said it was an important aim and one “I certainly hope we will be able to accomplish”.
It is a “strategic plan… I was involved in the early consultations”, he said. Fr Vitillo explained how there are 25 countries where the greatest number of new infections are occurring; the UN has therefore tried to be more strategic in their provision of resources, whether that be directly or through intermediaries.
They hope to eliminate AIDS by educating people about the spread of the HIV virus, by providing early diagnoses and by keeping those already infected as healthy as possible.
In his message on World AIDS Day, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon,said "The window of opportunity to act is closing. This is why I am calling for a Fast-Track approach to front-load investments and close the gap between needs and services. To break the epidemic and prevent it from rebounding, we must act on all fronts".
Globally there are an estimated 34 million people who have the virus. Despite it only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.