More than 30 million men, women and children have lost their lives to HIV and AIDS by now – most in the poorest corners of our world. Since 1987, Caritas Internationalis has taken a lead role in promoting just and compassionate care to people living with, or affected by the virus. More than a quarter of a century on, there is now some good news – deaths have fallen by 30% and more people than ever before have access to medicines.
But worrying new trends are emerging. The World Health Organization has found that AIDS-related deaths rose by 50% amongst 10 to 19-year olds between 2005 and 2012. More are girls than boys due to their lower social status in some countries. The young people who have died usually did not receive antiretroviral treatment when they were young but managed to survive into adolescence. Others have fallen victim to governments’ failures to focus on preventing teenagers from contracting HIV and to provide teen-friendly testing and counseling. The battle against HIV/AIDS is far from over.
“The love, care and the treatment I got from them has kept me going; in fact I owe my life to the religious workers who gave me rebirth. I was scared of death but now I am not.” (HIV infected man in India.)