Yesterday, December 1st, was World AIDS Day, an international day designated to further awareness about the AIDS pandemic and evaluate the world’s progress in ending it. Each year international agencies such as WHO (World Health Organization), UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) and other grassroots organizations dedicated to tackle HIV/AIDS also choose themes for the day, and UNAIDS theme for this year was “Global solidarity, Shared responsibility”. Needless to say, this theme is inspired by the experiences of the the current COVID-19 pandemic and this short video statement from the UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima explains it quite well:
Pandemics and Epidemics thrive on and exacerbate the already existing inequalities as we have been seeing during COVID-19 and through our readings. While the nature of the diseases might differ, there is a huge overlap between which groups are most affected, mostly the ones that are are already marginalized. This year, COVID-19 made the HIV/AIDS pandemic even worse by disrupting care and medical supply networks and it affected the populations that were suffering from or highly vulnerable to HIV even more severely. However, the fight against these pandemics cannot be fought by some groups alone and hence a “shared responsibility” is needed.
The differences between the abilities of different countries based on the development of their public health infrastructure also requires “global solidarity” to eradicate the pandemic from the face of the world. Organizations such as UNAIDS recognize COVID-19 as the most immediate threat to furthering the progress against AIDS pandemic and are urging governments and companies from countries that have been able to develop vaccine candidates to waive their IP rights. Only this sort of a global collaboration will make sure that vaccines reach vulnerable populations in countries that do not have the capacity to develop them. Otherwise, the pandemic will create even more inequality across the globe. (A great opinion piece regarding this was published in the gazelle this week as well!)
On a different note, amfAR (American Foundation for AIDS Research) is another organization that has been funding research to end AIDS but is now focusing on COVID-19 as well. Recently, they organized a fundraising film on YouTube for these initiatives: “The Great Work Begins: Scenes from Angels in America”, where as the title suggests, 5 key scenes from the play were re-created. All the filming was done by the actors in isolation, and then put together using computer wizardry. The whole 50 minutes of the film are just amazing and I especially liked the effects and background score that complemented the acting. Even if you have not finished the play, as the title card suggests, you can “let the scenes was over you”. So I am not going to bore you further now and will leave you with the link for the film: