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World AIDS Day 2013 focuses on "zero" | VIDEO

SAN DIEGO -- This year’s global World AIDS Day theme for 2013, “Getting to Zero,” is part of the UNAIDS strategy to reach a world with zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths. Worlds AIDS Day will has been observed each year on Dec. 1 since 1988.

Communities around the globe will be organizing events on Sunday to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS, show support for people living with HIV/AIDS, and to commemorate people who have died. Estimates are that more than 34 million people around the world are living with HIV, and more than 25 million between 1981 and 2007 have died from the virus, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

Events in San Diego County are planned for Hillcrest, UCSD and Carlsbad.

While there have been major advancements in HIV/AIDS treatment since the first cases were reported 32 years ago, there is still no cure for the disease, stigma remains high, and access to medications in some parts of the world is scarce. This is why UNAIDS and several other organizations and leaders have pledged to join in the fight to “get to zero” through a number of goals.

The state of HIV/AIDS around the globe in 2013

UNAIDS has created a fact that gives a picture of where HIV/AIDS is today. While AIDS-related deaths and HIV-infections have fallen over the last decade, new infections still occur every day.

Check out the full fact sheet below.

People living with HIV

In 2012, there were 35.3 million [32.2 million–38.8 million] people living with HIV.
- Since the start of the epidemic around 75 million [63 million–89 million] have become infected with HIV.

New HIV infections

New HIV infections have fallen by 33% since 2001.
- Worldwide, 2.3 million [1.9 million–2.7 million] people became newly infected with HIV in 2012, down from 3.4 million [3.1 million–3.7 million] in 2001.

- New HIV infections among adults and adolescents decreased by 50% or more in 26 countries between 2001 and 2012.

New HIV infections among children have declined by 52% since 2001.
- Worldwide, 260,000 [230,000–320,000] children became newly infected with HIV in 2012, down from 550,000 [500,000–620,000] in 2001.

AIDS-related deaths

AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 30% since the peak in 2005.
- In 2012, 1.6 million [1.4 million–1.9 million] people died from AIDS-related causes worldwide compared to 2.3 million [2.1 million–2.6 million] in 2005.

- Since the start of the epidemic an estimated 36 million [30 million – 42 million] people have died of AIDS-related illnesses.

Antiretroviral therapy

In 2012, around 9.7 million people living with HIV had access to antiretroviral therapy in low- and middle-income countries.
- This represents 61% of people eligible for treatment under the 2010 WHO guidelines; and 34% of people eligible under the 2013 WHO guidelines.

HIV/TB

TB-related deaths in people living with HIV have fallen by 36% since 2004.
- TB remains the leading cause of death among people living with HIV.

Investments

US $18.9 billion was available from all sources for the AIDS response in 2012.
- The estimated annual need by 2015 is currently between US$ 22-24 billion.

In 2012, low- and middle-income countries increased domestic investments for HIV, accounting for 53% of all HIV related spending.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services - through its AIDS.gov website - has also joined in the fight to get to zero. While the department is not using the “Getting to Zero” theme for its World AIDS Day activities this year, the 2013 theme is “Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation.”

AIDS.gov shares numerous resources for organizers to plan a World AIDS Day event, and encourages people across the country to get involved - even if it’s just wearing a red ribbon that day.

The #FacingAIDS Initiative is a social media project spearheaded by AIDS.gov to put faces to AIDS in the hopes of reducing stigma and promoting HIV testing. Participants are encouraged to take a photo of themselves holding a sign that describes how they are “facing AIDS” and post it to social media using the hashtag “#FacingAIDS.”

Photos can also be submitted to AIDS.gov to be included in an online photo gallery.

#ZeroDiscrimination

Another social media campaign this year is the #ZeroDiscrimination campaign, which features Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. The project aims to get people to speak out for the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS to lead full and productive lives with dignity.

The campaign includes a number of materials, including posters, buttons and stickers that say “Open Up and Reach Out” and have the “#ZeroDiscrimination” hashtag.

More information about the #ZeroDiscrimination campaign is HERE.


Events

In Hilllcrest on Sunday, Dec. 1, community members will gather to observe World AIDS Day at two events. The annual Dr. A. Brad Truax Awards Ceremony will be held at the San Diego LGBT Community Center at 3:30 pm. The free event honors individual who made outstanding to the struggle against the HIV/AIDS epidemic locally. Following the ceremony, participants will take a candle-lit walk to the Village Hillcrest Plaza for the annual Tree of Life event.

Mama's Kitchen's Tree of Life ceremony has become a tradition not to miss for many in the community. The 5 pm event will include guest speakers, music by the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus, a candlelight vigil, and the lighting of the holiday tree at the Village Hillcrest Plaza, located at 3955 Fifth Ave. The touching ceremony is free, and brings the local community together to remember those who have been lost to HIV/AIDS. More information is HERE.

In North County, community members are invited on Sunday to Pilgrim Church, located at 2020 Chestnut Ave. in Carlsbad. The 6 pm event will include free HIV testing, a speaker, music, a candlelight vigil, and dinner. More information is HERE.

At UCSD, a week of events, including a viewing of a portion of the AIDS quilt, will be held beginning Monday, Dec. 2. The AIDS Memorial Quilt will be available for viewing all day Monday, a number of other events are planned for the campus, including a wall of remembrance, survivors exhibits, a "lunch and learn," and more.

More information about World AIDS Day activities at UCSD is HERE.

Hundreds of other events will be taking place across the country and around the globe this weekend in observance of World AIDS Day. For events happening in the United States, visit AIDS.gov. Global events can be found on the UNAIDS website.