World AIDS Day

Johnny is raising three young sons in the settlement of Wanigela, a Port Moresby shantytown. His wife, Vavien, died from AIDS in 2007. She didn't want to go to hospital and faded away in a grimy shack on Koki Bay.

Johnny and Vavien had continued having unprotected sex, despite knowing her condition. She became pregnant and now Johnny's youngest son, Aaron, 3, is HIV-positive. Aaron gets sick, often. He takes a prophylactic drug called Septrin that keeps opportunistic illnesses at bay.

As for Johnny, he doesn't know whether he's HIV-positive or not. He's never had a test and says he doesn't want one. (true story from Papua New Guinea)



21 years on – World AIDS Day 2009

In trying to promote public dialogue on HIV-related issues, the World Health Organization declared 1 December World AIDS Day. The day is dedicated to efforts to control the spread of HIV, remembrance for those who have died from AIDS-related infections and emphasis on recommitting efforts and resources needed to curb the further spread of the virus.

World AIDS Day is now observed by millions of people in more than 190 countries around the globe.



Theme for World AIDS Day 2009

The Global Theme for World AIDS Day 2009 is Universal Access and Human Rights, this has been further segmented to ‘I am...’



Why ‘I am...’

The first reported case of HIV in the Pacific was in 1984. Ever since then, the numbers have continued to grow in some countries, with Papua New Guinea (PNG) experiencing a generalised epidemic. Outside of PNG, the number of people living with HIV in most Pacific countries and territories is relatively small. However, second generation surveillance conducted in at least six countries has identified associated risk factors as well as high rates of sexually transmitted infections.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), with regional partner agencies, has stepped up its response in the last six years by adopting a coordinated approach to better address the potential threat of HIV to island countries and territories. After 20 years, the Pacific is now in a position to celebrate what we have achieved and learn from things that haven’t worked or could have been done better. The Pacific theme ‘I am me...’ takes a personalised approach to shift the responsibility to each of us, as people of the Pacific. As we prepare for World AIDS Day, the question we must ask ourselves is ‘What am I doing about it?’ Asking this question should challenge individuals to take action and begin addressing deeply entrenched beliefs and practices that push people further to the margins. ‘I am me...’ also reminds us of our dignity and the need to protect our Pacific values, which will help us reduce the risks of HIV and embrace the needs of people living with HIV and AIDS.