World AIDS Day is celebrated around the world on December 1 of each year. This date has become one of the most recognized international days and a key opportunity to combine efforts and create awareness of what HIV/AIDS is and demonstrate international solidarity against this epidemic.
The population most vulnerable to HIV infection, including injecting drug users, sex workers, men who have sex with men and transgender people, are also people who have less access to prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS such as the population affected by a disaster.
HIV/AIDS in emergencies
In emergency situations it is necessary to act promptly in order to contribute to the prevention of transmission of this disease and ensure the continuity of antiretroviral therapy (ART) for people living with HIV/AIDS.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) works in close coordination with the ministries of health in the promotion of protective measures to inform people that the risk of sexually transmitted infections increases during an emergency. PAHO/WHO also supports the actions of the countries related with the purchase and distribution of medicines and materials, with particular emphasis on prenatal care and delivery of pregnant women with HIV/AIDS.
These measures, together with others such as trained health staff in shelters, ensuring safe blood supply and provide educational materials related to sexual reproductive health, help to reduce the number of new infections and ensure access to health services to people living with HIV/AIDS and affected by an emergency.
Among all institutions, governments, communities and individuals can strengthen the activities related with prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS especially in emergency situations and, therefore, the Area on Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief of PAHO/WHO joins in the global celebration of this date in a year that recalls 30 years of the epidemic.
For more information:
Guidelines for HIV/AIDS interventions in emergency settings (IASC)
Code of Good Practices for NGOs Responding to HIV/AID (in Spanish)
Guidelines IASC Mental Health in emergencies
UNAIDS Executive Director Message (in Spanish)
Picture from PAHO/WHO Guatemala