I have learned to hate an inanimate thing. Today, according to UNAIDS, more than 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS; 70 million have contracted it since 1980. Five million adults and children worldwide became infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, in 2003 alone. I have only met a handful of those who have died or who are living with AIDS but many were close friends and valued colleagues. For me, the fight against AIDS is a personal one to stop their suffering from becoming part of life for generations to come. What is numbing is that the numbers of new infections grow year after year. It is estimated that 100 million people worldwide will be infected by HIV by 2025.
On this World AIDS Day, I do see hope. It is on the horizon, not the doorstep, but the light from it is visible.
This was a year of significant milestones in efforts to develop a vaccine. Most scientists believe that accelerating the development of a preventive vaccine — one that would prevent people uninfected with HIV/AIDS from contracting the disease — is our only hope for ending this epidemic. You and I will not live to see a world without AIDS but our children might.