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HIV/AIDS and Inequalities

 

HIV/AIDS and Inequalities

By Oladosu Adenike



According to the Aristotle; “the worst form of inequality is try to make unequal things equal.” Since the first discovery of HIV/AIDS for decades ago, it has exacerbated the scale of inequalities round the world. HIV/AIDS remains a major public health issue that affects millions of people worldwide. Consequently, world AIDS Day is one of the eleven official global public health campaign marked by World Health Organization (WHO). Designated on 1st December every year since 1988 as a day to raising awareness of AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of the virus and its socio-economic effects on communities. The theme of World AIDS Day 2021 is “End inequalities, End AIDS.” With a specific focus on communities left behind in the global spread of the virus and highlighting the need for a common” global fight against its spread.

Division, disregard and disrespect for human right and individual responsibilities are among the reasons that allowed HIV to become and remain a global health crisis. Unfortunately, with the outbreak of COVID-19 there is a systemic disruption of health services especially among developing and under developed countries thereby exacerbating inequality. This among others is making lives of many people living with HIV more challenging. To this end, United Nations is calling on global leaders and prominent citizens of the world to rally to confront the inequalities that drive AIDS and to reach people who are not receiving essential HIV services. According to the great American civil right movement leader, Rev Dr Martin Luther King; “of all form of inequality, injustice in the healthcare is the most shocking and inhuman.” The inequality in service delivery is quiet evident between countries especially as seen in Africa. As of 2017, AIDS has killed between 28.9 million and 41.5million people worldwide and an estimated 36.7 million people are living with HIV, making it one of the most important global public health issues in recorded history.

However, during the lockdown, reports of intimate partner violence, child and forced marriage, female genital mutation and other forms of gender violence have increase. For women and girls living with HIV, the risks of violence multiply, including for their immediate family and community. Among others, sexual violence has served as a debate in the fight against HIV/AIDS – thereby increasing the public crises. In countries with high HIV prevalence, intimate partner violence can increase the chances of women acquiring HIV by up to 50%. This has blocked women’s access to service in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS. This include female sex workers, women who use drugs and bisexual and transgender people face exceptional high risks of both HIV and gender based violence and sexual assault fuelled by HIV-related stigma.

Conclusion:

In the fight against one of the global health crises, WHO is calling on world citizens, what is your contribution in the fight against inequality in your community? Like Nelson Mandela opined; “as long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.” I will fight inequality so my generation can rest!

Oladosu Adenike ([email protected])

 

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