24 November 2009
World AIDS Day, observed on 1st December each year, is an important opportunity for governments, national AIDS programs, faith organizations, community organizations, and individuals around the world to bring attention to the global AIDS epidemic and emphasise the critical need for universal access to essential care.
The global theme for 2009 and 2010 World AIDS Day is "Universal Access and Human Rights" chosen by the World AIDS Campaign.
This theme is intended to encourage deeper understanding, develop partnerships and challenge discriminatory laws, policies and practices that stand in the way of access for all to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.
Responding to the AIDS crisis is a major focus of Caritas Internationalis. Catholic Church agencies such as Caritas provide a quarter of all HIV care in the worst-hit continent of Africa. Caritas works in 107 countries to provide access for all to prevention, treatment, and care. Caritas workers support people with HIV by providing full and accurate information, food, counselling, medicine, employment, education, and by eliminating stigma and exclusion.
Through the HAART for Children campaign Caritas has focused particularly on children who contract HIV – a group largely forgotten in global and national efforts to address the epidemic.
The campaign which asks pharmaceutical companies and governments for a greater commitment to improved access to testing and treatment for children living with HIV and HIV/TB Co-infection has been supported by a number of Edmund Rice Schools around the world.