WASHINGTON, D.C. - The theme for World Aids Day 2017 on December 1 will be “Increasing Impact through
Transparency, Accountability, and Partnerships.”
In elaborating on the theme Ambassador Deborah
L. Birx, the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and U.S. Special Representative
for Global Health Diplomacy at the U.S. Department of State, said, "We now have the
unprecedented opportunity to change the course of the pandemic. This brings
with it the obligation to ensure that our resources are being used in the most
efficient and effective ways and are having the greatest possible impact.
Accountability and transparency are essential aspects of this.”
The National Association of Social Workers
(NASW) agrees with the sentiments of the World AIDS Day theme. We particularly find
the theme’s emphasis on the term partnerships to be appealing and in line
with social work values.
Since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, NASW has
embraced its responsibility of being a partner with governmental and
non-governmental organizations in achieving the goal of eradicating HIV/AIDS
We give recognition to World AIDS Day-2017 by committing to continue
working to prevent new HIV infections by increasing awareness of HIV risks,
eliminating racial and socio-economic disparities in risk of and in early detection
of HIV infections.
For social workers worldwide, World AIDS Day provides the
opportunity to remember that HIV/AIDS continues to be a pandemic that threatens
people here in the United States and globally.
Here in the United States, we should be
reminded that AIDS-related deaths have significantly decreased
since the beginning of the pandemic. Much of the increase in life expectancy
for persons living with AIDS can be a attributed to advances in viral suppression medications using Highly
Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) treatment protocols.
For example, between
2010 and 2013 the death rate for persons living with
AIDS dropped by almost to 30 percent.
However, we must not let our guard down. There are still challenges
confronting us. There continues to be a need for HIV prevention, testing, and
early treatment intervention that targets racial, ethnic and socio-economic groups that are at high risk for HIV infection.
For example, African
Americans and Hispanics/Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV. Though African
Americans represented 12 percent of the population, they account for 45 percent (17,670) of HIV diagnoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Similarly, Hispanics/Latinos
represent 18 percent of the US population, but accounted for 24 percent (9,290) of HIV
diagnoses during that period.
we look at modes of HIV transmission, gay
and bisexual men are most affected by HIV. Again, using 2015 data, gay
and bisexual men accounted for 67 percent (26,376) of all HIV diagnoses - and 82 percent of
diagnoses among males. Of that number, African American gay and bisexual men had
the largest number of HIV diagnoses (10,315) followed by white (7,570) and
Hispanic/Latino (7,013) gay and bisexual men.
is also troubling that there is an emerging threat of increased HIV infections
because of the current opioid crisis. According to
Politico, “The next HIV epidemic in America is likely brewing in
rural areas suffering under the nationwide opioid crisis, with many of the
highest risk communities in deep red states that voted for President Donald
Public health officials express similar fears that the opioid health
emergency could lead to a new HIV crisis. Users of opioids such as heroin
sometimes inject the drug and share HIV-infected needles. It was the sharing of needles that led to an
unprecedented HIV outbreakin rural Indiana in 2015.
Globally, the social work professional must
continue to be outspoken and proactive in working to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
We must insist on international public health policies that promote worldwide
awareness of HIV risks; implements population-specific HIV prevention programs,
makes available early medical intervention and immediate access to HIV
prophylactics and HAART medication regimes.
Looking Ahead to World AIDS Day 2017
Federal Response to HIV
Get Involved on World AIDS Day
Selected NASW Resources:
Social Work Practice: Engaging Individuals, Community, and Systems in Support of of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy
HIV/AIDS information from NASW's Help Starts Here consumer website
NASW Standards for Social Work Practice in Health Care Settings