Ending AIDS means controlling the spread of HIV and lessening its impact on people's lives, the Joint UN Programme fighting the epidemic (UNAIDS) has said, noting that the number of people on anti-retroviral treatment today has surpassed the number of new infections each year, and more countries are reporting that zero mother-to-child transmission of HIV is in sight.
But in the latest episode of the UN Radio podcast series The Lid is On, newly-appointed UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador Kenneth Cole says that if “there isn't a continuation of this initiative, we will see that reverse.”
Rather than see an end of AIDS by 2030, “we could see AIDS back to its historical level of devastation,” he emphasized.
A world renowned, New York-based fashion designer and businessman, Mr. Cole has been an influential voice in the global response to AIDS for more than 30 years. He has also been Chair of the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) since 2005.
The podcast features another long-time AIDS campaigner and activist, singer and songwriter Annie Lennox, who has been a UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador since 2010.
Drawing on her own experience growing up in Burundi, UN Radio producer Jocelyne Sambira – who presents the podcast – said AIDS “was a death sentence when I was growing up.”
To highlight the realities of living with HIV/AIDS in Africa today, she interviews Loyce Mataru of Zimbabwe, who had just lost her mother and son to the virus, when she found out she herself was HIV positive.
She is now living a full and healthy life, and having once tried to commit suicide because of her status, she talks movingly about the stigma of living with HIV.