We observe this day in the memory and in honour of the many who have lost their young lives to this pandemic.
We observe this day to pay tribute to the many committed and passionate scientists, virologists, activists, mothers, fathers, brothers, sons, sisters, husbands, wives, children, grandparents, uncles, aunts and friends who incessantly and tirelessly for the last 30 years are fighting against and raising awareness about this pandemic.
We observe this day to fight the infinite ignorance of many who see this pandemic as a stigma.
We observe this day to pay tribute to Willy Rozenbaum who thirty years ago came across a mysterious new syndrome that was taking the lives of young people and the best thing he could do was to ask Prof Luc Montagnier for a consultation.
We observe this day to pay tribute to two colleagues of Global Programme on AIDS at the World Health Organization, James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter and their boss Dr Mann who back in August 1987 came up with the idea of observing World AIDS day.
World AIDS day means a lot to me. And this is for a simple reason. I lost a cousin and many friends to this terrible pandemic.
I was angry when I lost them. Angry because at the time, being infected was a death sentence. And this terrible death sentence was not just medical one, it was a social death sentence. And that is what made me furious.
Thirty years later, science has made progress and now those infected have a higher life expectancy - albeit not all over the world.
BUT and there is a big BUT here...... The society has not made much progress. HIV and AIDS is still a stigma and those affected are subject to discrimination.
World AIDS Day message is Getting to Zero. Let's make sure that getting to zero is not just in terms of infection, but also getting to zero in terms of discrimination.