International AIDS Memorial Day 2009 is on the 17th of May this year.  It is our opportunity to remember the 12,000 people who have dies from HIV/AIDS in Malaysia.  It is also a good opportunity for us to show support and encouragement for those living with HIV and the communities most affected by HIV.

HIV is threatening many like never before. Globally, children under 15 account for 1 in 6 AIDS-related deaths and 1 in 7 new global HIV infections. A child under 15 dies of an AIDS-related illness every minute of every day, a young person aged 15 to 24 gets infected with HIV every 15 seconds while 15 million children are already orphaned by AIDS.

More than twenty years into the AIDS epidemic and HIV/AIDS shows no signs of weakening its grip on human society. The number of children, adolescents and young people in the path of the pandemic and at risk and in need of protection continues to rise daily.

AIDS is depriving many of their human rights – of the care, love and affection of their parents; of their teachers and other role models; of education and options for the future; and of protection against exploitation and abuse.

In Malaysia, new HIV infections are doubling every three years with an average of 17 people testing HIV-positive daily. Of the 84,630 people already infected in Malaysia as of December 2008, almost forty (40) per cent occur in young people below the age of 29. Perhaps the biggest challenge that is facing Malaysia is that people are still largely unaware about the disease, resulting in high-risk behaviours, stigma and discrimination.

This year the theme of International AIDS Memorial Day is “Together, We Are The Solution”. This reflects the facts that we all have a personal responsibility to combat HIV/AIDS and it is only by working together that we will be successful.

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