What’s your status? Ten facts to mark the 30th World AIDS Day

A woman walks by the Pyramid of Cestius is illuminated in red for the World AIDS Day, in Rome, on Friday, Nov. 30 2018. (AP)
Updated 01 December 2018
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What’s your status? Ten facts to mark the 30th World AIDS Day

  • The first cases of AIDS are reported among gay men in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York
  • The disease is found in several European countries, including Britain and France

LONDON: The global campaign to end AIDS has made significant strides but the epidemic remains one of the world’s leading public health challenges, affecting almost 37 million people.
Campaigners say one of the biggest challenges in the fight to end AIDS is encouraging people to get tested and making them aware of treatment and prevention services.
The theme of the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day, which shows support for people living with HIV and commemorates those who have died, is “Know your Status.”
Here are 10 facts about HIV/AIDS.

- About 35 million people have died from AIDS- or HIV-related illnesses since 1981, including 940,000 in 2017.
- Increased awareness and access to antiretroviral drugs have more than halved the number of AIDS-related deaths since 2004.
- An estimated 77 million people have become infected with HIV since the start of the epidemic in 1981, including 1.8 million in 2017.
- Every week, almost 7,000 young women aged between 15 and 24 are infected with HIV.
- In sub-Saharan Africa young women are twice as likely to be living with HIV than men.
- South Africa has the world’s highest HIV prevalence, with almost one in five people infected.
- One in four people, about 9 million, are unaware that they are HIV-positive.
- UNAIDS wants nine in 10 people to know their status by 2020.
- Almost 22 million people were accessing antiretroviral drugs in 2017, compared with 8 million in 2010.
- Eight out of 10 pregnant women living with HIV received treatment in 2017, compared with less than half in 2010. Sources: UNAIDS, World Health Organization, Avert, HIV.gov


US Senator Graham urges Trump to meet Pakistan PM Khan

Updated 20 January 2019
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US Senator Graham urges Trump to meet Pakistan PM Khan

  • US and Pakistan should have “strategic engagement”, not transactional relationship
  • The American senator sees a “unique opportunity” to change diplomatic direction of US-Pakistan ties

ISLAMABAD:  US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said on Sunday President Donald Trump should meet Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan as soon as possible to reset long-difficult US relations with Pakistan and push for a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan.

The comments, which add to growing signs of improved relations between Islamabad and Washington, come amid efforts to press on with talks between the Taliban and the United States aimed at an agreement to end 17 years of war in Afghanistan.

"I've seen things change here and all in a positive direction," Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who has generally been a staunch supporter of Trump, told a news conference in Islamabad.

He said a meeting with Khan, who has declared strong support for a peace agreement in Afghanistan, would leave Trump "far more enthusiastic about the region than he is today".

"With Prime Minister Khan we have a unique opportunity to change our relationship," he said. A previously transactional relationship, based on rewards for services rendered, should be replaced by "strategic engagement", including a free trade agreement, he said.

US relations with Pakistan have long been dogged by suspicions that elements in the Pakistani establishment were aiding the Taliban, a charge Islamabad strongly denies. However, relations have appeared to improve in recent months amid efforts to push the Taliban towards a peace deal.

Trump, who has in the past argued for the United States to withdraw from Afghanistan, has made it clear he wants to see a peace accord reached rapidly although the Taliban have so far refused to talk directly with the Afghan government.

Graham's trip to Pakistan coincided with a visit by Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, and top military commanders including General Joseph Votel, commander of US Central Command.

Khalilzad left Islamabad without announcing a new date for talks with Taliban representatives, who have refused further meetings until the US side agrees to discuss a timetable for withdrawing its forces.

The uncertainty has been increased by reports that Trump is prepared to order more than 5,000 US troops out of Afghanistan, a move that would represent a sharp change in course from Washington's previous policy of stepping up military action against the Taliban.

With Afghan forces suffering thousands of casualties a year and struggling to hold back the Taliban insurgency, the reports have caused alarm in Kabul, prompting many close to the government to question the US commitment to Afghanistan.

Asked whether there had been confusion over the US message, Graham, who has called for a Senate hearing on Trump's plans to withdraw US troops from Syria and Afghanistan, said "without a doubt" but added that he did not believe Washington would stand by and allow a Taliban victory.

"The world's not going to let the Taliban take Afghanistan over by force of arms. That would be unconscionable," he told Reuters. "Any president who let that happen would go down in history very poorly."