World Aids Day is celebrated on 1st December across the globe. Facilitated by the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), World Aids Day aims to raise awareness of the pandemic, commemorate those who have passed on and celebrate victories, such as improved access to treatments and scientific breakthroughs. Around the world, campaigners will stage marches, events, conferences, faith-based services and other activities to mark the day and to highlight this year’s theme, Lights for Rights, and its central tenet – human rights.

Says UNAIDS, significant progress has been made in advancing access to HIV prevention, treatment, support and care over the past ten years, but focusing on human rights is crucial to further progress. The 2010 Global Update on the AIDS Epidemic by the UNAIDS shows that in 2009 the pace of new infections had declined by almost 20% compared to 1999, but still outpaces treatment success by two to one. There are still major gaps in the implementation of human rights commitments at national and regional levels according to the report. For many people living with HIV – and the people most affected by it – human rights can help to guarantee access to health services, work, education and community participation.

In Africa, 1000 babies a day are still infected with HIV/AIDS, mainly though mother-to-child transmission. In a mark of solidarity for and commitment to the Lights for Rights campaign, the City of Cape Town will be taking the lead in South Africa’s commemoration of World Aids Day this evening, when Table Mountain is bathed in red light.

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