2014 Press Releases

HomeAboutNewsroomPress ReleasesPress Releases from the ATS2014 Press Releases ▶ The Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) Highlights Need for Continued International Efforts to Fight Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) on World AIDS Day
The Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) Highlights Need for Continued International Efforts to Fight Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) on World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day, held annually on the first day of December  each year since 1988, is an opportunity for people around the world to join in  the fight, show their support for those living with human immunodeficiency  virus (HIV), and commemorate the lives of those who have died.  The Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), an  organization comprised of the world’s leading international respiratory  societies working together to improve lung health globally, supports these  efforts through research, patient care and advocacy.

Although  many important advances have been made in the understanding and treatment of  HIV, World AIDS Day serves as an important reminder of the continuing worldwide  toll of this disease.  The World Health  Organization estimates that HIV caused 1.5 million deaths  globally in 2013, with 35 million people infected overall and 2.1 million newly infected in 2013.

The lungs are commonly involved in AIDS, leading to significant  morbidity and mortality worldwide.  Pulmonary  manifestations of AIDS may include tuberculosis  (TB), Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia  (PCP), bacterial pneumonia, and pulmonary Kaposi sarcoma.  Globally, AIDS has lead to a resurgence of TB  in many low- and middle-income countries, and TB is the leading cause of death  among people living with HIV. Pneumocystis pneumonia is another frequent  of death in AIDS patients.  Recent  evidence suggests that HIV infection may be a risk factor for both COPD and  pulmonary hypertension.

“Our understanding of AIDS and AIDS-related illnesses  has greatly advanced over the past three decades, and has made it possible to  envision a future without any deaths from AIDS.   Sadly, the fight is far from over,” said ATS president Tom Ferkol, MD. “While much progress has been made, the ongoing battle  against AIDS will require sustained efforts from both public and private  organizations and individuals.”

The members of FIRS call on governments, health care  programs, clinicians, public health specialists and non-government  organizations to strengthen their responses to the global burden of HIV  infection and AIDS by:

  • Increasing awareness of the continuing global threat of HIV-related disease;
  • Improving  the health outcomes of people living with HIV through patient care and  research;
  • Adequately funding research into improved treatments and treatment strategies;
  • Reducing  the incidence and severity of HIV-related disease by strengthening mother-to-child transmission prevention programs and increasing  the early use of antiretroviral therapy;
  • Improving HIV education in at-risk communities to reduce the incidence of new HIV infections; and
  • Reducing HIV-related health disparities and inequities.

These efforts will build on the progress that has been made in reducing the death and  morbidity caused by this devastating disease. 


About the Forum of International  Respiratory Societies (FIRS)
The Forum of  International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) is an organization comprised of the  world’s leading international respiratory societies working together to improve  lung health globally: American Thoracic Society (ATS), American College of  Chest Physicians (ACCP), Asociación Latinoamericana De  Tórax (ALAT), Asian Pacific  Society of Respirology (APSR), European Respiratory Society (ERS),  International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases (The Union) and the  Pan African Thoracic Society (PATS). The goal of FIRS is to unify and enhance  efforts to improve lung health through the combined work of its more than  70,000 members globally.