opinionBy Uzodinma Iweala
The HIV and Aids epidemic looks very different to how it did on the first World Aids Day 24 years ago. Today, the number of Aids-related deaths is dropping, as is the global incidence of new infections.
Additionally, the number of people receiving treatment has increased dramatically and is still rising. Drugs that were experimental on the first World Aids Day are now standard.
Many of these drugs are now available in cheaper generic forms that make them more affordable for people in low-income countries.
Indeed, on this year's World Aids Day on 1 December, it is hard to believe that there was ever an argument about whether pharmaceutical companies should privilege their patent-secured profits over the lives of millions needing treatment. A lot has happened.
The hysteria of the early 1980s that accompanied the western world's introduction to the epidemic has long since subsided.
The denial with which many African leaders and communities greeted the appearance of HIV and Aids across the continent in the 1990s is now considered a tragic mistake rather than a purposeful pushback against lingering colonial prejudice.
We are not living in the same world we were immediately after the cold war, when there seemed to be a greater belief in the universality of human rights and there was enough prosperity to make us question why we had not committed more resources to upholding the values we claimed to hold most dear.
This was the world that allowed us to consider HIV and Aids a global issue requiring all the efforts of a global community to bring its end.
Today, though, it seems that the world, and our interests, are becoming more fragmented. This is especially true as increasing financial uncertainty makes communities less likely to spend money on problems that appear geographically and temporally distant.
We are entering an era of increased competition in which our desires continue to struggle against our basic needs, in which our basic needs must compete with diminishing resources to meet them.
This is especially true now as many donor countries that have traditionally supported efforts to combat the HIV and Aids epidemic face tighter budgets and must either cut back or reprioritise their international commitments.
Now more than ever before, the effort to sustain the incredible progress in reducing the global Aids burden faces the twin threats of reduced resources and a decreasing community ethos.
In Nigeria, where I live, the activist communities that made HIV and Aids a priority earlier this century are aware of this and are adapting to put pressure on the government to maintain and improve its response to the epidemic here.
While there is a general commitment to maintaining the positive trend in Nigeria's efforts, in a country full of competing priorities, each one of equal importance, it can be hard to capture the attention of both those in power and the general population.
In such a situation, it is tempting to resort to some of the alarmist rhetoric that characterised the early global response in order to be heard.
The truth is that the epidemic is still a major crisis, but it is important that in our efforts to maintain the necessary focus on reducing its impact, we don't scare people with messages of suffering and death, but emphasise the steady progress we have made against the virus.
In countries most affected by the epidemic and indeed the wider world, we must not only keep people informed of the massive challenges but stress how sustained effort in certain communities has saved lives, reduced the rate of mother-to-child transmission of the virus and resulted in fewer new infections.
The issue is how we in our communities, both local and global, find the right tone and narrative to frame the success and challenges we face as we try to make this epidemic history.
Uzodinma Iweala is a medical doctor and author of the novel Beasts of No Nation and of Our Kind of People, a book about HIV/Aids in Nigeria.