World AIDS Day
What Is World AIDS Day?
World AIDS Day takes place on the 1st December each year. It’s an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.
Why Is World AIDS Day Important?
Over 100,000 people are living with HIV in the UK. Globally, there are an estimated 36.7 million people who have the virus. Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
A primary goal of World AIDS Day activities is the distribution of information. Each country creates and organizes its own agenda for World AIDS Day, and some countries launch weeklong campaigns. In addition, many countries and cities hold ceremonies that serve to commence World AIDS Day activities on international, national, and local levels. For example, in the United States the president delivers an annual proclamation, and in other countries, such as South Africa, Bermuda, and Brunei, ministers of health make annual speeches drawing attention to AIDS concerns. Typical World AIDS Day activities include concerts, rallies, memorials to those who have died from AIDS, discussions, and debates. A major international symbol of World AIDS Day is the red ribbon, worn as a demonstration of commitment to the fight against AIDS. In the United States a symbol commemorating those who have died of AIDS is the AIDS Memorial Quilt, sections of which are displayed in various cities and towns throughout the country on World AIDS Day.
WHO organized World AIDS Day, developing the annual themes and activities, until 1996, when these responsibilities were assumed by UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. In 1997 UNAIDS created the World AIDS Campaign (WAC) to increase AIDS awareness and to integrate AIDS information on a global level.
Today, scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. Despite this, each year in the UK around 6,000 people are diagnosed with HIV, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with the condition.
World AIDS Day is important because it reminds the public and government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.