World AIDS Day is celebrated every 1st of December each year all around the world. This international day of celebration aims to raise awareness about the Acquired Immunodeficiency Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
Even though the treatment of HIV infection is becoming more and more progressive, the rate at which more people acquire the virus is increasing at an alarming rate. Hence, people should be made aware of how they can prevent themselves from acquiring and spreading the infection, which is a major focus of this day. In addition, the day also aims to spread the facts about HIV and AIDS so that the misconceptions about them will be eliminated from the minds of the people.
Why do we celebrate World AIDS Day?
World AIDS Day is just one of the eight official global public health campaigns spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO). The other seven include the World Blood Donor Day, World Health Day, World Tuberculosis Day, World Immunization Week, World Malaria Day, World No Tobacco Day, and World Hepatitis Day.
As of the year 2017, the number of people who died due to AIDS ranges between 28.9 million and 41.5 million. The estimated number of people currently living with HIV is 36.7 million. Hence, this has become a global concern – also one that has become the most important in world history. Fortunately, thanks to antiretroviral treatments, the death rate due to HIV has decreased since 2005 where it peaked at 1.9 million.
The global celebration of World AIDS Day is spearheaded by the WHO each year. However, many organizations and government agencies also participate in the event. Even schools, academies, and colleges also join. They all want to raise awareness about the disease.
What does the red ribbon Symbolise for World AIDS Day?
The universal symbol of World AIDS Day is the red ribbon which is also the main symbol for HIV and AIDS. People wear a red ribbon during this day to raise awareness about the virus and the disease. The origin of this red ribbon symbol is quite straightforward. In 1991, one decade after the emergence of HIV as an alarming disease, 12 artists gathered in a gallery located in the East Village in New York. They discussed a project for Visual AIDS – an art organization in New York aiming for HIV awareness.
There, they came up with the red ribbon symbol, which is now one of the most recognized symbols in the world. This red ribbon is worn to symbolize awareness about HIV and AIDS as well as to show support to all people living with HIV. Unfortunately, during that time, HIV was a highly stigmatized infection. People suffering from it hid it as much as they can. The artists who invented the symbol wanted to show their compassion for people living with HIV.
History of World AIDS Day
It was James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter who first thought of the World AIDS Day celebration in August 1987. They were two public information officers at WHO Geneva, Switzerland in the Global Program on AIDS. They submitted this idea of theirs to Dr. Jonathan Mann, who at that time, was the Director of the Global Program on AIDS (now widely known as the UNAIDS). Fortunately for them, Dr. Mann approved of the concept and recommended the first observation of the World AIDS Day on the first of December, 1988. He suggested such day thinking that it would benefit from maximum coverage by the western news media because it long follows the US elections but happens before the Christmas holidays.
World AIDS Day: Remembering All Communities Affected
Transgender Day of Remembrance is an annual observance that honors the memory of those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence. This day underscores the importance of understanding and acceptance for all, irrespective of their gender identity. Similarly, World AIDS Day is a poignant reminder of the need for compassion, awareness, and action against the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which has disproportionately affected the LGBTQ+ community. Just as we remember and honor transgender lives on the Transgender Day of Remembrance, we also stand in solidarity on World AIDS Day to remember those we’ve lost and work towards a world free from stigma and discrimination. Learn more about Transgender Day of Remembrance.
What is the theme of World AIDS Day?
In the first two years of celebration, World AIDS Day focused on children and the young ones. This theme, however, was criticized by some people who do not know that anyone of any age can become infected with HIV. The theme, however, focused on alleviating the stigma about the disease.
In 1996, the United Nations Program on AIDS (UNAIDS) became operational. They took over the wheels on steering the World AIDS Day. They become in charge of the planning and promotion of the celebration day. Rather than focusing on just one day, the UNAIDS made the campaign all year round. They wanted to make communication, prevention, and education about the disease happen for an entire year. In 2004, the World AIDS Campaign became an independent organization.
World Aids Day Dates
As mentioned above, World AIDS Day is always celebrated on the 1st of December each year.
People love to celebrate this holiday as much as they love to celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day
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The following are the main reasons why you should participate in the celebration of World AIDS Day:
To Spread Awareness about AIDS
There are still a lot of people around the world who do not know much about AIDS and HIV. They are still affected by the stigma surrounding the disease. The solution to this problem is educating them. And you can be a part of the solution by celebrating the day and teaching other people about the facts of HIV and AIDS.
To Support HIV Patients
HIV afflicted individuals need support now more than ever. Most of them are embarrassed by what they have because of the stigma surrounding the infection. But as a friend, family, or simply just as a humble human being, you can show your support for them during this day of celebration by participating in the day.
Celebration Ideas and Activities
The following are the best things to do to make your celebration of the World AIDS Day as best as it can be:
Wear the Red Ribbon
You can celebrate this day well by wearing a red ribbon, the main symbol of the day. By doing this, you are expressing and showing your support for HIV patients as well as your opposition towards the stigma surrounding the infection.
Another good thing to do for this day is to get tested on HIV infection. You may not know that you may have already gotten the infection and you need antiretroviral treatments right away. This is especially important if you do not practice safe sex. So make sure to get tested and this can be your best day to do that.
Encourage Your Friends and Family to Get Tested
You can also encourage your friends and family to get themselves tested for HIV. Making sure that they are safe is always the best thing to do. So encourage them to go to the nearest HIV testing center to know whether or not they should start to get treatment right away.
Spread Useful Information
Also a good thing to do for this day is to spread useful information about HIV and AIDS. This is a step towards eliminating the stigma and misconceptions about the infection. Doing this will allow you to help and support HIV infected people and educate the public about it.
Celebrate on Social Media
You can also take your celebration of this day on social media. For example, you can use the hashtag #WorldAIDSDay in your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account to let your friends and followers know that you are also participating in the celebration of this day.
Themes & Slogans of World AIDS Day
Every year, the World AIDS Day campaign focuses on a specific theme that arises from consultations with WHO, UNAIDS, and various national and international agencies involved in the treatment and prevention of HIV and AIDS. The following themes have been the focus of the World Aids Day ever year since 1988:
- 1988 – Communication
- 1989 – Youth
- 1990 – Women and AIDS
- 1991 – haring the Challenge
- 1992 – Community Commitment
- 1993 – Time to Act
- 1994 – AIDS and the Family
- 1995 – Shared Rights, Shared Responsibilities
- 1996 – One World. One Hope.
- 1997 – Children Living in a World with AIDS
- 1998 – Force for Change: World AIDS Campaign with Young People
- 1999 – Listen, Learn, Live: World AIDS Campaign with Children & Young People
- 2000 – AIDS: Men Make a Difference
- 2001 – I care. Do you?
- 2002 – Stigma and Discrimination
- 2003 – Stigma and Discrimination
- 2004 – Women, Girls, HIV and AIDS
- 2005 – Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise
- 2006 – Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise – Accountability
- 2007 – Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise – Leadership
- 2008 – Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise – Lead – Empower – Deliver
- 2009 – Universal Access and Human Rights
- 2010 – Universal Access and Human Rights
- 2011 – Getting to Zero
- 2012 – Together we will end AIDS
- 2013 – Zero Discrimination
- 2014 – Close the gap
- 2015 – On the fast track to end AIDS
- 2016 – Hands up for #HIVprevention
- 2017 – My Health, My Right
- – Know your status
- – Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Community by Community
The following are facts about HIV and AIDS that are worth knowing and sharing with other people, especially during the celebration of the World AIDS Day:
- HIV and AIDS are problems not only in Africa but also in the United States and other countries all around the world.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 1.2 million Americans 13 years and older are living with HIV. One in four people living with AIDS in the United States in 2014 was a woman. An estimated 128,778 women have died of AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic in 1981.
- HIV is not the same as AIDS. HIV is the virus that leads to AIDS. You have AIDS if your CD4 count drops below 200 or when you have certain infections or cancers. Being infected with HIV does not mean you have developed AIDS.
- You can have HIV for years without having AIDS.
- Also, people with HIV who start treatment early in their infection, stay on treatment, and have an undetectable viral load can stay healthy and prevent the disease from progressing to AIDS.
- HIV tests are reliable. Newer HIV tests identify the virus itself and a marker on the virus called p24 antigen. These tests can detect HIV infection much earlier than previous tests. A follow-up test to confirm the results also can determine the strain of HIV infection you may have.
- Currently, there is no cure for HIV. However, HIV afflicted patients can reduce their viral load (amount of HIV in the blood) to the point that it is undetectable. An undetectable viral load does not mean that you no longer have HIV. It is still possible to pass HIV to others, although the risk is much lower. But some studies have shown that the probability of passing HIV from one person to another through sex is zero when that person has an undetectable viral road.
- Having an undetectable viral load also helps prevent the progression to AIDS or getting other infections.
- Research is being done that may lead to new treatments and new ways of preventing HIV infection.
- There is no vaccine to prevent HIV. Right now we do not have a vaccine to prevent HIV. Vaccines are the best way to prevent diseases you can get from other people, like the measles, mumps, or polio. Researchers have been working for more than 20 years to develop a safe and effective vaccine against HIV. HIV is a complicated virus that changes over time. This makes vaccine research difficult, and it takes a long time to do the research. Researchers are closer to developing a vaccine to prevent HIV and a vaccine to treat HIV and AIDS.
- People with HIV should start HIV medicine right away. Even if you’re feeling great and have no symptoms, HIV is hurting your immune system.
- To protect your immune system, doctors recommend starting HIV treatment called antiretroviral therapy as soon as you are diagnosed with HIV. The treatment will reduce the amount of HIV in your blood, they also reduce your chances of passing HIV to others.
- You cannot know if your partner has HIV unless he or she is tested.
- You (or your partner) need to wear a condom during sex, even if you are both HIV-positive.
- A pregnant woman with HIV can lower the chance of passing HIV to her unborn baby to less than 1%.
- You can get HIV from sharing needles or getting tattoos or body piercings.
- HIV is not spread by mosquitoes, sweat, tears, pools, or casual contact.
- “There is still time — to scale-up testing for HIV; to enable more people to access treatment; to increase resources needed to prevent new infections; and to end the stigma. At this critical juncture, we need to take the right turn now.” — António Guterres, UN Secretary-Genera
- It is bad enough that people are dying of AIDS, but no one should die of ignorance. – Elizabeth Taylor
- Give a child love, laughter and peace, not AIDS. – Nelson Mandela
- Let us give publicity to H.I.V./AIDS and not hide it, because the only way to make it appear like a normal illness like TB, like cancer, is always to come out and say somebody has died because of H.I.V./AIDS, and people will stop regarding it as something extraordinary. – Nelson Mandela
- AIDS today is not a death sentence. It can be treated as a chronic illness, or a chronic disease.- Yusuf Hamied
- Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.- Edwin Hubbel Chapin
- HIV does not make people dangerous to know, so you can shake their hands and give them a hug: Heaven knows they need it. – Princess Diana
- I’m a firm believer that education is the most efficient tool we have to make people aware and make our children aware, and to protect them from the scourge of the century, which is AIDS – Shakira
- Because of the lack of education on AIDS, discrimination, fear, panic, and lies surrounded me. – Ryan White
- If you judge people, you have no time to love them. – Mother Teresa
- Stigma hurts. Because of AIDS, children are bullied, isolated and shut out of school. They are missing out on education. They are missing out on medicines. Children are missing your love, care and protection. Join me. And become a stigma buster. UNITE FOR CHILDREN UNITE AGAINST AIDS – Jackie Chan
- I lost relatives to AIDS, a couple of my closest cousins. I lost friends to AIDS, high-school friends who never even made it to their 21st birthdays in the ’80s. When it’s that close to you, you can’t really deny it, and you can’t run from it. – Queen Latifah
- You can’t get AIDS from a hug or a handshake or a meal with a friend. – Magic Johnson
- AIDS itself is subject to incredible stigma. – Bill Gates