First recognized in 1988, World AIDS Day falls on December 1 each year. World AIDS Day is dedicated to spreading awareness of the AIDS pandemic spread by the spread of HIV infection, and to mourning those who have died of the disease. An estimated 40 million people worldwide have died of AIDS since 1981, and an estimated 37 million are living with HIV, making it one of the most important global public health issues in recorded history. Despite recent improvements in treatment, the AIDS epidemic still claims an estimated two million lives each year, of which more than 250,000 are children.
Why do we celebrate World AIDS Day?
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.
What does the red ribbon symbolize for World AIDS Day?
The red ribbon is the universal symbol of awareness and support for people living with HIV. Wearing a ribbon is a great way to raise awareness on and during the run-up to World AIDS Day.
HOW TO OBSERVE WORLD AIDS DAY
1. Wear a red ribbon
Wearing a red ribbon in your lapel is the most broadly recognized way of showing your support on World AIDS Day. Red symbolizes blood, and the pain caused by the disease, anger about global inaction to fight the epidemic, a warning to take the disease seriously, and a symbol of love, passion, and tolerance towards those affected by the disease. Check online to find a ribbon supplier that supports a charitable cause.
2. Donate to an AIDS charity
There are a host of national and international nonprofits devoted to fighting the disease and problems associated with its spread. Check online and consider whether you’d like to support an organization in the United States, where deaths have been declining since the mid-1990s but infection continues to affect thousands of people each year, or perhaps an organization focused on infection in Sub-Saharan Africa, where Adult HIV Prevalence has reached 1 in 20 people and 1.2 million people die of HIV/AIDS each year.
Attend a candlelight vigil
Most major cities in the U.S. host candlelight vigils on World AIDS Day as a way of visually commemorating those lost to the disease and vowing to fight it in the future. Check online to find a vigil near you and head along to show your support. Don’t forget to share your experience on social media to ensure that the idea is brought to the front of mind for your friends, and to demonstrate your support.
5 SURPRISING FACTS ABOUT AIDS
HIV originated from Chimps
The human immunodeficiency virus originated from viruses in chimpanzees and monkeys.
You don’t always feel sick
HIV may not show symptoms for years and it is possible to be infected for a decade and feel absolutely fine — transmission of the infection during this time is still possible.
Many people don’t know they have it
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in five people living in the U.S. don’t know they have the virus.
Minorities are infected more
New cases of HIV infection are most prevalent in minority groups — this is due to a variety of factors, including lack of education, poverty, and stigma.
Children are just as much in danger
By the end of 2011, 3.3 million children around the world were living with HIV.