World AIDS Day: What Is It?
World AIDS Day is observed yearly on December 1st.
It is a day dedicated to raising awareness of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and remembering those who have died of the disease.
Health officials, government and non-governmental organizations, and individuals around the world observe the day, often providing education on AIDS prevention and control.
It is an opportunity for people to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people who are living with HIV, and honor those who have died from an AIDS-related illness.
Why Is It So Important?
There are an estimated 36.7 million people who have the virus worldwide. This includes:
- More than 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK.
- An estimated 1.1 million people living with HIV in the U.S.
HIV or AIDS has killed more than 35 million people since the virus was identified in 1984, which makes it one of the largest, most devastating, pandemics ever.
Thanks to scientific advances, we now understand more about the condition, and have made advances in HIV treatment. New treatment regimens have turned being HIV positive into a chronic condition for many people. With the right medical care, and a healthy lifestyle, many HIV positive people are living long, productive lives.
Unfortunately, there are still people that do not know how to protect themselves, and continue to get infected, or infect others.
- In the UK, there are approximately 6,000 new cases diagnosed each year
- There were 40,000 new cases diagnosed in the U.S. last year
World AIDS Day helps remind the government and the public that HIV continues to be a serious threat. There is a fundamental need to:
- Educate people
- Raise money for research and treatment
- Increase awareness
- Fight prejudice
How Can I Get Involved?
World AIDS Day is your chance to show support for the millions of people that are living with HIV worldwide.
Many people do this by wearing a red HIV awareness ribbon, and by attending World AIDS Day events. There are hundreds of events that take place every year to raise awareness and show support for people living with HIV. Your can find out about events in your area from your local HIV organization.
World AIDS Day is also a perfect opportunity to raise money for the National AIDS Trust by selling ribbons as a fundraiser.
NAT helps to champion the rights of people living with HIV. Even though there are laws to help protect people who have HIV, many people still live with the ignorance, stigma and discrimination of others.
This is an exciting turning point, but we need to stop HIV transmission, eliminate the stigma, and end the isolation experienced by people living with HIV, permanently. We need to create opportunities, and help people live full and happy lives.
What Else Can I Do?
Though World AIDS Day is officially observed one day each year, you can continue to support people living with HIV all year round.
- Sign up for mailing lists to stay up-to-date on new developments in HIV.
- Get involved as an activist or volunteer.
- Organize a fundraiser.
- Donate to help with treatment, fundraising, and education.
- Post a red awareness ribbon on your website or social networking page.
- You could add a red ribbon or a message about World AIDS Day to your email signature.