World AIDS Day History
World AIDS Day serves to remember those who have died from AIDS and to bring about awareness of HIV/AIDS through education and publicly held events. HIV is a virus that attacks the body's immune system and makes it progressively more difficult to fight infections and diseases. Once HIV advances and becomes so severe that the body's immune system is too weak to fight off many infections and diseases, it is called AIDS. There is currently no cure for HIV or AIDS and if left untreated by antiretroviral medication, patients' immune systems fail leading to death. World AIDS Day is also an opportunity for people to show their support for people living with HIV.
World AIDS Day is one of the 8 WHO Global Health Days. The day was created by the World Health Organization in 1988. Since its inception over two decades ago, the world has managed to halt and reverse the spread of HIV. According to the WHO, the occurrence of new cases has decreased 35% between 2000 and 2015, while AIDS-related deaths have decreased by 24% over the same time frame, all thanks to antiretroviral treatments and widespread AIDS education and awareness. World AIDS Day is observed on December 1st of each year.
World AIDS Day Facts
- The theme for World AIDS Day in 2016 was Leadership. Commitment. Impact.
- The Red Ribbon is the universal symbol of support for those living with HIV/AIDS.
- The AIDS Memorial Quilt Project allows friends and family members of someone who has died from AIDS to construct a quilt panel and have it placed in the quilt. The quilt travels and is displayed throughout the US.
- The first case of what is now known as AIDS was reported in the US in June 1981.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than a million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, and almost 1 in 5 are unaware of their infection.
- According to World Health Organization, AIDS has claimed over 39 million lives globally.
World AIDS Day Top Events and Things to Do
- Wear a Red Ribbon, an international symbol of AIDS support.
- Learn the facts of how HIV is transmitted so you can be better prepared. Remember, HIV is spread through body fluids such as blood, semen, rectal and vaginal fluids and breast milk.
- Get involved in a fundraising efforts to support research into HIV/AIDS treatment. Many fundraisers are done in the form of HIV/AIDS day walks.
- Watch a movie or documentary about HIV/AIDS. Some popular suggestions: Dallas Buyers Club (2013), Philadelphia(1993), Longtime Companion (1990), The Age of AIDS (2006) and AIDS, Inc (2007).
- Get tested if unsure of your infection status. Local pharmacies sell HIV home test kits or you can find free testing sites in most areas.