Since 1988, on the 1st of December, World AIDS Day has been celebrated as an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of the HIV infection and also to mourn those who have lost their lives to the disease. It's a day to support those affected by the virus and to reflect on how this disease has had a profound impact on individuals, families, and communities worldwide. Let's explore further.
A mini-history of World AIDS Day
Established in 1988, World AIDS Day is one of the first global health days and has been instrumental in uniting people in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The theme for each World AIDS Day varies, but the overarching goal remains the same: to reduce the spread of HIV, support those living with the virus, and remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS-related illnesses.
The day is a global public health campaign observed by all UN member states and the red ribbon for the cause is a global symbol of solidarity for those who are HIV-positive and those living with AIDS.
The idea was conceived by James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter, who were two public information officers for the Global Programme on AIDS at the World Health Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland. Bunn was a former broadcast television journalist from San Francisco and recommended the 1st of December date to maximise coverage of the day in Western media, following the US election but before Christmas.
The first two years' themes focused on children and young people, which helped alleviate some of the stigma around the disease.
The World AIDS Day website notes: "105,000 people are living with HIV. Globally, an estimated 38 million people live with the virus. More than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS-related illnesses over the past 40 years, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history." The cause is a vital one to support because of how many people it impacts.
What can I do to support the cause?
You can sign up to receive free red ribbons, a collection box, and ready-made activities to have a charity fundraiser of your own here on the worldaidsday.org website. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the day's commencement.
World AIDS Day provides an opportunity to dispel myths, raise awareness about the importance of testing and early diagnosis, and promote safe sex and prevention measures. It is also a time to address the stigma and discrimination often faced by people living with HIV and AIDS, emphasising the need for empathy and understanding.
Throughout the world, events and activities are organized to mark World AIDS Day. These can include educational programs, candlelight vigils, seminars, and testing campaigns. The global community unites to reflect on the progress made in combating HIV/AIDS and the challenges that lie ahead.
Another fun titbit is that Pride – The Musical is underway (there’s a 2014 film) which is based on the life of Mark Ashton who formed Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) and died of AIDS back in 1987 aged just 26.
While significant strides have been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS, the battle is far from over. Through continued awareness, research, and support, we can move closer to the goal of eradicating HIV/AIDS and ensuring that everyone affected by this virus can live a healthy and fulfilling life. It is a day of unity and commitment to a better, healthier future for all.Let us know on Tria Beauty UK's Facebook or Instagram how you plan to support the cause.