World AIDS Day
World AIDS Day is observed on 1st December every year since 1988. It is an international day to unite in the fight against Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), show support for people living with HIV, and commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness.
Around the world, individuals and organizations worldwide have been trying to bring attention to the HIV epidemic and increase awareness and knowledge. Healthcare workers and organizations that care for people living with HIV have worked tirelessly to continue to provide vital services.
Each year, a specific theme is chosen for World AIDS Day, and the 2021 theme of World AIDS Day is “End inequalities. End AIDS”. The theme highlights the growing inequalities in access to HIV services.
History of World AIDS Day
World AIDS Day was the first-ever global health day founded in 1988. In 1987, two officers for the Global Program on AIDS at the WHO (World Health Organization), James Bunn and Thomas Netter, first came up with this idea.
They aimed to increase international awareness about this global health issue and to educate people on the virus. They proposed the idea to the Director of the Global Program on AIDS, Dr. Jonathan Mann. He supported the idea and approved the recommendation of observing the first World AIDS Day on December 01, 1988.
There are approximately 38 million people currently living with HIV worldwide and millions more we have lost to the AIDS epidemic. AIDS-related deaths have been reduced by 60% since the peak in 2004. In 2019, around 690,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses worldwide, compared to 1.1 million in 2010.
How to observe World AIDS Day
Celebrating World AIDS Day can take a variety of forms. You may choose to honor the day by researching the impacts of AIDS or learning more about how HIV affects communities.
You may want to educate yourself about harm reduction or learn how you can help end the stigma of HIV. You may want to honor those lost by viewing AIDS memorials. You may want to get an HIV test to mark the day. You may wear a red ribbon on this day which is one of the most recognized ways of showing your support on World AIDS day.
You can support people living with or at risk for HIV and make it easier for them to stay healthy and live their best life. Getting involved in the fight to end HIV may be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do.
Donate to AIDS Charity who is working tirelessly to fight this disease. You could do some research or check online to find an organization you would like to support by donating.
HIV can be spread in the following ways:
By sexual intercourse (vaginal, anal, or oral) with a person who has HIV. Both males and females can spread HIV.
Through contact with an HIV-infected person’s blood. This can happen when sharing syringes or needles, accidentally getting stuck by a needle with a person’s blood on it or contact with other body fluids containing blood.
To a baby by a mother with HIV during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or breastfeeding, or sharing pre-chewed food.
Through blood or blood products from blood transfusions, organ transplants, or artificial insemination. This is very rare because today donated blood, sperm, tissue, and organs are routinely screened and tested for HIV.
The following symptoms may suggest a need for HIV testing:
- Persistent fevers
- Loss of appetite
- Frequent diarrhea
- Poor weight gain or rapid weight loss
- Swelling of the lymph nodes (glands) that does not go away
- Extreme tiredness or lethargy that does not go away with rest
- White spots in the mouth
- Recurring or unusual infections
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