"WORLD AIDS DAY"
CULTURE & DISRUPT
As of 2013, AIDS has killed more than 36 million people worldwide (1981–2012), and an estimated 35.3 million people are living with HIV, making it one of the most important global public health issues in recorded history. Despite recent improved access to antiretroviral treatment in many regions of the world, the AIDS epidemic claims an estimated 2 million lives each year, of which about 270,000 are children.
If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. ~Author Unknown
World AIDS Day is celebrated on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people from all over the world to join in the fight against HIV, demonstrate support for people living with HIV and commemorate People who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever World Health Day, held for the first time in 1988.
"On this day, let us pay tribute to those whom HIV/AIDS took from us too soon, and let us recognize those who continue to fight for a world free from AIDS. Let us also recognize researchers, providers, and advocates, who work each day on behalf of people living with HIV, and in honor of the precious lives we have lost to HIV. Together, we can forge a future in which no person — here in America or anywhere in our world — knows the pain or stigma caused by HIV/AIDS." ~Barack Obama,
Why is World AIDS Day important?
Over 100,000 people are living with HIV in the UK. Globally there are an estimated 34 million people who have the virus. Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
Today, scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. Despite this, each year in the UK around 6,000 people are diagnosed with HIV, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with the condition.
“Because of the lack of education on AIDS, discrimination, fear, panic, and lies surrounded me.” » Ryan White
World AIDS Day is important because it reminds the public and Government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.
“Be an opener of doors for such as come after thee, and do not try to make the universe a blind alley.” » Ralph Waldo Emerson
What should I do on World AIDS Day?
World AIDS Day is an opportunity to show support to and solidarity with the millions of people living with HIV. Wearing a red ribbon is one simple way to do this. Find out where you can get a red ribbon.
World AIDS Day is also a great opportunity to raise money for NAT (National AIDS Trust) and show your support for people living with HIV. If you feel inspired to hold an event, such as a bake sale, or simply sell red ribbons, visit our fundraising page. If you’d like to see events that others are holding please visit our events page.
“If you have much, give of your wealth; if you have little, give of your heart.” » Arabian Proverb
But what about after World AIDS Day?
Although World AIDS Day is a great opportunity to talk about HIV, it is important to keep the momentum going all year round. Sign up to NAT's newsletter which will keep you up to date with all the new developments in HIV and the work of the National AIDS Trust, or visit our website, HIVaware, for more information.
World AIDS Day was first conceived in August 1987 by James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter, two public information officers for the Global Programme on AIDS at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Bunn and Netter took their idea to Dr. Jonathan Mann, Director of the Global Programme on AIDS (now known as UNAIDS). Dr. Mann liked the concept, approved it, and agreed with the recommendation that the first observance of World AIDS Day should be on 1 December 1988. Bunn, a former television broadcast journalist from San Francisco, had recommended the date of 1 December that believing it would maximize coverage of World AIDS Day by western news media, sufficiently long following the US elections but before the Christmas holidays.
In its first two years, the theme of World AIDS Day focused on children and young people. While the choice of this theme was criticized at the time by some for ignoring the fact that people of all ages may become infected with HIV, the theme helped alleviate some of the stigma surrounding the disease and boost recognition of the problem as a family disease.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) became operational in 1996, and it took over the planning and promotion of World AIDS Day. Rather than focus on a single day, UNAIDS created the World AIDS Campaign in 1997 to focus on year-round communications, prevention and education. In 2004, the World AIDS Campaign became an independent organization.
Each year, Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have released a greeting message for patients and doctors on World AIDS Day.
“I lost relatives to AIDS. A couple of my closest cousins, favorite cousins. I lost friends to AIDS, high school friends who never even made it to their 21st birthdays in the ’80s. When it’s that close to you, you can’t – you know, you can’t really deny it, and you can’t run from it.” » Queen Latifah
In 2016, a collection of HIV and AIDS related NGOs (including Panagea Global AIDS and The AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa started a campaign to rename World AIDS Day to World HIV Day. They claim the change will put the emphasis on social justice issues, and the advancement of treatments like PrEP.
In the US, the White House began marking World AIDS Day with the iconic display of a 28-foot AIDS Ribbon on the building's North Portico in 2007. The display, now an annual tradition, quickly garnered attention, as it was the first banner, sign or symbol to prominently hang from the White House since the Abraham Lincoln administration.
US presidential proclamations of World AIDS Day are issued annually since 1995.
“I have learned more about love, selflessness and human understanding from the people I have met in this great adventure in the world of AIDS than I ever did in the cutthroat, competitive world in which I spent my life.” » Anthony Perkins
HIV STIGMA: NOT RETRO, JUST WRONG
Being diagnosed with HIV today means something very different than it did 20 or 30 years ago. HIV is no longer a death sentence. However, people’s attitudes can make living with HIV really hard. Some things from the 1980s and 1990s are worth revisiting, but HIV stigma isn’t one of them. It’s time to end HIV stigma.
The problems that the 'rest of the population' creates for me makes living with HIV difficult to the point where taking my medication, remaining unemployed and choosing friends carefully appears to be the only comfortable option.
This World AIDS Day, help us put HIV stigma firmly in the past where it belongs, by joining our Not Retro, Just Wrong campaign.
CHALLENGE HIV STIGMA ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Take a stand against HIV stigma on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram this World AIDS Day.
Share a funny or embarrassing picture of you (or your parents!) from the 80s or 90s, to show that although some retro styles have come back in to fashion some things should be left in the past, including HIV stigma. Or share one of our campaign posters, below. Remember to hashtag #HIVNotRetro
ASK YOUR MP TO SHOW LEADERSHIP ON HIV STIGMA
World AIDS Day is the perfect opportunity to make sure your MP is thinking about HIV and supporting their constituents who are living with and affected by HIV. That's why this November our HIV Activists network will be writing to their MPs to ask they show leadership on HIV stigma in Parliament in their community in the lead-up to 1 December. One way they can do this is by wearing a red ribbon at Prime Minister's Questions and in their local area. We also want to encourage MPs to visit local HIV support services to understand the issues affecting their constituents.
Help us fill Parliament with red ribbons this World AIDS Day! Write to your MP, using our easy letter template – and then share with your friends!
TAKE A STAND AGAINST HIV STIGMA IN YOUR DAILY LIFE
Share the #HIVNotRetro campaign in your workplace, school or university. Post a Not Retro poster. Hold a Not Retro awareness day, for example by asking people to wear 80s or 90s fashion or to have a retro-themed lunch.
Wear a red ribbon on World AIDS Day. The red ribbon is an internationally recognised way to show support and solidarity to the millions of people living with HIV.
If you like the idea of holding a World AIDS Day event, check out our ideas for how you can raise awareness and fundraise at the same time.
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