Dedicated to raising awareness about the HIV infection and AIDS (Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome), World Aids Day is observed on December 1 every year. This day unites people from across the world in the fight against AIDS. AIDS is a spectrum of diseases caused due to infection by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). World Aids Day is celebrated to remember those who died because of conditions related to AIDS and to stand is solidarity with those who are HIV positive. The day is observed by individuals, NGOs, health officials, government and non-government organisations from across the world. Speeches and discussions about the AIDS are organised on the day. World AIDS Day is among the eight global health campaigns observed by WHO (World Health Organization) and it offers an opportunity to raise awareness about the condition among people along with its possible treatment and preventive measures. Other campaigns include World Blood Donor Day, World Health Day, World No Tobacco Day, World Tuberculosis Day, World Immunization Week, World Hepatitis Day and World Malaria Day.
Greeting messages are released by Pope Benedict XVI on World AIDS Day, each year. In 2007, the White House in the US started displaying a 28-foot AIDS Ribbon on the North Portico of the building to mark World AIDS Day. It has now become an annual tradition.
History of World AIDS Day
Thomas Netter and James W Bunn were the first people to visualise World AIDS Day in August 1987. Both Netter and Bunn were working as public information officers at the World Health Organization for the Global Program on AIDS. Their idea was approved by the Director of the Global Program on AIDS, Jonathan Mann, and he recommended that the day must be observed on December 1, 1988. The date December 1 to celebrate World AIDS Day was selected believing that it would get more media coverage.
During the first two years of the campaign, the World AIDS Day theme focused on young people and children. This helped in increasing awareness about AIDS as a family disease and in alleviating some stigma around it. In 1996, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) became active and the planning of World AIDS Day and promoting it became their responsibility. The World AIDS Campaign came to be known as an independent organisation in 2004.
Significance of World AIDS Day
Since the first HIV cases were reported, 35 million people have died due to illnesses related to AIDS and 78 million have been tested positive for HIV infection across the globe. AIDS is among the most destructive diseases in the history. World AIDS Day provides the at-risk communities like gay community an opportunity to receive an update on any treatment updates. It is also the time to support those with HIV infection and remember those who lost their battle against this pandemic.
Today, the society understands much more about AIDS, laws have been framed to safeguard the right of those suffering from this condition and progress has been made in HIV treatment, but thousands of people are diagnosed with HIV every year. World AIDS Day is a reminder that has not gone anywhere. There is still a need for awareness about the condition, to educate people to protect themselves and to raise money. World AIDS Day is an important day important as it reminds Government and public to improve education, fight stigma, and raise awareness about AIDS.
World AIDS Day 2016 and theme
According to the press statement released by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the world has committed to stop the AIDS epidemic under the Sustainable Development Goals, by 2030. Although, we have developed life-saving HIV treatment, the AIDS epidemic is still winning and the number of people getting infected by HIV virus is still high. So, World AIDS Day is celebrated to show raise awareness about the condition and for that each year a theme is selected for the day. World AIDS Day2016 theme is “Hands up for #HIVprevention”.