Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day encourages people and organisations to come together to raise awareness and speak against the stigma around HIV/AIDS. On December 1 of every year, World AIDS Day is observed to show support for the individuals living with HIV and commemorate the ones who lost their lives to the fight against AIDS.
It was the first-ever international day for global health and has been observed for over 30 years. Such a day is an opportunity for everyone around the world to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Each year, World AIDS Day has a specific theme set around HIV/AIDS which reflects the goals and objectives to be achieved on a global scale.
HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which causes AIDS is a serious public health issue worldwide. AIDS, or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, is the last stage of HIV infection where the immune system of the body is greatly damaged by HIV.
In the year 2020, it was estimated that there are approximately 37.6 million people with HIV around the globe. Out of these, 1.7 million were children under the age of 15 years and 35.9 million were adults. Thus, it is crucial to create awareness and ensure individuals with HIV get access to the treatment at the right time.
Many individuals having HIV or at the risk of contracting the virus still do not have access to the treatment, care or prevention methods of HIV/AIDS. With no effective cure available to treat the virus, many communities and households have been impacted due to the HIV epidemic. However, global efforts are being made to address HIV infections. The international World AIDS Day aims to reduce the stigma around HIV and encourages individuals to avail medical care for a healthy life.
2020 - Global solidarity, shared responsibility
2019 - Communities make the difference
2018 - Know your status
2017 - My health, my right
2016 - Hands up for HIV prevention
2015 - On the Fast-Track to end AIDS
2014 - Close the gap
2013 - Zero discrimination
2012 - Together we will end AIDS
2011 - Getting to zero
2010 - Universal access and human rights
2009 - Universal access and human rights
2008 - Stop AIDS. Keep the promise - lead, empower, deliver
2007 - Stop AIDS. Keep the promise - leadership
2006 - Stop AIDS. Keep the promise - accountability
2005 - Stop AIDS. Keep the promise
2004 - Women, girls, HIV and AIDS
2003 - Stigma and discrimination
2002 - Stigma and discrimination
2001 - I care, do you?
2000 - AIDS: men make a difference
1999 - Listen, learn, live! World AIDS campaign with children and young people
1998 - Force for change - world AIDS campaign with young people
1997 - Children living in a world of AIDS
1996 - One world, one hope
1995 - Shared rights, shared responsibilities
1994 - AIDS and the family
1993 - Time to act
1992 - AIDS - a community commitment
1991 - Sharing the challenge
1990 - Women and AIDS
1989 - Our lives, our world - let’s take care of each other
1988 - A world united against AIDS
The theme of the World AIDS Day campaign of 2020 was ‘Global solidarity, shared responsibility’ influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic that impacted countries worldwide. The novel Covid-19 virus has shown how health is related to other social issues such as reducing human rights, inequality, social protection, gender equality and more. The message behind the theme of the international World AIDS Day campaign of 2020 was how no one is safe unless everyone is safe. Furthermore, it also emphasised how wealth should not be the deciding factor for getting the required medical care.
Little was known about the spread of HIV until two doctors, Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier isolated the virus at the Institut Pasteur in 1983. The World Health Organisation (WHO) assessed the situation globally and started monitoring it the very same year. For the very first time, the news spread that the virus did not only affect specific groups of habitual drug users or the LGTBQ community but also heterosexuals.
People also learnt that unprotected sex, sexually transmitted infection (STI), injury due to a needle stick or unsafe medical procedures such as blood transfusions or tissue transplants could all make you susceptible to the disease. A pregnant woman infected with the virus could also transmit HIV to her baby. Now that people worldwide had more knowledge about the illness, what was needed was to step up scientific research for the treatment of the disease.
The special programme for AIDS set up by WHO in 1987 went on to become the global programme on AIDs under Dr. Jonathan Mann noting country responses to this epidemic and focusing on research.
There are some safety measures that you and your partner can take towards preventing HIV/AIDS. These include:
Get Tested for HIV
It is recommended that you and your partner should get tested for HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections(STIs). If you have any STIs, it increases your chances of getting infected with HIV during intercourse and thus, it is best to take some protective measures.
If you or your partner has been diagnosed with any STIs, then it is advised to get tested for HIV as well.
Avoid Sharing Needles or Syringes
As HIV can be transmitted through shared syringes and needles, ensure you or your doctor always uses new and clean medical equipment. It is best to avoid injection drug use to prevent getting HIV infection.
Take Precautionary Measures
Make sure you take preventive measures while having intercourse with your partner such as using protection. This shall also ensure you are safe from getting diagnosed with any STIs. However, other birth control methods like pills, diaphragms, implants, etc. will not protect you from getting HIV infection.
It is also best to maintain a monogamous relationship with your partner to prevent the risk of HIV or STIs.
Although there are no vaccines available to prevent HIV/AIDS, you can get vaccinated for protection against STIs. Consult your doctor and find out the vaccines you can take to secure your health.
On this international World AIDS Day, you can show support and solidarity with people living with HIV/AIDS. Many individuals wear a red ribbon as a symbol of awareness. You can choose to purchase it from NGOs as a donation. You can also participate in awareness campaigns online to help spread the message and destigmatize HIV/AIDS.
Such campaigns also reveal how crucial our health is and the importance of prioritising it above all. Without access to the right medical care and the soaring healthcare cost, ensuring you have sufficient coverage is a must. So, secure yourself with a health insurance plan today and eliminate the worries arising from treatment expenses.