World AIDS Day: United in the Fight Against HIV
Each December 1st since 1988, World AIDS Day has united the globe in supporting the 34 million people who live with the HIV virus and remembering the some 35 million who have lost their battle with the disease.
Almost 30 years ago it was one of the first-ever globally recognized health days. Today, World AIDS Day continues to raise awareness about one of the most devastating pandemics in our history.
Though research advances in science have drastically cut the number of annual deaths, many HIV patients still face discrimination. Here’s a look at the history of a movement that’s helping to educate the public and reduce the stigma around what it means to live with HIV.
About World AIDS Day
According to National AIDS Trust (NAT) who help organize World AIDS Day, the annual show of support, “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.”
That increase of awareness began to really take off in the early 90s. It was then a group of 12 artists, filmmakers and designers who decided to help galvanize the fight against prejudice by making it more visible. A decade after the public became aware of HIV, these creatives launched a genius idea birthed in shared NY gallery space.
The final product: A Red Ribbon.
Why A Red Ribbon?
Nat explains, “The red ribbon is the universal symbol of awareness and support for those living with HIV…Red was chosen as it is bold and visible – symbolizing passion, a heart and love.”
Once high-profile actors began adorning their red carpet outfits with the ribbon, the media started to take notice. After the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in London, the audience of 100,000 helped solidify the ribbon as the universally recognized symbol it is today by showing their support.
Two decades later, red ribbons continue to help raise awareness of HIV and serve as a powerful reminder of how far we’ve come in the fight against prejudice.
Participating in World AIDS Day
One way you can show your solidarity is by wearing a red ribbon. Doing so shows you stand up for the rights of those living with HIV and support their struggle. Go here to learn more about where to get a red ribbon for yourself or for a group.
Another way to help battle stigma and raise awareness is by donating money to organizations like NAT (National AIDS Trust) who support HIV patients all year long.
Ultimately, as a society we’ve made huge progress since HIV was first diagnosed more than 30 years ago. While HIV is no longer considered an automatic death sentence, an uninformed public can make life really difficult for patients. Like this year’s 2016 HIV Not Retro Campaign states, “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.”
To our Dignity Patients who live with HIV and to the families who help care for them, know that we care for you and support you!