This article was published on November 22nd, 2018
December 1, 2018 will mark the 30thanniversary of World AIDS Day, a day in which participants around the world sport a red ribbon to commemorate those living with and those who have died from HIV and AIDS. This year, with the theme “Know your status” organizers of World AIDS Day want to spread accessibility to testing facilities in harder to reach areas and continue spreading education and information about those living with the disease.
Founded 30 years ago this December 1 at the World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programmes for AIDS Prevention, World AIDS Day was born out of a necessity to spread knowledge, information, and preventative tools to people around the world in an attempt to suppress the spread of the virus. It was the first global health day ever created. For 30 years, United Nations member countries, governments, and agencies have held celebrations, rallies, speeches, and gatherings to continue bringing awareness to HIV / AIDS.
In a show of solidarity and support, participants wear red ribbons as a sign of commitment to standing by friends, colleagues, peers, and loved ones with the disease and to remember the more than 35 million people who have died from AIDS-related complications. The red ribbon came about from a group of queer NYC artists and activists who were inspired by yellow ribbons on trees to show support for troops in the Gulf War of the 1990s. Instead of using typical colors like pink or lavender often associated with the gay community, they chose red for its boldness and to convey that HIV is indiscriminate to everyone who bleeds red.
With a bold mission of eradicating AIDS by 2030, World AIDS Day 2018 organizers look to spreading accessibility of PrEP and testing facilities, while educating more and more communities about safe sex and living with HIV. 1 in 7 people in the United States alone are living with HIV but are unaware of their infection. As a result of an increase of testing facilities and access to Pre-Exposure Prophylactics, the HIV transmission rate decreased nearly 8% between 2010- 2016. World health organizers believe that number can increase with increased efforts of spreading awareness, education and accessibility.
This World’s AIDS Day, wear red or a red ribbon to honor your brothers and sisters who are currently living with HIV AIDS. Just by having conversations about the disease has led to a decrease in stigma and increase in effectiveness in the battle to eventually eradicate it. Talk to your friends, family, and loved ones about HIV and AIDS. Once a scary death sentence, HIV and AIDS are diseases we WILL see an end of in our lifetime.
This World’s AIDS Day, do what you can to help end this disease once and for all. Get tested. Know your status. Wear a red ribbon. And start having conversations about HIV and its gradual demise. www.worldaidsday.org