First recognized in 1988, World AIDS Day falls on December 1 each year. World AIDS Day is dedicated to spreading awareness of the AIDS pandemic spread by the spread of HIV infection, and to mourning those who have died of the disease. An estimated 40 million people worldwide have died of AIDS since 1981, and an estimated 37 million are living with HIV, making it one of the most important global public health issues in recorded history. Despite recent improvements in treatment, the AIDS epidemic still claims an estimated two million lives each year, of which more than 250,000 are children.
When the AIDS epidemic broke, because I happened to be a science nerd and knew a lot about viruses and a lot about that virus at the time, I felt a moral obligation to go out and try to stem the fear and get out and explain to people what the disease was and how it worked.
– Morgan Fairchild
There is a disease that reached out into the world and changed the way we thought about everything, from how we got our blood transfusions to our sexual practices. It was met with a campaign of fear and superstition that harmed both those who had it, and the families and friends of those who surrounded them.
While HIV and AIDS are out in the world today, the horror stories that were told of how it works and how it was transmitted have largely been mitigated. World AIDS Day works to ensure that those who suffer from AIDS can live in a safer, more understanding world and help further research to eliminate it.
History of World AIDS Day
World AIDS Day was first held in 1988, just four years after the discovery of the virus and its official classification. Since that time 35 million people have died, putting it far ahead of many of the other most devastating diseases in the history of man. Since that day the work of men and women everywhere has led to a greater understanding of HIV/AIDS (you can’t get it by sharing a can of coke, or sharing a toilet seat, for instance), but that has only served to slow the tide. 6,000 people each year are diagnosed with HIV in the UK alone, and there are still people out there who don’t know all the facts about it.
How to celebrate World AIDS Day
Start off by educating yourself about AIDS on websites like Worldaidsday.org, and then start researching what you can do to help. Whether it’s a small donation to help fund education and research, or volunteering your time to help with their campaigns and causes, there’s little you can do that’s as worthwhile as helping to end the epidemic that is HIV/AIDS.
You can also wear a red ribbon on World AIDS Day to help spread awareness of the disease, and hand out red ribbons to your friends, co-workers, and family to help them spread the word as well. It’s important that everyone understand the dangers of HIV/AIDS, and just as important that they understand how it’s contracted. Not just as a way to avoid contracting it, but to reduce the fear that surrounds this horrible condition.