Life Desk :
World AIDS Day is observed on the 1st December each year to raise awareness, end the prejudice associated with the condition and to show solidarity for persons with HIV
HIV/AIDS is one of the biggest and most destructive pandemics of recent times; since 1984 when it was first described nearly than 35 million have succumbed to the disease worldwide
Currently there are over 36 million persons living with HIV infection underscoring the fact that a lot still needs to be done to keep this scourge under check.
History of World AIDS Day
World AIDS Day was initially conceived in August 1987 and the United Nations approved 1st December 1988 as the first ever World AIDS Day event.
In 1996, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) came into force and manages the planning and promotion of World AIDS Day. The World AIDS Campaign was introduced in 1997 to focus on year-round education, and preventive action. It became an independent organization in 2004.
'AIDS/HIV cannot be wished away - a lot more still needs to be done to end the stigma associated, to educate and extend support for those living with the condition'
Every year on World AIDS Day, the Pope and American President lead world leaders in issuing proclamations and messages to patients and doctors all over the world.
World AIDS Day 2017 - Campaign, Theme and Events
The UNAIDS has launched the campaign for World AIDS Day 2017, "My Health, My Right" and stresses the fact that persons all over the world irrespective of age, sex, nationality or ethnicity have a right to health and aims to remove the discrimination and bias that exists and the challenges that people face daily in exercising their rights.
"All people, regardless of their age, gender, where they live or who they love, have the right to health," said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. "No matter what their health needs are, everyone requires health solutions that are available and accessible, free from discrimination and of good quality.
Other themes and slogans being promoted by countries across the world include
Increasing Impact through Transparency, Accountability, and Partnerships LET'S END IT - End isolation, End stigma, End HIV transmission World AIDS Day 2017: Everybody counts.
The common message brought forth focuses on being inclusive, removing discrimination, education and joining hands in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Under the slogan "Everybody counts", WHO hopes to make available safe and effective treatment, affordable medicines, diagnostic testing and other services for everyone while ensuring they are secured against financial risks.
What we can do to make the World AIDS Day 2017 mission a reality
There are many ways in which we can contribute our might in making the event a grand success and spreading awareness and ending the negative associations that HIV/AIDS conjures up.
Using social media such as Facebook and Twitter effectively to share facts and dispel myths existing about HIV/AIDS. Post the badge and slogan below on your page and share your message. Use the hashtag #WAD2017. Better still, you can create your own poster with a catchy slogan and share it on social media
Conducting events in schools and colleges to educate students about HIV/AIDS and how they can protect themselves Organize fundraising events such as sale of tee shirts, logos, red ribbons, mugs with messages or organizing a baking or sports event in your community and donating the proceedings to AIDS charity or research
The red ribbon is the global symbol of solidarity and support for people living with HIV and awareness. Wearing a red ribbon is a great way to show our support. Doctors and health personnel can offer free HIV screening and display prominent messages about the condition and dispelling myths about HIV/AIDS.
Involving the local administration and celebrities to speak about and promote events in the community
The media can be actively involved in displaying messages and carrying advertisements about the condition and resources available to the people who are affected with the condition
Distributing leaflets and educational material about HIV/AIDS to the general public in prominent locations in the neighborhood.
Important buildings and other landmarks can display prominent HIV/AIDS symbols and messages. In the US, the White House marks World AIDS Day with a prominent display of a 28-foot AIDS Ribbon on the building's North Portico since 2007
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that affects the immune system and destroys the capacity of the immune system to ward off infections and renders the person susceptible to opportunistic infections and certain cancers.
Key populations or groups who are at high risk of contracting HIV include: men who have sex with men, intravenous drug users, people in prisons and other closed settings, transgender persons, and sex workers and their customers
HIV infection refers to a person testing positive for the virus on blood testing i.e. being infected; AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is advanced clinical stage of HIV infection marked by occurrence of opportunistic infections and/or HIV associated cancers
Currently, with advances in treatment, namely advent of antiretroviral therapy (ART), HIV infection is a manageable longterm illness.
Between 2000 and 2016, incidence of new cases fell by 39%, and HIV-related deaths dropped by one third with over a 13 million lives saved due to ART during the same time. This achievement has been made possible due to several well-managed and coordinated national AIDS programmes in partnership with various governmental and non-governmental organizations.
However HIV still remains a major public health concern due to continued risky behavior of persons and no effective vaccine to prevent the disease in the high risk population. Newer guidelines to prevent infection in high risk groups are being actively pursued hoping to bring down the incidence of new cases.
It is hoped that events such as World AIDS Day and the continued efforts of international organizations and their partners to create awareness, and ongoing research to find a vaccine or a cure for the disease will bear fruit sooner than later.