Today marks World AIDS Day, an annual global campaign to raise awareness of AIDS and tackle the ignorance and stigma that still surrounds the disease. There are still a lot of people who don’t know about AIDS, which makes World AIDS Day the perfect opportunity for us to educate ourselves and get involved with fundraising and sharing the message.
What is World AIDS day?
World AIDS Day takes place every year and was the first and largest campaign of its kind, beginning in 1988. Being a global awareness day, it encourages everyone across the world to unite in the fight against AIDS. One of the most well-known features of the campaign is the red ribbon badge, which people are encouraged to wear to show their support.
AIDS in the UK
AIDS and HIV are still growing concerns in the UK, despite the advances in treatment and fair rights for sufferers. Each year, there are over 6,000 people diagnosed with HIV in the UK, and 613 AIDS-related deaths were reported in 2014. There is still a lot of negativity about AIDS in the UK. It is through awareness days such as World AIDS Day that we can aim to break these barriers and help those who may be unaware they have HIV to get themselves tested and seek the essential treatment they need.
Free tests are currently being offered in England to help target those who may be living with the disease and are completely unaware of it. These include those who are most at risk of getting HIV and include men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and black African men. An early diagnosis can ensure that critical treatment is provided at an early stage of the disease, allowing those living with HIV to enjoy a life expectancy almost as long as someone without HIV.
‘Think positive’ this World AIDS Day
The focus of this year’s World AIDS Day is ‘Think Positive: Rethink HIV’. The National AIDS Trust hopes to get people to challenge typical stereotypes around AIDS and HIV and get people to become more positive about the disease. There is plenty of rallying to be done using the hashtag #RETHINKHIV on social media, encouraging people to share their stories and experiences.
There are a number of great activities which you can get involved in this World AIDS Day, including the ‘myth-busting bake sale’! People all over the UK are being encouraged to take on a culinary challenge and express 4 myth-busting facts through cake. You can get involved at school at work or anywhere else where you know there’ll be an appetite for cake! There’s also the Positive East’s Red Run for World Aids Day on the 29th of December, and a downloadable quiz to help you host your own quiz night.
Don’t forget you can also wear a red ribbon or add a red ribbon to your social media avatar to show your support.
Further information about AIDS and HIV
Take steps to educate yourself about HIV with these myths and facts from HIV Aware. Remember that AIDS awareness doesn’t start and end on December 1st and fundraising can be done at any time of the year. If you’re concerned about AIDS, the National Aids Trust is a great place to find information and support.