World AIDS Day, first observed in 1988, is observed annually on December 1. World AIDS Day is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic and commemorating those who have died as a result of the disease. Since 1981, an estimated 40 million people have died from AIDS, and an estimated 37 million are living with HIV, making it one of the most serious global public health concerns in recorded history. Despite recent advances in therapy, the AIDS epidemic continues to claim an estimated two million lives each year, with more than 250,000 of them being children.


World AIDS Day, first recognized on December 1, 1998, was the first time a worldwide health day was observed. The day provides an occasion for people all over the world to unite in the battle against HIV and stand in solidarity with those who are infected, as well as remember those who have died as a result of the disease.

The concept of World AIDS Day developed from a media void between the United States presidential elections in 1988 and Christmas. Broadcast journalist James Bunn, who had recently joined the World Health Organization, anticipated that after a year of political campaigns, the public would be drawn to AIDS coverage on television. Bunn and his colleague Thomas Netter determined that December 1 was the best date for the commemoration and spent the next 16 months preparing and executing the inaugural event.


1) Wear a red ribbon

The most widely recognized way to show your support on World AIDS Day is to wear a red ribbon on your lapel. Red represents blood and the pain caused by the disease, rage over global inaction to combat the epidemic, a warning to take the disease seriously, and love, passion, and tolerance for those affected by the disease. Look for a ribbon supplier who supports a charitable cause online.

2) Donate to an AIDS charity

There are numerous national and worldwide nonprofit organizations dedicated to combating the disease and the challenges linked with its spread. Check online to see if you want to support an organization in the United States, where deaths have been declining since the mid-1990s but infection continues to affect thousands of people each year, or an organization focused on infection in Sub-Saharan Africa, where Adult HIV Prevalence has reached one in every twenty people and 1.2 million people die of HIV/AIDS each year.

3) Attend a candlelight vigil

On World AIDS Day, most large cities in the United States have candlelight vigils to remember those who have died from the disease and to pledge to battle it in the future. Look online for a vigil near you and go to express your support. Don't forget to share your experience on social media to keep the notion at the forefront of your friends' minds and to show your support.



1) AIDS impacts everyone

Some criticized World AIDS Day in its early years for focusing on children and young people, but organizers hoped to remove some of the stigma surrounding the disease as predominantly affecting homosexual men, increasing acknowledgment of it as a family disease. HIV/AIDS is the main cause of death among women of reproductive age worldwide, with women accounting for 43% of the 1.8 million new HIV infections in 2016.

2) Getting to zero

Since 2012, the World AIDS Day theme has been zero new HIV infections, zero deaths from AIDS-related illnesses, and zero discrimination. In 2016, new infections among young women aged 15 to 24 were 44% higher than among men in the same age group, implying that the high-profile AIDS-related deaths of male celebrities like Freddie Mercury, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Rock Hudson have continued to overshadow realities of new infection rates among women in the public imagination. The goal of World AIDS Day is to combat these stereotypes and safeguard everyone.

3) Equalizing access to treatment

According to research, stigma linked with sex work and LGBT communities is a growing factor in unequal access to good treatment around the world. International AIDS funding began to decline for the first time in 2015, while less than half of HIV/AIDS patients worldwide have access to anti-retroviral medication. It has never been more necessary to raise attention to treatment disparities in order to permanently halt its spread.