Each year, millions of people around the world live with HIV or AIDS, some of whom do not have access to proper medical care or treatment that helps them slow or prevent the development of the disease.
Every year on December 1, the World AIDS Campaign partners with several other AIDS awareness organizations to sponsor World AIDS Day to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS and to encourage people everywhere to increase their knowledge of this disease and the people it affects.
The first World AIDS Day was held in 1988 and sponsored by the United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS.) The original intent was to educate people on the spread, nature, and prevention of HIV/AIDS.
Throughout the years, World AIDS Day has become one of the most well-recognized international health days, with countries and religious organizations around the world participating. Public health forums, memorial services, awareness campaigns, fundraisers, and religious meetings are held in communities on every continent to discuss the issue of HIV/AIDS and how to end the epidemic.
The red ribbon, traditionally associated with HIV/AIDS awareness, made its debut at the 1991 Tony Awards. The Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS and Visual AIDS, organizations of Broadway actors, crew, and supporters wanting to raise awareness of the fight against AIDS, introduced the red awareness ribbon.
Since 2007, the World AIDS Campaign is the main sponsor of World AIDS Day, partnering with UNAIDS, the International AIDS Society, the Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS, and many other organizations to sponsor global and local World AIDS Day events.
One of this year's themes for World AIDS Day is "The AIDS Free Generation Is Due in 2017," focusing on eradicating incidents of children born with HIV/AIDS by 2017. According to Join (RED), nearly half a million babies were born with HIV/AIDS in 2011. Although that number has been reduced significantly since the introduction of HIV/AIDS drug AZT in 1994, says the World AIDS Campaign, babies are still being born with HIV/AIDS every day.
Communities around the world will be holding educational workshops, awareness events, and memorial services to honor those who have passed away due to complications from HIV/AIDS. In addition, religious organizations and churches of different faiths will be holding religious seminars on living with HIV/AIDS, and community groups will be holding marches and demonstrations to spread awareness of the lives and struggles for rights for people infected with HIV/AIDS.
In addition, Join (RED) has teamed up with cities around the world and social media outlets to help "turn the world red" on December 1. Throughout Europe, South America, and North America, a total of 47 cities will be turning notable landmarks and historic places red on World AIDS Day in hopes of promoting an AIDS free generation by 2017.
Facebook, Twitter, and foursquare users can also help turn the world red on December 1 in a variety of ways.
Facebook users can upload a 2017 (RED) profile picture to help turn Facebook red for World AIDS Day. Details can be found on Join (RED)'s Facebook page.
Twitter users can attach the hashtag #turnred to any and all tweets on December 1 to turn Twitter red. The content of the tweet does not have to relate to World AIDS Day, HIV/AIDS research or awareness, or anything related to HIV/AIDS. Including the #turnred hashtag will help turn Twitter red for World AIDS Day.
Those using foursquare, the location-based social media utility, can unlock a special (RED) badge by shouting #turnred at any time on December 1.
World AIDS Day, held every year on December 1, is sponsored by numerous organizations to raise awareness of the fight against HIV/AIDS. With awareness, education, and prevention, this year's theme of an AIDS-free generation by 2017 can become a reality through the efforts of people around the world.
Written by Mark Riegel, MD
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