Today, December 1st, we celebrate World AIDS Day. This day is honored as a way to remember those who lost their lives to HIV/AIDS, as well as to hold space for those currently living with the virus.
The first World AIDS Day was honored in 1988, making the event the first-ever global health day. World AIDS Day is an opportunity for people worldwide — whether you’ve been personally affected by the virus or not — to show support and unity for those fighting against HIV/AIDS, as well as those who lost their lives.
“On 1 December WHO is calling on global leaders and citizens to rally for ‘global solidarity’ to maintain essential HIV services during COVID 19 and beyond – and to ensure continued provision of HIV services for children, adolescents and populations most at risk for the disease,” reads a statement released by the World Health Organization “Protecting people from HIV during the pandemic, and ensuring they can maintain treatment, is critical. Researchers are currently investigating whether people with HIV have an increased risk of poor outcomes with COVID-19.”
There are a current estimated 38 million people living with HIV/AIDS around the world. In the United States, there are nearly 1.2 million people living with it. Despite the virus only being recognized in 1984, it has so far taken the lives of over 35 million people.
We honor World AIDS Day because it is a reminder that HIV/AIDS has not gone away, and that there is still a vital need to raise money and awareness for the cause, as well as to improve education around the virus.
“Health is a human right,” says UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “Health must be a top investment priority to achieve universal health coverage. On this World AIDS Day let us recognize that, to overcome COVID-19 and end AIDS, the world must stand in solidarity and share responsibility.”