World AIDS Day is celebrated across the globe on December 1 of every year since 1988. It was, in fact, the first world global health day, and now there are various days celebrated to show solidarity for other diseases.
World AIDS Day Aims at 3 Things:
- Fight against HIV as a united force
- Support people who are living with HIV
- Remember those who have died due to the disease
The incidence has grown so much over the last few decades that it has grown to be an epidemic, and hence the theme for 2019 is – “Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic – Community by Community.”
Here are a few observations regarding HIV:
- HIV as a virus was identified in 1984 but since then over 40 million people have died, and there are another 40 million infected people across the globe.
- Given that we do not have a well-established treatment for AIDS, many people still die, especially in developing countries, where lack of awareness has caused the rampant spread of the disease.
- World AIDS Day aims to spread the message about the disease so that prevention and treatment are targeted.
- Originally diagnosed as sexually transmitted disease, there is a lot of stigmas associated with someone diagnosed with the disease, including workplaces refusing to continue to employ them and children discontinued from education.
- So, there is not just a patient-provider angle, but also requires support from government and regulatory bodies in the fight against the disease.
There is a red-colored HIV Awareness Ribbon that most people wear to show support. These can be ordered online in any numbers (even in bulk) so they can be distributed, and the workforce strengthened. This idea, which started with a bunch of friends around 1991 has become so popular that it is even seen in the red-carpet events like Oscar.
World AIDS Day aims to strengthen the fight against HIV and includes the following, which includes the lifecycle of the disease:
- Knowing what causes the disease and how it progresses. It is not true that everyone who is infected with HIV gets full-blown AIDS.
- Prevention methods including safe sex practices, safe blood transfusion methods, avoiding drug use, and anti-HIV drugs.
- Awareness about symptoms including severe weight loss, swollen lymph nodes, unexplained tiredness and lack of energy, fever, and night sweats, etc.
- These symptoms, along with history, should lead one to get tested so that it can be diagnosed and detected in the early stages.
- HIV medications should be discussed with the healthcare provider and support system (family/friends).
- Living with HIV can be emotionally taxing, so becoming a part of social groups and having strong social support is essential.
- An overall approach to healthy living is essential to improve the quality of life.
World AIDS Day is a forum where people with AIDS come together, increase awareness and knowledge, and strive to get the stigma out of the disease and call for a fight to end the disease.