World AIDS Day 2017: An Event To Raise Awareness Of HIV And AIDS

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December 4, 2017 12:27 By Fabiosa

On December 1st of every year, several organizations and individuals honor the World AIDS Day, an event aimed at raising awareness of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

History of Worlds AIDS Day

The idea was first conceived in 1987 by two officials of the Global Programme on AIDS (now UNAIDS) at the World Health Organization in Switzerland, namely James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter. After it was approved, the first World AIDS Day was observed on December 1st, 1988. The date was chosen because Bunn felt it would receive wider coverage as it preceded the Christmas holidays.

In the beginning, the theme was focused on kids and youths. At the time, most people were more interested in how much this disease affects young people and how they can help alleviate some of the stigma attached to the condition.

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In 1996, following the beginning of operations of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), more attention became drawn to the disease all year round as opposed to just one day.

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World AIDS Day - 5 Facts about the disease

1. HIV infects cells of the immune system

According to the World Health Organization, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) causes a gradual deterioration of the immune system. AIDS (Acquired immune deficiency system) refers to the most advanced stage of HIV.

2. HIV transmission

HIV could be transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse, blood transfusion, contaminated injections (needles/syringes), contaminated surgical equipment, from mother to child via pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.

3. 36.7 million people living with AIDS

WHO 2015 reports showed that 36.7 million are living with the condition worldwide.

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4. Combination antiretroviral therapy

Effective ART helps reduce the amount of virus in the body, so that the immune cells are able to live longer and protect body from infections.

5. Mother to child transmission is almost eliminated

In 2015, almost 8 out of 10 women living with HIV received antiretroviral. Cuba was the first country to report that mother-child transmission has been eliminated. Since then, WHO has declared the same in other countries, such as Armenia, Belarus, and Thailand.

Why does World AIDS Day matter?

A lot of progress has been achieved when it comes to eliminating AIDS in the world. The World AIDS day is aimed at reminding the public and government that the disease has not gone away yet. People are still being diagnosed with HIV every day, and there are many more who need to be educated about the condition.

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In addition, honoring the day also helps raise money to find a cure and also bring attention to the prejudice and stigma that people with the condition go through.

World AIDS Day 2017 - White House

The White House celebrates World AIDS Day with a display of a 28-foot AIDS ribbon on the building's North Portico.

This year, First Lady Melania Trump shared a Facebook post to remember those who have lost their lives and also assured the public that a lot is being done to combat the disease.

While the battle against AIDS goes on all year round, having a day designated to bring awareness and remind the world that the war is not over is very crucial. Hopefully, the goal to eliminate HIV/AIDS in a few years will be realized.

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