World AIDS Day is observed on 1st December every year since 1988. It aims to increase awareness of the disease, fight the stigma associated with it, improve HIV education, mourning those who have died of the disease and mobilize resources for the global response to the epidemic.
The theme for the 2016 World Aids day is Hands up for #HIVprevention
World AIDS Day is one of the eight official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organization(WHO). The red ribbon is the global symbol for solidarity with HIV-positive people and those living with AIDS.
Millions of people are vulnerable to HIV infection, and AIDS remains a leading cause of death among women of reproductive age and young adolescents. Stigma and discrimination continue to impede the realization of people’s rights, including access to essential information and services to prevent and treat HIV.
World AIDS Day was first conceived in August 1987 by James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter, two public information officers for the Global Programme on AIDS at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Bunn and Netter took their idea to Dr. Jonathan Mann, Director of the Global Programme on AIDS (now known as UNAIDS). Dr. Mann liked the concept, approved it, and agreed with the recommendation that the first observance of World AIDS Day should be on 1 December 1988. Bunn, a former television broadcast journalist from San Francisco, had recommended the date of 1 December that believing it would maximize coverage of World AIDS Day by western news media, sufficiently long following the US elections but before the Christmas holidays.
In its first two years, the theme of World AIDS Day focused on children and young people. While the choice of this theme was criticized at the time by some for ignoring the fact that people of all ages may become infected with HIV, the theme helped alleviate some of the stigma surrounding the disease and boost recognition of the problem as a family disease.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) became operational in 1996, and it took over the planning and promotion of World AIDS Day. Rather than focus on a single day, UNAIDS created the World AIDS Campaign in 1997 to focus on year-round communications, prevention and education. In 2004, the World AIDS Campaign became an independent organization.
Each year, Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have released a greeting message for patients and doctors on World AIDS Day.
In the US, the White House began marking World AIDS Day with the iconic display of a 28-foot AIDS Ribbon on the building’s North Portico in 2007. The display, now an annual tradition, quickly garnered attention, as it was the first banner, sign or symbol to prominently hang from the White House since the Abraham Lincoln administration.