Established to provide a platform for governments, organisations, and individuals to raise awareness and take action against HIV/AIDS, World AIDS Day is observed every year on December 1 to unite people across geographical boundaries in the fight against the pandemic.
The day was designated first in August 1988 by James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter, the public information officers for the AIDS Global Program of the World Health Organisation, to get some semblance of control over the pandemic that had claimed the lives of so many people.
On this day, according to the United Nations, people show support for people living with and affected by HIV and to remember those who lost their lives to AIDS.
HIV is the virus that leads to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). This virus harms the immune system, making it difficult for the body to defend against infections and cancer.
Nearly 43 years ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on June 5, 1981, reported an unusual fungal infection of the lungs (pneumocystis carinii pneumonia) in five gay men in Los Angeles, City in California. That was the first time the world got information about the devastating infection caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in people with a weak immune system.
A person suffering from AIDS is unfortunately often regarded as a stigma in the contemporary society and such people often become victims of ostracism, rejection and discrimination. There is need to fight this aspect of the pandemic.
Social stigma surrounding AIDS-infected people remains a challenge and the concerned must remain mindful of the scale. There is need for taking measures on a corresponding scale to ensure dignified life for the affected. Removing stigma is also important to ultimately fight against the ‘silent killer’ as affected persons will only come forward for testing and treatment once they feel no kind of segregation from the society.
Tackling HIV seriously also requires other interventions. The administration must find ways to reach concerned groups and consider targeted interventions. Continuous awareness about how it is transmitted and the right kind of treatment to affected persons is bound to prove productive in combating the disease to a larger extent.
As rightly put by WHO, World AIDS Day is an opportunity to reflect on the progress made to date, raise awareness about the challenges that remain to achieve the goals of ending AIDS by 2030 and mobilize all stakeholders to jointly redouble efforts to ensure the success of the HIV response.