World AIDS Day occurs every year on December 1. It is an internationally observed event that raises awareness on the AIDS pandemic. This day is part of the eleven global public health campaigns conducted by the UN that occur every year.
Since the inception in 1988, World AIDS Day has followed a theme every year. The theme for 2020 is ‘Global solidarity, shared responsibility’. In a press statement, UNAIDS executive director Winnie Byanyima expressed the need for shared responsibility. The coronavirus pandemic and many instances of inequality around the world calls for global solidarity. Despite many groups left vulnerable during the pandemic, affected communities and HIV activists have assisted people financially and organizing medicine deliveries. Winnie Byanyima says “Friends, in responding to COVID-19, the world cannot make the same mistakes it made in the fight against HIV, when millions in developing countries died waiting for treatment.”
World AIDS Day was initially a global health programme at the WHO in Switzerland. Conceived by James Bunn and Thomas Netter, this programme was taken up by Dr. Jonathan Mann who is the director of what is now known as UNAIDS. Since then, many AIDS campaigns have been organized around the world, thus breaking the stigma around it and increasing awareness.
AIDS is responsible for 32.7 million deaths across the world according to statistics by UNAIDS. In 2019, 30.8 million people were living with AIDS. Among the many people who died due to AIDS were Freddie Mercury, the front man for the band Queen and eminent science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. In order to spread awareness about this disease and provide assistance to those living with it, it is necessary to educate oneself about AIDS. Many non profit organizations and charities help in spreading awareness and being an active part of the cause to reduce the number of deaths occurring due to AIDS.