World AIDS Day, observed on December 1st every year, is an international day dedicated to raising awareness about the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. It is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite and show their support for those living with HIV, commemorate those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses, and advocate for increased efforts to prevent new infections.
Each year, the global AIDS community observes World AIDS Day with activities and events centered around a specific theme. This year, the theme is “Let communities lead.” The intent is to acknowledge the pivotal role that grassroots communities have played in shaping the global AIDS response. They have helped to identify and connect individuals to essential services, break down stigma and discrimination, and provide vital support for those living with HIV. They have also been a critical force in driving the advancements in science that allow for better treatment and care for those living with HIV.
The history of World AIDS Day dates back to 1988 when the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the first global health observance for HIV/AIDS. Since its inception, the AIDS epidemic has transformed from an almost unstoppable pandemic to one of the most critical public health challenges of our time. It is now possible for those living with HIV to live long, healthy lives with regular medical treatment and consistent prevention strategies. However, we must continue to work together to ensure that the global community meets its goals of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
To achieve this goal, it is crucial to ensure that all individuals have access to affordable, high-quality HIV prevention, testing, and treatment services. This is only possible if we make a concerted effort to address the barriers that limit the reach of these lifesaving tools, such as lack of funding and harmful barriers to implementation.
Achieving AIDS-free generations requires that all individuals, regardless of their socioeconomic status or gender identity, have the opportunity to receive the care and support they need. To make this happen, we must create healthcare systems that offer high-quality, culturally and linguistically appropriate, accessible, comprehensive, and integrated prevention, testing, treatment, and care. This must be done by addressing the social drivers of health that are affecting individuals’ ability to obtain and stay on antiretroviral therapy, such as poverty, inadequate housing, food insecurity, and barriers to seeking care.
This World AIDS Day, let’s celebrate the progress we have made, remember those who lost their lives and commit to reaching the goal of zero new HIV infections, zero deaths from AIDS-related illness, and zero discrimination. Join NIH this World AIDS Day to discuss the key factors that remain in our way, such as stigma and discrimination. Find out more about how you can participate here.