World AIDS Day: The Global Response

World AIDS Day: The Global Response

The Origins

World AIDS Day was first observed in 1988. Each year on December 1, communities around the world come together to remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS.  The day is in commemoration of those fighting the disease in their daily lives. The theme for World AIDS Day 2020 was “Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Resilience and Impact.”

The first cases of HIV/AIDS originated in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the 1920s. Since then, the autoimmune disease spread to every corner of the world, with a major focus in South Africa. In 2019, approximately 38 million people globally, were living with HIV/AIDS, including 1.5 million children under the age of 15. Roughly 7.7 million of all HIV/AIDS infections were documented in South Africa, and about 20.4% of all South Africans are currently living with the disease. About 70% of all South Africans infected with HIV/AIDS are on treatment. However, only 67% of those infected around the world had access to medication needed to slow its spread.

South Africa: A Hotspot for the Epidemic

After 100 years of research on HIV/AIDS, South Africa is still a hotspot for the epidemic since it first originated. The South African government made a toolkit available to its citizens. The toolkit includes extensive knowledge of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, ads, logos, and merchandise, and ways to get involved with World AIDS Day 2020. They also came up with a theme, specific to South Africa: “We’re in this together, Cheka Impilo!” The toolkit provides basic information on ways to slow the spread of AIDS, including having protected sex and avoiding drugs. The toolkit encourages South African citizens to hold sessions dedicated to educating their communities. Furthermore, the toolkit encourages citizens to learn the dangers of the transmission of AIDS, submit letters to local newspapers, or encourage radio stations to make public service announcements.

What is Being Done to Help?

The World Health Organization (WHO) took World AIDS Day 2020 to call on leaders around the world to renew the fight against HIV/AIDS; to protect those working on the front lines of the HIV/AIDS epidemic; to ensure that when distributing care, we prioritize the most vulnerable communities, including the impoverished and children. They are also ensuring the use of new technology and services to ensure the best care is being provided around the world.

In the United States, individuals looking to get involved can use resources from the Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign. Previously known as the Act Against AIDS, the campaign primarily works to educate North Americans on the prevention, testing, and treatment of HIV, and to destigmatize HIV through these means. The website provides educational videos on the prevention and testing of HIV. In addition, they give plentiful resources to help individuals find their closest testing location.

On December 1, the world paused in observance of World AIDS Day 2020. They stopped to remember the 33 million lives lost, and 78 million lives impacted by the autoimmune disease. The World Health Organization took time to call on leaders from all countries to step up in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Jessica Lyn
Photo: Public Domain Pictures