World AIDS day and red ribbon

1st December - World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.

Today, many scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment and there are laws to protect people living with HIV. But despite this, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with HIV. World AIDS Day is important as it reminds the public and governments that HIV has not gone away - there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.

Although World AIDS Day is a great opportunity to get the public talking about HIV and put your knowledge into action, we need to remember the importance of raising awareness of HIV all year round.

World AIDS day has a specific topic on global level every year:

• 2011 - Getting to zero
• 2010 - Universal Access and Human Rights
• 2009 - Universal Access and Human Rights
• 2008 - Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise - Lead - Empower - Deliver
• 2007 - Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise - Leadership
• 2006 - Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise - Accountability
• 2005 - Stop AIDS. Keep the promise
• 2004 - Women, Girls, HIV and AIDS
• 2003 - Stigma and Discrimination
• 2002 - Stigma and Discrimination
• 2001 - I care. Do you?
• 2000 - AIDS: Men Make a Difference
• 1999 - Listen, Learn, Live: World AIDS Campaign with Children & Young People
• 1998 - Force for Change: World AIDS Campaign With Young People
• 1997 - Children Living in a World with AIDS
• 1996 - One World. One Hope
• 1995 - Shared Rights, Shared Responsibilities
• 1994 - AIDS and the Family
• 1993 - Act
• 1992 - Community Commitment
• 1991 - Sharing the Challenge
• 1990 - Women and AIDS
• 1989 - Youth
• 1988 - Communication

How you can support World AIDS Day?

Talk about HIV and AIDS, raise people's awareness.

Wear the red ribbon and suggest others to do the same.

Protect yourself and your health - this is the primary and most important way to stop the spread of HIV.

If you think there is a reason - get tested for HIV.

The red ribbon

30 years after the first cases of HIV - the red ribbon is the universal symbol of awareness and support for those living with HIV. People wear them all year, especially around the first December - World AIDS Day, to express their concern about HIV / AIDS and people living with it and to remind others about necessity of their understanding and support.

The red ribbon was the first ever ribbon symbol, inspiring later versions such as the pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness.
In 1991 - a decade after the emergence of HIV - a group of 12 artists gathered to create a visual expression of compassion for people living with, and affected by, HIV; with aim to raise awareness and to get people talking about HIV. They had come up with a simple idea that later became one of the most recognized symbols of the decade - the red ribbon, worn to signify awareness and support for people living with HIV.

They chosen a red color as it is bold and visible - symbolizing passion, a heart and love with the shape that was easy to make and replicate.

In the early days, the artists made the ribbons themselves and distributing them around the New York art scene and dropped them off at theatres but within weeks, world-famous actors starting wearing the red ribbon to award ceremonies such as the Oscars and talking about why it was important. The media also gave support, and within a shortly after the red ribbon symbol became universally recognized.

There is no official shape of a ribbon and, as many people, you can make your own red ribbon. Regardless of any size and shape, the message you send is the same - the message of support and understanding for people living with HIV and AIDS and the care and commitment in the fight against it.

The Red Ribbon continues to be a powerful force in the efforts to increase public awareness of HIV.

What is stigma?

The stigma (social stigma) implies the severe disapproval of, or discontent with, a person on the grounds of characteristics that distinguish them from other members of a society which significantly discredits the person in the eyes of others. Identifying which human differences are salient, and therefore worthy of labeling, stigma may be attached to a person, who differs from social or cultural norms.

What is discrimination?

Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on actual or perceived membership to a certain group or category and restricting members of that group from opportunities that are available to others, leading to the exclusion. Discrimination may involve making the difference in treatment of people based on actual or perceived membership to a group, unfair treatment and denial of rights.

Talking about discrimination means actually talking about basic human rights violations.

AIDS-related stigma and discrimination exist worldwide and refers to prejudice, negative attitudes, abuse and maltreatment directed at people living with HIV and AIDS. The consequences of stigma and discrimination are wide-ranging: being shunned by family, peers and the wider community, poor treatment in healthcare and education settings, an erosion of rights, psychological damage, and a negative effect on the success of HIV testing and treatment. They occur alongside other forms of stigma and discrimination, such as racism, stigma based on physical appearance, homophobia or misogyny and can be directed towards those involved in what are considered socially unacceptable activities such as prostitution or drug use.

Discrimination and stigmatization associated with HIV infection are present from the very beginning of the disease. It emphasized that it is the only disease that manifests itself in three outbreaks:
• Infection with HIV
• Diseases of the side
• Public reaction to the first two
This third 'epidemic' is characterized by fear, ignorance, stigma and discrimination, as well as blaming patients for the disease they carry.

Stigma also interferes with attempts to fight the AIDS epidemic. It can deter governments from taking fast, effective action against the epidemic and it can make individuals reluctant to access HIV testing, treatment and care.