World AIDS Day was first observed on December 1, 1988, to bring greater awareness to HIV, as well as to commemorate those affected by the disease. Today, it is regarded as the longest-running disease awareness initiative of its kind in the history of public health.
Since those early years, the epidemic has changed enormously and so, too, has the global agenda. With about 38 million people worldwide who have HIV, universal testing is the main key to halting the number of new infections. Testing will identify all those who need access to treatment, which will help those with HIV live longer and healthier lives.
But with stagnating global contributions and an ever-increasing infection rate in many countries, including Russia and South Africa, one could argue that there has never been a more important time to mark World AIDS Day than now.
World AIDS Day was first conceived as a means to capitalize on a media gap that existed between the U.S. presidential elections of 1988 and Christmas. James Bunn, a broadcast journalist who had recently taken a post at the World Health Organization (WHO), was convinced that audiences could be drawn to the story after nearly a year of non-stop campaign coverage. He and his colleague, Thomas Netter, decided that December 1 was the ideal date and spent the next 16 months designing and implementing the inaugural event.
World AIDS Day themes over the years have mirrored the policy goals of public health authorities, moving from awareness and education to the larger objectives of community and global cooperation.
The 2021 World AIDS Day theme is “End Inequalities, End AIDS”. Central Illinois Friends is hosting events in observance of the day. https://www.friendsofcentralillinois.org/