World AIDS Day is a day dedicated to raising awareness about HIV and how it is spread. It is also a day for people to unite together against the virus, commemorate those who have died and show their support for people who may currently have the disease. It is observed on December 1st by private citizens, governmental agencies and health agencies around the world.
History of World AIDS Day
The concept of World AIDS Day was thought of by Thomas Netter and James Bunn during the summer of 1987. They conceived it as a day that would help bring attention to the HIV virus and help dispel some of the myths about the disease and the people who contract it. They eventually ended up giving their idea to Doctor Jonathan Mann – who at the time was the Director of the Global Programme on AIDS. He immediately approved the idea and set a recommendation that the first World AIDS Day should occur on December 1st, 1988. This date was chosen because Dr. Mann felt that the date allowed the day to get the media attention it deserved. It was long enough after the elections to not be sidelined by political news and it was long enough before Christmas to not be sidelined by talk about the Christmas season.
During the first two years of its operation, World AIDS Day received quite a bit of criticism about featuring children as the theme for the first year and young adults as the theme of the second year. Many critics felt that this decision ignored the fact that people of all ages and backgrounds can contract this disease. However, it turned out to be a sound decision because it erased a lot of the stigma surrounding the disease and showed the general public that this wasn’t just a disease of not only gay men but one that could affect families as well.
Since 1995, each United States President has made a proclamation about World AIDS Day. In 1996, the Global Programme on Aids became the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV & AIDS and immediately took over the promotion and planning of World AIDS Day. It was decided at that time that this one day shouldn’t just be the focus of their efforts, but the efforts of prevention and promotion should occur all year round. Eight years later, the World AIDS Campaign became an independent organization.
World AIDS Day Customs & Celebrations
People can observe World AIDS Day in a number of different ways. They can get a red ribbon from the World AIDS Day website. They can also visit one of the events thrown by private citizens, health and governmental agencies and by various businesses on this day. For many organization and agencies, December is celebrated as World AIDS Month.