World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day, established in 1988.
On the 1st December each year, people all over the world take the opportunity to unite in the fight against HIV, showing their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died.
Over 100,000 people are living with HIV in the UK. Globally there is an estimated 34 million people who have the virus. Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
HIV stands for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a virus which attacks the body’s immune system – the body’s defence against diseases. When someone is described as living with HIV, they have the HIV virus in their body. Without medication, people with HIV can develop AIDS.
Treatment can keep the virus under control and the immune system healthy. People receiving HIV treatment can live a healthy, active life – although some may experience side effects from the treatment. If HIV is diagnosed later on, treatment is likely to be less effective.
Here are some facts around the virus:
- A quarter of people with HIV in the UK don’t know they are infected.
- For someone diagnosed with HIV today at 35 (the average age of diagnosis in the UK) life expectancy is over 72.
- The most common treatment today for someone diagnosed with HIV early is one or two pills a day.
- Lots of people with HIV work and the disease does not affect their working life.
- HIV is not transmitted through normal everyday contact at work, school or in social situations.
- With the right medical help, 99% of HIV positive women give birth to healthy babies without passing on HIV.
- HIV affects all ages – one in four people living with HIV in the UK are over 50 and last year one in ten people diagnosed were aged 16 to 24.
The red ribbon is the universal symbol of awareness and support for those living with HIV. World AIDS Day is an opportunity to show support to and solidarity with the millions of people living with HIV. Wearing a red ribbon is one simple way to do this. It is also a great opportunity to raise money for National AIDS Trust (NAT) and show your support for people living with HIV. To find out find more information please visit http://www.worldaidsday.org