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Since its inception in 1988 as the first ever-global health day, World AIDS Day takes place on the 1st of December every year and is organised by the National AIDS Trust (NAT).
The awareness campaign serves as an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show their support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus, which attacks the body’s immune system – the body’s defence against diseases. If an individual is described as ‘living with HIV’, it means that they have been contaminated with the HIV virus and it is in their system. Without being detected and properly medicated, the HIV virus can develop into AIDS.
According to the latest figures, HIV diagnoses in Ireland grew by 8% in 2018, despite an overall decline in rates of new cases across the European Union. Whereas in the UK, diagnosis rates dropped by 6% in the same year, despite there being an estimated 7,800 undiagnosed cases of HIV.
AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is a collection of symptoms that is caused by the HIV virus. AIDS is diagnosed when an individual’s immune system is too weak to fight off infection due to the effects of the HIV virus. AIDS is known as the final stages of HIV, when the infection is very advanced, and if left untreated, leads to death.
In the UK and Ireland, most cases of HIV are transmitted via sexual intercourse. A person with HIV can pass the virus on to others even if they don't have any symptoms and it is more likely that they will pass it on in the weeks following their infection. Other ways of transmitting the HIV virus include; sharing needles, during childbirth or breastfeeding and blood transfusions.
Although there is no cure for HIV, life expectancy for individuals with the virus has improved rapidly over the past 20 years. This is due to modern treatments being able to keep the virus under control and the immune system healthy. Individuals receiving HIV treatment can live a healthy and active life but it needs to be detected as soon as possible, as treatment in the later stages is likely to be less effective.
According to NAT, 1 in 5 people living with HIV say they need help in combating loneliness. And a further three-quarters of people living with HIV who report loneliness and isolation say they haven’t been able to find that help.
As a result, NAT are asking the public to ‘Rock the Ribbon’ for World AIDS Day 2019 to “stand in solidarity with people living with HIV, raise awareness, challenge stigma, end loneliness and isolation, and insist peer support is available for anyone who needs it.”
If you want to show your support for World AIDS Day, you can order your red ribbons via the NAT online store and provide funds for their vital work in the process.
If you are planning on fundraising for NAT at work or in your local community, you can request free red ribbons with a display and collection box.
Alternatively, you can spread the word on social media by sharing the hashtags #RockTheRibbon and #WorldAIDSDay. You can also find a collection of digital posters and social media graphics via the World AIDS Day campaign website.
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