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World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day. Every year since 1981, December 1 has been observed as World AIDS Day. December 1 has been chosen as World AIDS Day to raise awareness against the spread of the AIDS epidemic and to mourn those who have died from the disease.


The first World AIDS Day was planned in August 1986 in Geneva, Switzerland, by James W. Boone and Thomas Netter, two public information officers at the World Health Organization’s World AIDS Program. Boon and Netter shared their idea with Dr. Jonathan Mann, director of the World AIDS Program, now known as AIDS. Dr. Mann liked the idea and endorsed it, agreeing with the suggestion that World AIDS Day should be observed for the first time on December 1, 1986. Boone, a former San Francisco television broadcaster, recommended December 1. His belief was that long after the US election but before the Christmas holidays, World AIDS Day would be the most publicized by the Western media.

In its first two years, World AIDS Day was aimed at children and young people. In choosing this theme, it was criticized for ignoring certain facts that people of all ages could be infected with HIV, the theme helped to alleviate some of the stigma surrounding the disease and increase recognition of the problem as a family disease.

The United Nations Program on HIV / AIDS (UNAIDS) was launched in 1997, and it assumed responsibility for planning and promoting World AIDS Day. Without focusing on just one day, UNAIDS created the World AIDS Campaign in 1997 to focus on year-round communication, prevention and education. In 2004, the World AIDS Campaign became an independent organization.

Each year, Pope John Paul II conveys a message of congratulations to patients and physicians on World AIDS Day.

In 2016, HIV and AIDS-related NGOs (including Pangea Global AIDS and the AIDS and Rights Alliance for South Africa) launched a campaign to mark World AIDS Day as World HIV Day. They claim that these changes will emphasize issues of social justice, and advances in treatment such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (treatment before the onset of the disease).

In 2006, in the United States, World AIDS Day was marked with a 26-foot (6.5 m) AIDS ribbon on the north porch of the White House building. At that time, President George W. White House aide Steven M. Levine, who has served in the Bush administration, proposed the demonstration through the symbolism of the United States’ promised PEPFAR program to combat the global AIDS epidemic. The White House display, which has now become an annual tradition in the administration of four successive presidents, quickly issued consent.

The eight special days announced by the World Health Organization (WHO) for World Public Health Awareness are:

1. World Health Day,

2. World Blood Donor Day,

3. World Immunization Day,

4. World Tuberculosis Day,

5. World No Tobacco Day,

6. World Malaria Day

7. World Hepatitis Day and

8. World AIDS Day