World AIDS Day Urges People to Rethink HIV

December 1 is a day for people worldwide to unite against HIV

Small businesses step up their support for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness DayDecember 1 marks World AIDS Day each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died.

World Aids Day was the first ever global health day, held for the first time in 1988.

This year, the theme of this day of awareness, “Think Positive: Rethink HIV,” is meant to challenge people to rethink outdated stereotypes, challenge myths and be positive about HIV, with our campaign. AIDS, which stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, is the last step for the HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) infection. In the United States, an estimated one million are living with AIDS and 1 in 6 are unaware of their infection. And from a global standpoint, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that a whopping 35 million people are living with AIDS.

[Related: World AIDS Day: 5 Stories You Should Read About HIV/AIDS Awareness]

According to the World Health Organization, fear of stigma is the main reason why people are reluctant to get tested, disclose their HIV status, and take antiretroviral drugs. Another study found that participants who reported high levels of stigma were more than four times likely to report poor access to care – which contributes to the epidemic. 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 and deadly pandemics in global history.

HIV and AIDS affect African Americans more than any other racial/ethnic group in the United States. However, prevention efforts have helped to maintain stability in the annual number of new HIV infections among African Americans. The statistics still show that about 1 in 16 African American men and 1 in 32 African American women will be diagnosed with HIV in his or her lifetime.

The World Aids Day organization seeks to challenge people’s knowledge of HIV at a Rethink HIV Quiz night, or test their own knowledge online.