Each year, 1st December marks international World AIDS Day; it is an opportunity for people around the world to spread awareness, show support for those living with HIV and to remember those who have died from the disease. 1st December not only marked the first ever World AIDS Day, but also the first ever global health day.

There is presently an estimated 34 million people who have HIV across the world, and in the UK alone, more than 100,000 people are currently living with HIV. The virus was only discovered in 1984, and since then more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS. Based on these figures, it is one of the most destructive diseases in history.

What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?

One of the most common mistakes to make is to assume that those with HIV automatically have AIDS – this is not the case. HIV is a virus that may cause an infection, whereas AIDS is a syndrome or condition. If a person is HIV positive this can lead to them contracting AIDS, due to the virus causing serious damage to their immune system. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus and AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.

How can I participate in World AIDS Day?

World AIDS Day is an annual reminder not only for the public, but also for the Government, that HIV has not been cured. Despite scientific advances in HIV treatment over the last 40 years, there is still approximately 6,000 people diagnosed with HIV in the UK each year. World AIDS Day is the ideal occasion to not only raise awareness, but also to show your support for the millions of people worldwide who are currently living with HIV. The simplest way is to buy a red ribbon, and wear it with pride.