World Aids Day has the goal of increasing awareness and education of HIV/Aids and also fighting prejudice. World Aids Day is a concept created by James W Bunn and Thomas Netter for the World Health Organization's (WHO) Global Programme on Aids and was first observed on 1 December 1988.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids (UNAids) – like the WHO also based in Geneva, Switzerland – came into existence in 1996 and took over the promotion and planning of World Aids Day, with the focus shifting from a single day to a year-long campaign of education, prevention and communication. UNAids estimates that there are currently 33.5 million people worldwide living with HIV, and during 2008 almost 2.7 million people became newly infected, with an estimated 2 million individuals dying of Aids.
Each year World Aids Day heralds the start of a new theme as chosen by the World Aids Campaign’s Global Steering Committee and for 2009 it was "Universal Access and Human Rights". Since 1 December 2009 Universal Access has addressed the worldwide commitment made to increase access to prevention, treatment, care and support and also served to refocus attention on the Millennium Development Goal of halting and reversing the Aids epidemic. The ongoing UNAids framework to encourage achievement of the results necessary to reach the ambitious targets set and "Keep the Promise" made in years past encompasses priority areas including:
This year (2010) sees the continuing theme of "Universal Access and Human Rights" together with the "Keep the Promise" focus introduced in 2005. Additionally the "Light for Rights" campaign will continue to highlight the human rights we all share, and the newly introduced "Act Aware" programme will motivate people to make a personal commitment to help improve understanding of HIV, prevent transmission and stop prejudice.
It can only benefit us all that World Aids Day serves to encourage individuals, communities, businesses and nations to take personal and collective responsibility to provide care, support and treatment for those living with HIV, and also provide the means and information necessary to prevent new infections occurring.