World AIDS Day 2018

December 1, 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day.

World AIDS Day is an international day of awareness, dedicated to educating the populace about the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. The day also mourns those we have lost due to the disease.

World AIDS Day began with two public information officers for the Global Programme on AIDS (now known as UNAIDS) at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter proposed the idea to the program director, Dr. Jonathan Munn who approved and supported its observance on December 1[1]. This date was chosen because Bunn, a former television broadcast journalist, believed it would maximize the coverage of the event by western media as it was long enough after US elections but before the Christmas holidays[2].

Throughout the years, World AIDS Day has had many different themes. In its first two years, the campaigns focused on children and young people as a way to boost recognition of HIV and AIDS as a family disease[3]. Over the years, the themes have evolved in an attempt to include all those affected by HIV and AIDS. Some previous themes include: “Universal Access and Human Rights[4],” “Zero Discrimination[5],” and “I care. Do you?[6]

This year’s theme[7] is “Know Your Status,” as UNAIDS pushes for expanding treatment and ensuring that all living with HIV can lead healthy and productive lives. UNAIDS also emphasizes the importance of HIV testing and their plans to achieve their 90-90-90 targets by 2020[8], which is to have 90% of all people living with HIV know their status, have 90% of people with HIV receive sustained antiretroviral therapy (ART), and have 90% of all people receiving ART achieve viral suppression.

The “Know Your Status” theme is also meant to address barriers that remain with HIV testing, namely, the stigma and discrimination that still deters people from taking an HIV test.

For many, access to a confidential HIV test is not always possible and many people only get tested after becoming ill and symptomatic. Caring Communities encourages everyone to get tested, especially those who participate in high risk activities such as unprotected anal receptive sex or needle sharing.

Caring Communities offers free and confidential HIV screening and testing. We also offer free case management services for those living with HIV. Case managers can assist with things like transportation to medical appointments, help covering medical costs, and assistance with obtaining prescriptions. We make it a priority to continuously reach out to the underserved communities around us to ensure they know their options and how we can help!