On December 1st 1998, the first World AIDS Day was observed, dedicated to raising awareness of the global AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. AIDS has killed more than 25 million people, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history. Despite recent, improved access to antiretroviral treatment and care in many regions of the world, the AIDS epidemic claimed an estimated 3.1 million (between 2.8 and 3.6 million) lives in 2005 of which, more than half a million (570,000) were children.
The concept of a World AIDS Day originated at the 1988 World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programmes for AIDS Prevention. Since then, it has been taken up by governments, international organizations and charities around the world.
From 1988 to 2004, the World AIDS Day was organized by UNAIDS, who, after consultation with other organizations, chose a theme. In 2005 UNAIDS handed over responsibility for World AIDS Day to The World AIDS Campaign (WAC), an independent organisation. For 2005, they chose Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise as the theme for World AIDS days through to 2010. This theme is not specific to World AIDS Day but also to the work WAC does throughout the year. The student element of the campaign, the Student Stop AIDS Campaign (SSAC), is a key part of increasing awareness among young people across the UK.
How did the Red Ribbon come by?
The red ribbon has been an international symbol of AIDS awareness since 1991. The Red Ribbon Project was created by the New York based organisation Visual AIDS, which brought together artists to create a symbol of support for the growing number of people living with HIV in the US.