Today marks World AIDS Day, and despite some progress, 33.3 million people still live with HIV/AIDS. Besides the physical effects of HIV, positive individuals also face significant stigma, discrimination, and a lack of healthcare. For this reason, the World Health Organization (WHO) today is calling on the global community to focus on protecting the human rights of all those with HIV. According to WHO Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan, the populations that are most at risk for HIV infection, including gay men and transgender individuals, are often the people who have the least access to AIDS prevention, treatment, and care services. Often, HIV-related stigma and discrimination prevents those suffering from seeking the care they need. These people should be able to find health services where they feel safe and are ensured non-judgmental care. As we start off on a new decade, we as a global community need to address the laws, policies, and regulations that increase HIV vulnerability while blocking needed health services or infringing on individuals’ liberties. “Today, I call on all sectors to protect human rights, including the right to health, and to combat discrimination,” said Dr. Chan.
There are several things you can do to commemorate World AIDS Day. Wearing a red ribbon, of course, is the simplest way to spark awareness. In addition you could raise funds by passing a red ribbon collection box around your work, school, or community center, as well as sign e-petitions for groups like the National AIDS Trust online. The World AIDS Campaign is also calling on people to show support for those living with HIV/AIDS to wear a red ribbon.
In addition, several cities around the world will also host their own AIDS Day events. For instance, Toronto, Canada, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network film screening: Consent: HIV Non-Disclosure and Sexual Assault Law, while all the way in Yerevan, Armenia, they’ll hold a commemorative march called “Silence is Not a Solution.” Other countries taking part include Barbados, Belgium, France, Egypt, and India.
Click here to find an event near you! Wherever you are, though, keep a lookout for the landmarks. Iconic spots like Sydney’s Opera House and New York’s Empire State building will be going red for World AIDS Day, too!