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World AIDS Day, 1st December

According to UNAIDS estimates for 2004, there were 35.7 million adults and 2.1 million children living with HIV at the end of 2003, and during the year 4.8 million new people became infected with the virus. Around half of all people who become infected with HIV do so before they are 25 and are killed by AIDS before they are 35. 95% of the total number of people with HIV/AIDS live in the developing world. But HIV still remains a threat to people of all ages and nationalities.

Women, Girls, HIV and AIDS is the theme of the 2004 World AIDS day. Around the world there are many different ways in which HIV and AIDS affect women. Among them are :

  • Transmission. HIV/AIDS has been thought of in the past as a disease mainly affecting gay men or drug users. In fact, in 2004, most HIV infections come from heterosexual sex. And in heterosexual sex, women are more likely to become infected than are men.

  • Mother to child transmission of HIV accounted for 90% of all babies infected in 2003. A drug is cheaply available to greatly reduce the chances of this occurring, but it fails to be provided to many women around the world. HIV can also be transmitted by breast milk, which is easily substituted for artificial alternatives – also, often unavailable.

  • Sexual violence is an issue affecting women everywhere in the world. It can be even more damaging when it involves the transmission, sometimes deliberate, of HIV. A new and alarming phenomenon that has been seen in the past decade is the use of HIV as a weapon of war. In conflict areas such as Rwanda and Kosovo there have been reports of thousands of women being raped and purposely infected with HIV as part of a campaign of 'ethnic cleansing'.

  • Discrimination is an issue which has affected women for many decades. It can impact on their job prospects, their economic and social position, their access to healthcare and education. Women who have HIV may experience discrimination on two fronts, and if the healthcare services discriminate against them, their lives can be shortened as a result.

  • Men are the most common route of HIV transmission to women. In fact, most women infected with HIV have caught the virus from a husband or partner.

In order for HIV to be effectively tackled on an international level, efforts need to be made to

  • End the discrimination against people with HIV and AIDS.

  • Educate people in safer sex and drug use, using appropriate media.

  • Provide condoms freely to people in the developing world.

  • Provide financial and medical assistance so that people with HIV and AIDS can be treated.

Started in 1988, World AIDS Day is not just about raising money, but also about raising awareness, education and fighting prejudice. World AIDS Day is also important in reminding people that HIV has not gone away, and that there are many things still to be done.


The theme for World AIDS Day

Each year there is a particular theme chosen for World AIDS Day, and for the last fourteen years the themes have been as follows:

2004 Women & AIDS

2003 Stigma & Discrimination

2002 Stigma & Discrimination

2001 I care. Do you?

2000 AIDS : Men make a difference

1999 Listen, Learn, Live: World AIDS Campaign with Children & Young People

1998 Force For Change: World AIDS Campaign With Young People

1997 Children Living in a World with AIDS

1996 One World, One Hope

1995 Shared Rights, Shared Responsibilities

1994 AIDS & the Family

1993 Time to Act

1992 Community Commitment

1991 Sharing the Challenge

1990 Women & AIDS

1989 Youth

1988 Communication

The Red Ribbon

The Red Ribbon

The Red Ribbon is an international symbol of AIDS awareness that is worn by people all year round and particularly around world AIDS day to demonstrate care and concern about HIV and AIDS, and to remind others of the need for their support and commitment.

The red ribbon started as a "grass roots" effort, and as a result there is no official red ribbon, and many people make their own. It’s easily done – just use some ordinary red ribbon and a safety pin!

How you can support world AIDS Day

  • By raising awareness of HIV and AIDS in your area.

  • By wearing a red ribbon, and asking others to do the same.

  • Protect yourself - this is the first and best way to stop the spread of HIV.

  • If you are worried - get tested.

At school or work

  • Have a dressing up, down or fancy dress day

  • Put up some posters - get people talking

  • Sell red ribbons

  • Organise a creative writing/poster campaign

  • Set up a debate or a quiz – there’re lots of ideas for topics on our site

  • Cook an international meal or have a cake sale

  • Arrange a sponsored three-legged race or balloon release

  • Get your friends, family, colleagues or pupils to express their feelings and expand their knowledge about AIDS

  • Use your imagination!

Put up a display

Putting up a display, whether at work, school or in a public library or shopping centre or mall, is an excellent way of raising awareness of HIV and creating discussion. There are some posters and booklets on the site on our resource page and these can be downloaded and printed out as part of your display.

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This website is created by Anisul Ashekeen

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