December 1st is marked as World AIDS Day and is celebrated every year to create awareness about the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, aka AIDS. It is a dreadful and also potentially life-threatening condition, the source of which is the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). World AIDS Day is a part of campaigns run by the World Health Organisation (WHO) under the umbrella of ‘global public health’ awareness every year.
Other than the above-mentioned campaign, WHO runs a lot more varied campaigns like World Health Day, World Blood Donor Day, World Immunization Week, World Tuberculosis Day, World No Tobacco Day, World Malaria Day, World Hepatitis Day, World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, and a few more.
In every place, be it a cricket match, or tennis match, or some event, on World AIDS Day people are seen wearing a red ribbon. This red ribbon is a symbol of solidarity and is used to create awareness amongst all. Back in the year 1991, the red ribbon project was launched by the Visual AIDS Artist Caucus to raise awareness about this disease. This visual symbolic use of red ribbon is a manner to exhibit compassion for people suffering from AIDS.
In the years that have passed by, the world has made drastic progress but HIV still remains a major global public health issue. And this year 2020, under the novel coronavirus time, it is facing additional challenges like many other major health issues.
HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and care services are all disturbed especially in the countries where health systems are vulnerable. In the current scenario, where a lot of lockdowns have been imposed, all the doctors and medical professionals are occupied with COVID-19 treatment, this has impacted the essential HIV services and is threatening the lives of these people as well. Any slowing down in the provision of these services will leave many vulnerable populations at greater risk of HIV infection and AIDS-related deaths. Regardless of the situation, the health workers and community representatives are doing their best to keep the services going and have also adopted different innovative ways to overcome this disbalance caused in the services due to COVID-19.
On this Day, the WHO takes this as an opportunity to pay tribute to all the people working to provide HIV services and also offers a message for all the global leaders and citizens to reunite for global solidarity to maintain essential HIV services during COVID 19 period and beyond.
There are four key messages that the WHO has to give on World AIDS Day, 2020:
- Renew our fight to end AIDS.
- Use of innovative HIV services to ensure continuous HIV care.
- Engage and Protect nurses, midwives, and community health workers.
- Prioritize the vulnerable i.e. the Youth and Key Populations.
We can all contribute to the effort to end AIDS and make the world a healthier place.