World AIDS Day 2021

A series of Red Ribbons placed diagonally to the left on a pink background

End Inequalities. End AIDS. End Pandemics.

World AIDS Day takes place on 1 December each year.

It’s an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.

It is 40 years since the first case of HIV was diagnosed in 1981.

Globally, there are an estimated 38 million people living with HIV. More than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS related illnesses, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

Many people still don’t know the facts about how to protect themselves and others, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for people living with the condition. 

People living with HIV are also more likely to experience poverty, hardship and inequalities.

Marking World AIDS Day shows a genuine commitment to equality and diversity striving to be supportive of people living with HIV.

As we mark 40 years since the first reported cases of HIV-related illnesses and deaths, we can see how far we’ve come since the times when being diagnosed with HIV was a death sentence. Now, 98% of people living with HIV in the UK are on effective treatment and 97% can’t pass the virus on.

Today an estimated 105,200 people live with HIV in the UK. Yet recent research from National AIDS Trust found 63% of the public do not remember seeing or hearing about HIV in the past six months. Only a third said they have sympathy for people living with HIV regardless of how they acquired it.

The survey also found 1 in 5 think people think you can acquire HIV through kissing. Only 16% knew if someone is on effective treatment, they can’t pass HIV on and can expect to live a long and healthy life.

World AIDS Day is the perfect time to find out more about AIDS  and raise much needed awareness about HIV.

World AIDS Day reminds the public and government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.

We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to end the HIV epidemic for good, but we must also continue fighting the stigma still experienced by people living with HIV.

Forty years on we have the tools to end HIV transmissions in the UK - regular HIV testing, prevention information and advice, condom use, general access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and effective treatment which means people living with HIV cannot pass on the virus.

The Red Ribbon is the international symbol of awareness and support for people living with HIV. Wearing a ribbon is a great way to raise awareness and show solidarity on World AIDS Day.

World AIDS Day may be once a year, but you can still support people living with HIV all year round. 

THT Direct helpline for more information

World AIDS Day 2021: the story of HIV today

Why World AIDS Day is important