World AIDS Day 2022

Rock the Ribbon poster of Lea Suwanna, a woman living with HIV for 19 years. HIV is undetectable due to medication she is taking.

Today, more than 105,000 people live with HIV in the UK.

World AIDS Day is observed on 1 December. It was first observed in 1988, as an international day of awareness to unite communities to help end HIV and remember those lost to AIDS-related illnesses. It aims to stop new cases of HIV, secure the rights of people living with HIV, and fight HIV stigma and discrimination.

This year’s theme encourages people to unite globally to eliminate the disparities and inequities that create barriers to HIV testing, prevention, and access to HIV care.

Recent research from the National AIDS Trust found that 63 per cent of the British public does not remember seeing or hearing about HIV in the past six months, this is despite the large number of people living with HIV in the UK, thanks to medical advances,

What’s more, only a third said they have sympathy for people living with HIV, regardless of how they acquired it.

Shockingly there remains a high level of ignorance, with misinformation about HIV and how it is transmitted, with one in five people wrongly believing that you can acquire HIV through kissing. Only 16 per cent knew if someone is on effective treatment, they cannot pass HIV on and can expect to live a long and healthy life.

World AIDS Day is the perfect time to wear a Red Ribbon, speak out and continue to share the facts about HIV. 

What are HIV and AIDS?

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that affects the cells in your immune system and weakens your ability to fight everyday infections and diseases.

AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is the name used to describe several potentially life-threatening infections and illnesses that happen when your immune system has been severely damaged by the HIV virus. The two are often confused, but AIDS always comes after HIV.

While AIDS cannot be transmitted between people, HIV can. However, early diagnosis and effective drug treatments can stop people from passing the virus on and live a near-normal lifespan. The 'Undetectable = Untransmittable' (U=U) is a brilliant campaign which explains how the sexual transmission of HIV can be stopped.

Sadly, progress in prevention and treatment is faltering around the world, putting millions of people in grave danger. Eastern Europe and central Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa have all seen increases in annual HIV infections over several years. In Asia and the Pacific, UNAIDS data now show new HIV infections are rising where they had been falling. Action to tackle the inequalities driving AIDS is urgently required to prevent millions of new HIV infections this decade and to end the AIDS pandemic. 

World AIDS Day remains as relevant today as it has always been, reminding people and governments that HIV has not gone away. There is still a critical need for increased funding for the AIDS response, to increase awareness of the impact of HIV on people’s lives, to end stigma and discrimination and to improve the quality of life of people living with HIV.

For more information

2022 Global AIDS Update

Diverse group of people holding placards against discrimination