WORLD Aids Day is on December 1 – with millions of people around the world uniting in the fight against HIV.
Here’s the story behind the significance of the red ribbon.
When is World Aids Day?
World Aids Day takes place on December 1 every year.
The day is seen as an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV and to show support for those living with the illness.
The day also commemorates those who have died from Aids-related illnesses.
Government and health officials, non-governmental organisations and individuals around the world observe the day with an emphasis on Aids prevention education and control.
As of 2017, Aids has killed between 28.9 million and 41.5 million people worldwide, and an estimated 36.7 million people are living with HIV, making it one of the most important global public health issues in recorded history.
When was World Aids Day first celebrated?
World Aids Day was first conceived in August 1987 by James W Bunn and Thomas Netter, two public information officers for the Global Programme on Aids at the World Health Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland.
Bunn and Netter took their idea to Dr Jonathan Mann, Director of the Global Programme on Aids (now known as UNAIDS).
Dr Mann liked the concept, approved it, and agreed with the recommendation that the first observance of World Aids Day should be on December 1 1988.
What is the theme for 2021
The theme of World AIDS Day 2021 is "End inequalities. End AIDS".
There is a special focus on reaching people left behind.
Growing inequalities in access to essential HIV services is being highlighted, World Health Organisation (WHO) said.
Why do people wear a red ribbon?
The red ribbon is the universal symbol of awareness and support for people living with HIV.
Wearing a ribbon is a great way to raise awareness on and during the run up to World Aids Day.
In 1991, a decade after the emergence of HIV, twelve artists gathered in a gallery in New York’s East Village.
They met to discuss a new project for Visual Aids, a New York HIV-awareness arts organisation.
It was there that they came up with what would become one of the most recognised symbols of the decade, the red ribbon, worn to signify awareness and support for people living with HIV.
At the time, HIV was highly stigmatised, and the suffering of communities living with HIV remained largely hidden.
The artists wanted to create a visual expression of compassion for people living with HIV.
They took inspiration from the yellow ribbons tied on trees to show support for the US military fighting in the Gulf War.
Additionally, they decided that the elegant loop of the ribbon shape was easy to make and replicate.
The Labour MP for Brighton Kempton Lloyd Russell-Moyle grabbed the headlines on November 29 with a historic speech in the House of Commons saying he was HIV positive.
They avoided traditional colours associated with the gay community, such as pink and rainbow stripes, because they wanted to convey that HIV was relevant to everyone.
They chose red for its boldness, and for its symbolic associations with passion, the heart and love.
At the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, held at London’s Wembley Stadium on Easter Sunday 1992, more than 100,000 red ribbons were distributed among the audience, with performers such as George Michael wearing one.
MPs will also be seen wearing the red ribbon in the run up to World Aids Day.
During an appearance on The X Factor final, singer Tom Walker wore a red ribbon as he performed with Antony Russell.
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