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On 1 December 1988, following the initiative of the World Health Organisation, AIDS Day was started to be celebrated in order to raise awareness among people and reduce prejudice about HIV/AIDS and its consequences.

On this day, all the people of the world are invited to think about the victims of HIV/AIDS. The international symbol of HIV/AIDS awareness is a red ribbon that symbolises moral support for those infected with HIV/AIDS.

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) targets the immune system and weakens people's defense against many infections and some types of cancer that people with healthy immune systems can fight off. As the virus destroys and impairs the function of immune cells, infected individuals gradually become immunodeficient. The most advanced stage of HIV infection is acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), which can take many years to develop if not treated, depending on the individual.
HIV can be transmitted via the exchange of a variety of body fluids from infected people, such as blood, breast milk, semen and vaginal secretions. HIV can also be transmitted from a mother to her child during pregnancy and delivery.


  • HIV continues to be a major global public health issue, having claimed 40.1 million [33.6–48.6 million] lives so far.
  • In 2021, 650 000 [510 000–860 000] people died from HIV-related causes and 1.5 million [1.1–2.0 million] people acquired HIV.
  • There is no cure for HIV infection. However, with increasing access to effective HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care, including for opportunistic infections, HIV infection has become a manageable chronic health condition, enabling people living with HIV to lead long and healthy lives.
  • There were an estimated 38.4 million [33.9–43.8 million] people living with HIV at the end of 2021, two thirds of whom (25.6 million) are in the WHO African Region.

(SPKC, 2022)

More information:
WHO Homepage
The United Nations
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