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World AIDS Day 2016: Activists Urge Testing, Education

Across the globe, approximately 34 million people suffer from HIV/AIDS, including more than 1.2 million who live in the U.S.

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    AP
    Two Thousand candles were lit in memory of victims of AIDS on World AIDS Day Thursday, Dec. 1. 2016 at Gammeltorv Square in Copenhagen, Denmark.

    Dec. 1 marks World AIDS Day. It's a time to remember over 35 million people who have died from the disease since the early-1980s and show support for those who are struggling with it now. It's also a chance for health organizations and charities to raise awareness about testing and treatment.

    In the United Kingdom, activists are spreading the message that HIV stigma is “not retro, just wrong.” The U.S. World AIDS Day theme for 2016 is “Leadership. Commitment. Impact,” and the United Nations launched the “Hands up for #HIVprevention” awareness campaign, emphasizing the importance of protecting at-risk demographics like young women and girls. 

    Across the globe, approximately 34 million people suffer from HIV/AIDS, including more than 1.2 million who live in the United States. 

    A red ribbon is a universal symbol of support and solidarity for those living with HIV or AIDS. Here's how organizations are raising awareness and money to help combat AIDS: 

    World Health Organization
    For World AIDS Day, the UN agency is advocating that health organizations should make self-testing equipment more readily available. About 14 million people around the world don’t know they have the disease -- one in eight AIDS survivors in the U.S. goes undiagnosed.

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    Self-testing allows individuals to check their HIV/AIDS status. If they do get a positive test result, they can then explore much-needed medical resources that will improve their standard of living and protect others from infection.

    According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are two types of self-HIV tests: the Home Access HIV-1 Test System and the OraQuick In-home HIV test. You can buy a self-testing kit at drug stores like Walgreens and Rite Aid. 

    (RED)
    When U2’s Bono and activist Bobby Shriver founded (RED) in 2006, they were bent on eradicating HIV/AIDS in Africa. Since then, they’ve raised $365 million for grants to provide survivors with anti-retroviral treatments that can cost as little as 30 cents a day, but that still aren’t accessible to about 18 million people suffering from the disease.

    This World AIDS Day, (RED) has partnered with companies to raise money for the Global Fund to Help Fight AIDS. For every handcrafted holiday drink purchased today, Starbucks will donate 25 cents to the cause. Profits from 20 Apple games sold on the iTunes app store are also going toward AIDS prevention, and New Yorkers can swing by the (BANK OF AMERICA)RED pop-up in Bryant Park to buy holiday gifts through Dec. 4.

    According to (RED)’s website, “Bank of America will donate $1 for every purchase made with a Bank of America card using Apple Pay, up to $1M” beginning on Dec. 1. This contribution will be doubled by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has promised to match the money raised by (RED) this year, up to $78 million.

    AIDS.gov
    This World AIDS Day, the website’s team is asking Americans to educate themselves about the HIV/AIDS epidemic and how it manifests in the U.S. They’ve put together a resource page for readers to peruse, including links to the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, a timeline of HIV/AIDS, and information about the Affordable Care Act, which has provided coverage to survivors who couldn’t find insurance before because of their pre-existing condition.