December 1st was World AIDS Day. Although the red ribbon symbol is widely known, there are probably few people who remember the exact month and day that it takes place. World AIDS Day was first observed in 1988 and was directed by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (below UNAIDS) until 2005 when it was changed to The World AIDS Campaign.
As a side note, the red ribbon wasn’t something decided on by UNAIDS alone. A short while before World AIDS Day was established, an American Christian group made the red ribbon a symbol to eliminate the prejudice and discrimination against AIDS patients.
AIDS, or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, is a symptom induced by HIV infection, but the term doesn’t refer to the HIV infection itself. According to the UNAIDS AIDS Epidemic Update 2009, the number of deaths around the world due to AIDS was 2 million, including both adults and children. The number of people infected with HIV (officially HIV-positive people) is said to be 33.4 million.
The region with the highest number deaths from AIDS and people infected with HIV is sub-Saharan Africa. In 2008, the number of AIDS-related deaths was approximately 1.4 million and 22.4 million people were infected with HIV. In the same year, the HIV positive rate decreased compared to rates from 2001, the sole piece of good news. Following Africa, the region with the next highest number is Asia, which had 300,000 AIDS-related deaths and 4.7 million HIV-infected people in 2008. In 2001, with the former at 280,000 people and the latter at 4.7 million, the rate of infection appeared to be easing compared to the 1990s, however the fact is that it is increasing.
Although there are geographical differences, the main means of transmission is sexual intercourse. UNAIDS is strongly appealing for the necessity of measures in each region. While the details are not written about in a report, it seems that a country’s economic growth relieves the spread of infection. However, it has also been pointed out that the disparity in income may lead to further expansion.
Though the situation is not completely stable, the results from the 22 years of UNAIDS-led activities are promising signs.