COMMEMORATED on December 1 annually since 1988, this year marks the 30th anniversary of World Aids Day.
The day itself originated at the 1988 World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programmes for Aids Prevention.
Every year since its inception, bodies under the United Nations banner join campaigns around the specific themes related to HIV/Aids.
This year’s theme aims at breaking the barriers and the stigma that surrounds getting tested for HIV.
According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS), the leading global effort to end Aids as a public health threat by the year 2030, HIV testing is crucial for expanding treatment and ensuring that those living with the disease can live a healthy and productive life.
Despite being a problem 365 days of the year, World Aids Day is an opportunity for the community to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for those living with HIV, and to remember those who have passed on due to the disease.
Many people show solidarity to those affected and effected by HIV by wearing a red ribbon.
The origin of the red ribbon was the Red Ribbon Project, which was created in 1991 by the New York-based Visual Aids Artists Caucus.
Neil McDonald, CEO of Khanya Hospice, which also deals with patients suffering from HIV, said: “It is very important for people to know their status. Once you know your status, you will know that it is not the end of the world and you can get treated and take precautions.
“Before people used to be afraid of getting tested, due to the stigma. Over the years, thanks to constant awareness programmes, people are more open to getting tested. I have witnessed the change happening.
“It is very important for people to know their status, and if positive, they have to take their meds so they can live a long life.”