World AIDS Day takes place on December 1st every year, founded in 1988 being the first ever Global Health Day. This day is important because it reminds people that HIV hasn’t gone away and there’s still a need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education on the topic. 

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the last of the three stages of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), it occurs when the immunodeficient system is very damaged because of the virus. HIV is a virus that attacks cells that help the body fight infection, making a person more vulnerable to other infections and diseases, according to HIV.gob. There is no cure, but it is treatable with medicine. The only way to know and be sure if you have HIV is by getting tested.

The virus can be transmitted through contact with infected blood, by unprotected sexual contact, by mother to baby, by pregnancy, labour, or nursing. The stages of the virus are Acute HIV Infection, some people have flu-like symptoms, while others may feel nothing at all; Chronic HIV Infection or Asymptomatic HIV Infection or Clinical Latency, people can transmit HIV in this phase; and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.

The universal symbol of awareness and support for people living with HIV is a red ribbon. Wearing a ribbon is a great way to raise awareness on and during the run-up to World AIDS Day. 

World AIDS Day maybe once a year, but you can still support people living with HIV all year round. You can always donate to ACT, which works to reduce new HIV infections in Toronto and promotes the independence, dignity, health and well-being of people living with HIV and AIDS and those at increased risk of HIV, or enter the volunteer program. And raising awareness with people around you; your friends, family, at your workplace.