World AIDS Day is held on the 1st December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day, held for the first time in 1988.
Over 1.2 Million people are living with HIV in the US. Globally there are an estimated 34 million people who have the virus. Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
Today, scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. Despite this, each year in the US around 50,000 people are diagnosed with HIV, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with the condition.
World AIDS Day is important because it reminds the public and Government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.
In Seattle there are many local organizations who help those living with HIV and AIDS. You can support these charities by making donations, volunteering, and more. Here is a short list of some of the organizations making a difference in our community:
BABES Newtork – YWCA (http://www.babesnetwork.org)
BABES Network-YWCA is a peer-based program, a sisterhood of women facing HIV together. BABES reduces isolation, promotes self-empowerment, enhances quality of life and serves the needs of women facing HIV and their families through peer support, advocacy, education and outreach.
Gay City Health Project (http://www.gaycity.org)
Gay City Health Project is a multicultural gay men’s health organization located in Seattle, WA and the premiere provider of HIV and STD testing in King County. Our mission is to promote the health of gay and bisexual men and prevent HIV transmission by building community, fostering communication, and nurturing self-esteem.
Lifelong AIDS Alliance (http://www.lifelongaidsalliance.org)
Lifelong AIDS Alliance is committed to preventing the spread of HIV, and to providing practical support services and advocating for those whose lives are affected by HIV and AIDS.
Seattle HIV Vaccine Trials Unit (http://www.seattlevaccines.org)
The Seattle HIV Vaccine Trials Unit (HVTU) is a program of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in collaboration with the University of Washington. The Seattle HVTU is a local site for the HIV Vaccine Network (HVTN) —an international effort to test and find an HIV vaccine that will work safely in diverse populations worldwide.