World AIDS Day 2018 #KnowYourStatus
Today, 1st December 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) joins global partners and citizens to commemorate AIDS Day under the theme 'Know Your Status'.

This is also an occasion to celebrate the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day- a pioneering global health campaign first initiated by WHO in 1988.

WHO advocacy and communication for World AIDS Day 2018 will aim to achieve the following objectives:

1. Urge people to know their HIV infection status through testing, and to access HIV prevention, treatment and care services.

2. Urge policy-makers to promote a “health for all” agenda for HIV and related health services, such as tuberculosis (TB), hepatitis and noncommunicable diseases.

At the beginning of the 1980s, before HIV had been identified as the cause of AIDS, the infection was thought to only affect specific groups, such as gay men in developed countries and people who inject drugs.

The HIV virus was first isolated by Dr Francoise Barre-Sinoussi and Dr Luc Montagnier in 1983 at the Institut Pasteur. In November that year, WHO held the first meeting to assess the global AIDS situation and initiated international surveillance.

In 1988, two WHO communications officers, Thomas Netter and James Bunn, put forward the idea of holding an annual World AIDS Day, with the aim of increasing HIV awareness, mobilising communities and advocating for action worldwide.

It wasn't until 1991 that the HIV movement was branded with the iconic red ribbon. This was the very first disease-awareness ribbon, a concept that would later be adopted by many other health causes.

Clinical trials of antiretrovirals (ARVs) began in 1985-the same year that the first HIV test was approved and the first ARV was approved for use in 1987. By 1995, ARVs were being prescribed in various combinations.

Generic manufacturing of ARVs started in 2001 providing bulk, low-cost access to ARVs for highly affected countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where by 2000, HIV had become the leading cause of death.

1. HIV continues to be a major global public health issue, having claimed more than 35 million lives so far.

2. In 2017, 9,40,000 people died from HIV-related causes globally.

3. There were approximately 36.9 million people living with HIV at the end of 2017 with 1.8 million people becoming newly-infected in 2017 globally.

4. The WHO African Region is the most affected region, with 25.7 million people living with HIV in 2017.

5. The African region also accounts for over two thirds of the global total of new HIV infections.

6. Key populations often have legal and social issues related to their behaviours that increase vulnerability to HIV and reduce access to testing and treatment programmes.

7. Between 2000 and 2017, new HIV infections fell by 36%, and HIV-related deaths fell by 38 per cent with 11.4 million lives saved due to ART in the same period.

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