December 1 marks the 25th anniversary of World AIDS Day, a time when people all over the globe are encouraged to support the 35.3 million people currently living with the disease, as well as to remember those who have died. It is also a time to learn about the facts about how to protect one’s self and others from infection.
Although there has been considerable progress in treating the disease, AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) remains the 6th leading cause of death among people 25-44 in the United States. It is primarily spread through sexual activity including oral, vaginal, and anal intercourse, as well by sharing infected needles and through tainted blood transfusions, as well as breast milk from infected mothers. Pregnant woman can also transmit the virus to their fetuses through their shared blood circulation.
Additional ways of spreading the virus can include being accidentally stuck with infected needles, artificial insemination with infected donated semen, and organ transplantation involving diseased organs.
Note: The idea for World AIDS Day was first conceived by James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter, two public information officers for the Global Programme on AIDS at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland in August of 1987. and was eventually taken over by the UN nine years later, which moved to increase focus on the pandemic beyond just a one day commemoration into a year-round campaign. In 2004, the World AIDS Campaign became an independent organization.