Rock the Ribbon on World AIDS Day

The red ribbon is the symbol for AIDS/HIV awareness. Photo credit: creative commons

AIDS and HIV cases have been declining since 1996 but there is still more work to be done.

World AIDS Day takes place every Dec. 1 and was started by the National AIDS Trust (NAT) in 1988. It focuses on raising awareness and funds for the deadly disease.

There are currently 36.9 million people living with AIDS worldwide, according to UNAIDS.

In Durham Region, the Red Scarf Project promotes awareness of the annual event by encouraging community members to make scarves that look like the red ribbon which is associated with World AIDS Day.

The project is run by the AIDS Commitee of Durham Region (ACDR) and asks people to make red scarves and donate them either to the ACDR headquarters or to a public library near them.

The scarves are collected during the months of October and November and tied around trees and poles in Oshawa.

“By standing up and admiting that this is okay, knowing that it is okay to speak out about something because only then can you draw attention to it and get the funding coming and getting the attention all illnesses need,” says Joannes Ashley, co-founder of the local Red Scarf project. Ashley won the Dr. Bob Scott Disease Prevention Award and is a prominent HIV/AIDS activist with ACDR.

RED, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising money and awareness for AIDS/HIV, partners with companies like Apple.

The red iPhone is produced by Apple in partnership with RED. A portion of profits from the phone are then donated towards the global fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

The partnership with Apple has been in place for 11 years and has raised over $160 million.

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A screen grab from the Apple website.

According to UNAIDS, there were 1.8 million new HIV infections in 2017 compared to the 3.4 million in 1996. This means HIV infections have declined by 47 per cent since the peak year in 1996.

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The decrease in AIDS related deaths since 2004. Photo credit: Meagan Secord

Organizations like NAT, UNAIDS and ACDR hope for a cure and will continue to raise awareness and funds in order to decrease cases of HIV and AIDS related deaths.