5 ways to raise awareness on World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day, held on Dec. 1 every year, is an opportunity for people across the globe to come together and show support for those living with and those who have died from HIV and AIDS, and to further dialogue about prevention, treatment, and cures. 

Though the conversation around HIV/AIDS has quieted since the 1980s and ’90s, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimated in 2013 that more than 1.2 million individuals over the age of 13 were living with HIV in the United States; worldwide, over 36 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, according to the World Health Organization. Despite advances in HIV treatment, large portions of the developing world such as Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia are unable to afford medication or to implement preventative education. Those living in poverty are disproportionately affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, both in the U.S. and abroad. 

However, there are ways you can bring back the needed attention to HIV and AIDS. Here’s how:

Debunk common misconceptions 

There are still many common misconceptions associated with how HIV spreads and to whom it spreads; in fact, some people still believe HIV and AIDS are God’s way of punishing LGBTQ people. One important way people can raise awareness is by using their platform—whether it’s as a student, professor, activist, social media user, or parent—to debunk misinformation about HIV and AIDS. For those looking for a good resource, the CDC offers a detailed overview of HIV and AIDS in the United States.

Wear a red ribbon

A red ribbon is a universal symbol of support and solidarity for those living with HIV or AIDS (the pink breast cancer ribbon actually derived from this red one). Though it might not be the most vigilant way to bring attention to the cause, visibility is still important. Some retailers sell red ribbons, but it’s also easy to make one at home with some ribbon and a safety pin. 

Host or participate in a fundraising run

Marathons are hosted in many cities worldwide to raise awareness about and fundraise for HIV/AIDS. Organizations like Team to End Aids From Chicago or Positive East From London host “red runs” for World AIDS Day but there are many ways to host your own event if you can’t find a run in your area.

Have a bake sale

OK, so “fun-runs” aren’t fun for everyone, but baked goods can be! Set up a community or individual event and donate proceeds to a local or national HIV/AIDS charity in your state, province, region, or country.

Share your story

Positive Spin is a series of stories from real people about their “unique experiences along the HIV Continuum of Care,” according to its official website. If you have and are comfortable sharing your own experience with HIV, Positive Spin encourages you to use the #mypositivestory hashtag this World AIDS Day. People may use the hashtag to direct to the website, where people can learn more about their HIV status, care, and treatment, and how to get tested.


Mehak Anwar

Mehak Anwar

Mehak Anwar is a reporter whose work focuses on LGBTQ rights, intersectional feminism, and race. Her byline has appeared in Bustle and the Huffington Post.