World Aids Day falls on 1 December each year and serves as an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV/Aids, to show support for people living with the condition and to commemorate those who have lost their lives to an Aids-related illness.
The date for the global commemoration has been observed by UN member states every year since 1988.
The virus was only identified four years prior to that, when it sparked a huge international scare and was wrongly assumed to only affect members of the LGBT+ community, but has already killed 35m people and infected 78m across the globe.
In the UK, approximately 101,000 people currently suffer from HIV out of an estimated 36.9m worldwide, with 5,000 new cases diagnosed in Britain annually.
However, not everybody is equipped with the facts about how to protect themselves and others and stigma and discrimination remain a life-changing reality for people living with HIV.
According to the National Aids Trust (NAT) one in five people living with HIV say that they have needed help with loneliness.
Meanwhile, three-quarters of people reporting feeling isolated say they have not been able to find that solace.
As such, the organisation is calling for peer support services to be made available across the UK so that people can access the help they need, when they need it and wherever they are.
World Aids Day was first conceived of in August 1987 by World Health Organisation (WHO) publicists James W Bunn and Thomas Netter and was then run by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS) from 1996 until 2004 when the World Aids Campaign became independent.
The Pope, the president of the United States and other world leaders all use the occasion to reaffirm their commitment to eradicating the disease, a goal the UN hopes to achieve by 2030.
The White House has proudly displayed a 28-foot red ribbon from its North Portico since 2007, stressing the Oval Office’s commitment to combating Aids in the wake of George W Bush introducing the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR), providing support for those afflicted around the world.
You can buy red ribbons to show your support from NAT's online shop, request free red ribbons with a display and collection box if you’re planning to fundraise for NAT in the UK and use posters and images for your social media.
Those wishing to back the cause in the UK on World Aids Day can also make a donation to the trust online.