World AIDS Day is commemorated every December 1st of each year.

According to, World AIDS Day was first held in 1988 – the first ever global health day. This is one way for people across the globe to “unite in the fight against HIV,” support people with HIV, and memorialize those who have died with the infection.

As mentioned on NBC New York, the red ribbon is “the universal symbol of awareness and support for those living with HIV.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) listed HIV as a “major global public health issue.” As reported on the site, 1.2 million people worldwide died from HIV-related causes in 2014.

Currently, there are approximately 36.9 million people in the world who are living with AIDS. Majority of them come from low and middle-income countries, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa. This region also has the highest account in the global total of new HIV infections – at almost 70%.

The World Factbook released a list in 2013 which ranked countries globally according to the percentage of adults (age 15-49) living with AIDS. From the list, it can be observed that the top 10 countries are located in Africa.

Top 10 Countries with Highest HIV Rate:

1. Swaziland, 27.73%

2. Botswana, 25.16%

3. Lesotho, 23.39%

4. South Africa, 18.92%

5. Zimbabwe, 16.74%

6. Namibia, 15.97%

7. Zambia, 12.37%

8. Mozambique, 10.58%

9. Malawi, 10.04%

10. Uganda, 7.25%

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) targets and weakens the immune system of a person. The virus destroys the body’s immune cells thus making it susceptible to a range of infections. Its “most advanced stage” is the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) which takes 2 -15 years to develop.

Signs and symptoms of HIV vary from one individual to another. To prevent infection, one must follow precautions such as voluntary circumcision, use of condoms, HIV testing/counselling, and antiretroviral (ART). Thru rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs), HIV antibodies can be detected. Such tests provide same-day results, according to WHO.

Despite challenges, mentioned that new global efforts such as treatment services and therapies continue to prevent the epidemic. The site mentioned that prevention is believed to help reduce the prevalence rates in some countries.