World AIDS Day

For nearly three decades every December 1, we’ve heard about the tragedy of AIDS. Activists the world over put a spotlight on the AIDS virus on this day. They encourage testing and distribute leaflets with information on HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, including how it spreads and how to keep from getting it. The United Nations Secretariat Building in New York is lighted with the red AIDS ribbon.

AIDS has killed 35 million people since the start of the pandemic. It’s left millions of orphans in its wake. Every year, 2 million people acquire the virus, and the U.N. estimates that more than 1 million people die from the virus annually.

Still, a lot has happened since the first World AIDS Day in 1988. Countries in which the topic was once taboo now offer testing and treatment. Mothers with HIV can have healthy babies and live to raise them. Drugs can keep the virus from spreading. More than 18 million people are on lifesaving anti-retroviral drugs that keep HIV in check. And now, scientists are talking about vaccines and a cure.