In 1988, the World Health Organization designated December 1st as World AIDS Day.

World AIDS Day is a day to remember those who have been taken from us, to remind us of the efforts of those working on prevention and treatment and to work to reduce the stigma and shame so often assigned to those living with HIV.

Locally, Rochester has an organization that has evolved from our response to the AIDS crisis in the 80’s- Trillium Health. Along with the University of a Rochester’s Victory Alliance which works on HIV vaccine testing, and other organizations like MOCHA and Anthony Jordan Health Center, we have quite a few resources to assist in education, prevention and treatment.

What are some things you can do on World AIDS Day to raise awareness?

1) Get tested. If you are sexually active, and are considered to be an at-risk demographic, go get tested. It’s the responsible thing to do- both for you and for any of your partners. The test takes 20 minutes- a quick prick of your finger, and that’s all. I just went Tuesday, and as usual, it was simple and easy.

2) Encourage others around you to get tested, and utilize suggested safe-sex methods. PrEP and condoms make for a great barrier to HIV and STD/STIs.

3) Is there a display of the AIDS quilt in your town? Go see it. Equal Grounds Coffee House is hosting a few panels again this year.

4) Can you support your local prevention/testing services financially or by volunteering? Do it. It’s rewarding work, and you are changing lives.

5) Question stigma and any assigned shame directed towards people living with HIV. Why? Those who are HIV negative don’t have any superiority over those who are HIV positive. We talk so much about equality, and equity. Well, now that we know those who are undetectable don’t transmit the virus to their partner(s) who are HIV negative, statuses are equal.

However you spend World AIDS Day, I hope you think about how you can impact the world around with some very simple actions.