World AIDS Day: December 1

What is World AIDS Day?

World AIDS Day takes place on December 1 each year. Whether you're here at Cornell, or studying in another part of the world, December 1 is an opportunity for all people to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.

How big of a problem is HIV?

Consider these facts:

  • Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
  • There are an estimated 36.7 million people living worldwide who have the virus.
  • In the U.S.,1 in 4 new infections occurs in a young adult (ages 13-24).
  • In the U.S., approximately 1,000 new infections occur in young adults each month
  • 60% of HIV-infected youth do not know they have the virus, and are therefore more likely to transmit it to others.

Today, scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the virus. Despite this, many people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with the condition.

World AIDS Day is important because it reminds the public and government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.

What should I do? 

Consider the following:

  • Take time to remember friends and family members who have died from AIDS, or who are currently infected.
  • Practice safer sex. If you don't already have condoms, latex barriers, and lube, consider stopping by the Cornell Health pharmacy.
  • Ask yourself if you should be tested for HIV and other STIs. Testing is FREE for students at Cornell Health. Local testing is also available at Planned Parenthood and the Tompkins County Whole Health.
  • If you are partnered with someone who has HIV, or believe you are otherwise at high risk of contracting the virus, talk with your provider at Cornell Health about whether taking "pre-exposure prophylaxis" medication (PrEP) is right for you.


Content on this page was adapted from