As the world comes together for World AIDS Day on Saturday, it will be far more educated about the disease than when the global event first began on Dec. 1, 1988.
Participants in red ponchos walk out of a basketball arena to a field before attempting to assemble the world's largest human AIDS ribbon on World AIDS Day at Coppin State University in Baltimore, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011. Organizers estimated that 1,000 people participated in the event, short of their goal of 4,000. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
When the public first became aware of AIDS in the 1980s, it was essentially a death sentence and those who had it were treated cruelly. Perhaps the first famous case of how cruelly people with HIV/AIDS were treated is that of Ryan White, a 14-year-old HIV-positive high student from Indiana. White was infected with the disease through a blood transfusion during his birth in 1971.
It was only in 1984 when he became ill from pneumonia that he was diagnosed with AIDS. His case became widely known and attracted intense media attention-and fear. He was barred from attending class for a full year and was only allowed back after intense legal proceedings that it their way up to the Indiana State Supreme Court. When he did return, he had few friends and was forced to use disposable silverware. When his mother went grocery shopping, cashiers threw her change on the counter to avoid touching her hands, according to an account by the New York Times. He died in 1990 at the age of 18.
To date, more than 30 million people have died from AIDS and some 34 million are currently infected with HIV, the virus the causes AIDS. People of African descent make up the highest percentages of those who are living with the disease.
Today marks a globally united effort to further educate each other on how we can work towards a day when no one is infected with the disease. NewsOne will do its part by providing some information on how World AIDS Day began as well as some statistics on how HIV/AIDS is impacting the Black community.
Equally important, we have provided links to resources that people can go to for support.