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World AIDS Day

Wear the Ribbon! Show your commitment to the fight.

World AIDS Day has been observed on December 1st each year since 1988. Special community messages and events are hosted to show the world that as a people we are united in the fight against HIV; to demonstrate our support for people living with HIV; and to commemorate those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day. At minimum, all are encouraged to wear a red ribbon to show their open support.

Join us in planning events for South Alabama communities in observance of World AIDS Day. Do you have an idea for an event or message campaign? Do you want to sponsor an event in observance of World AIDS Day? Are you hosting an event? Share your thoughts with MAO and join us in recognizing the pandemic that continues to take the lives of so many. Join us in honoring those who did not live to see the lives saved by effective treatments developed over the last decade.

Want to get involved with a World AIDS Day event being planned by MAO? E-mail Niece Danzey, Division Manager of Community Education.

Want to sponsor an event or host an event as a fund-raiser for MAO and services that benefit people living with HIV? E-mail Doug McCloud, Health Educator & Fundraising Specialist.

Explore activities MAO will be hosting this year on the Events Page of this site.

Learn more about World AIDS Day from the United Nations.

History of the Red Ribbon as a symbol of solidarity for the HIV/AIDS cause.

After nearly a decade of AIDS-related death and building stigma, in 1991 twelve artists gathered in a gallery in New York’s East Village. In truth, they were initially scheduled to meet to discuss a new project for Visual AIDS, a New York HIV-awareness arts organization. Their discussions lead to the selection of the red ribbon and what would become one of the most recognized symbols of the decade, worn to signify awareness and support for people living with HIV.

Although stigma continues to be a major barrier to care and compassion, HIV was stigmatized to a degree few today fully comprehend, and the suffering of communities living with HIV remained largely hidden. The team of collaborating artists wanted to create a visual expression of compassion for people living with HIV.

Drawing inspiration from the yellow ribbons tied around trees to show support for the US military fighting in the Gulf War and recognizing that the elegant loop of the ribbon shape would be easy to make and replicate, the path was nearly defined. Given the growing knowledge that HIV was NOT exclusively a “gay” community concern, the artists purposefully avoided colors and color combinations traditionally associated with the gay community, such as pink and rainbow stripes. Ultimately, these creative visionaries chose red for its boldness, and for its symbolic associations with passion, the heart and love.

In the beginning, the artists made the ribbons themselves and distributed them around New York art galleries and theatres. At first, ribbons were gifted along with text to explain its significance, but the need for explanation quickly disappeared. In only a matter of weeks, the red ribbon began to appear in volume, even in the most high-profile places as on the red carpet of the Oscars. With media interest and support, the symbol became the universally recognize symbol it is today.

The red ribbon continues to be a powerful force in the efforts to increase public awareness of HIV. It has inspired other charities to utilize the symbol, such as the pink breast cancer awareness ribbon.

Need a ribbon?

  • Make your own. Red ribbon looped with a small gold safety pin.
  • Order custom ribbon pins and merchandise from the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS online store
  • Ask a MAO team member when you see them. Supplies are limited, but ribbons may be on hand.