World AIDS Day and the red ribbon

World AIDS Day and the red ribbon

Since 1988, the first day of December has been known around the globe as World AIDS Day, allowing people to show their support for the fight against HIV/AIDS by donning a red ribbon – a symbol that is now representative of the cause.

Cipla supports this cause, both medically and socially, and while awareness and understanding have grown over the past three decades, the fight is ongoing as people continue to be added to the 35 million death toll

The ribbon’s history

The use of ribbons has been around for centuries, with their origin lying in war and military campaigns. The US military still uses a yellow ribbon today, often tied onto a tree or door, to show that a family member is away fighting on foreign soil.

That tradition has been in popular use since the late 1970s. It’s immediate efficacy for soldiers went on to inspire many charities and activists to use ribbons to represent their causes. AIDS activists, for example, have adopted the red ribbon for their cause.

Interestingly, the red ribbon has never been copyrighted, unlike most potentially profitable things these days, because the founders didn’t want it associated with a specific organisation, to allow anyone to show their support, and to avoid it becoming a trademarked idea.

A part of popular culture

World AIDS Day, and the red ribbon in general, is now part of the global consciousness, with initiatives like Broadway Cares taking it out of the shadows into the spotlight. Literally, in this case, as events starring big celebrity names are staged throughout the year in New York.

In South Africa, where the fight is especially taxing, the overarching media theme, from government to individual charities, is ‘Getting to Zero’. While eradicating the disease is still somewhat far off, eliminating the stigma and discrimination is something we can all help with.

What can you do to help?

Cipla are doing their part by changing their headquarters’ billboard along the N1 highway in Cape Town to feature the red ribbon, so seeing this will hopefully remind drivers to purchase a ribbon and wear it on World AIDS Day. Visibility is key to fighting fear and discrimination.

There are many ways to get hold of a red ribbon (you can even buy sparkly ones here), or donate money to research (here’s one option), or to volunteer at care centres and orphanages.

And of course, get tested. Know your status, be safe, and stay educated.

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