World AIDS Day is celebrated every December 1, and has been for the past 28 years. But maybe it’s time for a change? No, of course we don’t mean that we should get rid of it — that would be foolish. But maybe it’s time to change the name to World HIV Day?
Pangaea Global AIDS is working to do just that. They’ve started a campaign to rebrand World AIDS Day as World HIV Day. After all, the way we treat HIV and AIDS has changed so much since 1988. One big change — we didn’t have PrEP then.
Ben Plumley, the CEO of Pangea Global AIDS, said “Now, more than ever, we cannot be aspiring to “the end of AIDS” when groups most affected are increasingly targets of persecution and intimidation — whether they be gay men, trans people, girls and women, people of color — and critically people who inject drugs. We cannot aspire to the ‘end of AIDS’ if funding beyond 2020 — particularly from major donors — is under fundamental threat.”
By renaming it to World HIV Day, Plumley says, it will “move attention away from the short term (that has been characterized by the use ‘AIDS’) to the realization we will be in this for the long haul.”
The site’s “About Us” section explains further: “This epidemic has never been just about a virus. We defeat HIV when we embrace social justice… With changes in governments and policies around the world — most recently in the USA — there is a real risk that HIV will be deprioritized.”
Of course, a re-branding effort doesn’t work if people aren’t on board. To that end, the World HIV Day site has a signup form for organizations to pledge that they’ll use the new term. Already, many big groups have signed on, including the gay social app Hornet, Project Inform, AIDS Care China and the Global Forum on MSM and HIV (MSMGF).
We agree — it’s time to change the focus and name of World AIDS Day, and World HIV Day is exactly what we need.