The first World AIDS Day – a day dedicated to raising awareness about HIV/AIDS, combating prejudice against people living with the virus, and raising funds to find a cure – was held in 1988. Back then AIDS was still pretty new in public consciousness.

Today, 23 years later, AIDS is a recognized global epidemic. An estimated 33 million people are living with HIV across the world – 1.2 of them live in the United States and the majority (22.5 million) live in Africa. While great advances have been made in diminishing taboos, educating people about HIV prevention, and finding treatments that help people living with the virus, there is still much work to be done a vast majority of people living with the virus lack access to the resources, medications, or health care that they need.

World AIDS Day kicks off AIDS Awareness Month during the month of December. December is also the month of Hanukkah – a holiday focused on miracles, perseverance, and creating light within the darkness. Help bring the light and hope of Hanukkah into AIDS Awareness Month by participating in one of the service opportunities below.

  • Learn more about the impact of HIV/AIDS by checking out the World AIDS Day website (based in the UK), AIDS.gov (based in the US), or this report, put out by AJWS.
  • Plan an event in your area this month to help raise awareness or funds (or both) for HIV/AIDS research and education. (Find resources here.)
  • Donate to Housing Works an HIV/AIDS advocacy, awareness and education organization.
  • Donate to American Jewish World Service, which works with  partners across Africa and other countries to find on-the-ground solutions to the HIV/AIDS crisis. Check out more of their work in the video below.

How is your community planning to commemorate World AIDS Day and AIDS Awareness Month? Let us know in the comments below!