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1988: First World AIDS Day

In the early 1980s doctors began noticing rare cancers and infections striking otherwise healthy young gay men. Something was destroying their immune systems — something fatal and possibly contagious. At first it was called the 'gay plague.' Then others began dying: Haitians, intravenous drug users, hemophiliacs and heterosexuals. Fear, confusion and prejudice reigned as the disease eventually known as AIDS grew from a mystery to an epidemic. This topic contains discussion of a sexual nature. The medical information in the clips was believed accurate at the time of broadcast, but may have changed.

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Since it was first reported in the early 1980s, AIDS has been claiming more and more victims. Initially it was seen as a mysterious plague that only attacked gay men. But now, almost a decade later, an estimated 10 million men, women and children worldwide are infected with the HIV virus -- 50,000 of them in Canada. AIDS is everyone's problem, and the message of the first World AIDS Day -- Dec. 1, 1988 -- is "more information, less discrimination."

But while nations around the world coordinate efforts to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS, a disturbing Canadian report is released. It shows that Canadian kids are having sex earlier and, while they know about AIDS, they aren't protecting themselves from it. And in Vancouver, AIDS activists work to ease the suffering of AIDS victims in the face of public and government apathy.
• The first World AIDS Day came in the wake of the World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programmes for AIDS Prevention in London, England. Delegates from 148 countries including Canada attended. They emphasized the need for worldwide AIDS education, the free exchange of information, and the protection of human rights and dignity. The World Health Organization recognized the event by declaring December 1 World AIDS Day.

• In 1991 the red ribbon became the international symbol of HIV and AIDS awareness. It was created by the Visual AIDS Caucus in New York. It made its public debut at the 1991 Tony Awards on the lapel of host Jeremy Irons.

• The theme of the 2002 World AIDS day was "Live and let live." It focused on eliminating stigma and discrimination.

• AIDS is the acronym for "acquired immunodeficiency syndrome." ("Acquired" means you can catch it; "immunodeficiency" means a weakness in the body's system that fights diseases; a "syndrome" is a group of health problems that make up a disease.)

• AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV kills or damages cells of the body's immune system, destroying the body's ability to fight infections and certain cancers.

• Researchers initially believed HIV only affected gay men, but now know that it is most commonly transmitted by unprotected sex between males or between males and females. It is also transmitted by sharing needles, from transfusions of contaminated blood and to babies of infected mothers during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding. In 2002, women made up half the people with HIV worldwide.

AIDS facts:
• One in 100 sexually active adults worldwide is now infected with HIV.
• More than 50 million people have been infected with HIV. Over 18 million have died from AIDS.
• 16,000 people become infected every day.
• More than 2,000 Canadians test positive for HIV every year.

Also on December 1:
1870: Hudson's Bay Company transfers its vast territory to the federal government.
1962: In the Grey Cup, the final between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats game is suspended in the fourth quarter due to fog. Bombers win 28-27 the next day and the game will go on to become known as the "Fog Bowl."
1969: Breathalyzer testing is introduced by Canadian police forces.
1986: The Supreme Court rules Canada Post doesn't have to provide door-to-door delivery.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Dec. 1, 1988
Guest(s): Catherine Hankins, Rick Hoogstraten, Alan King, Brian Peel, Robin Simpson
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Eve Savory, Karen Webb
Duration: 6:23

Last updated: October 22, 2014

Page consulted on February 18, 2015

All Clips from this Topic

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