Following the January 1988 meeting of Health Ministers in London, a decision was taken that 1 December would annually be observed as World Aids Day. The step was motivated by the growing realisation that, unlike other pandemics like malaria, the spread of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) was not confined to geographic locations. The aim of World AIDS Day was to bring to people's attention the worldwide challenges and consequences of the epidemic, in order to prevent the spread of HIV and improve the lives of people living with the virus. The day was also a celebration of achievements made in the fight against this disease and aimed to focus world attention on current challenges. The first World Aids Day was observed on 1 December 1988 under the theme 'Join the Worldwide Effort'.
In South Africa, this day was first venerated in 1996 when the Department of Health organised a special event called the National World AIDS Day in Bloemfontein, Free State, and in Pretoria, Gauteng.
- SAHO feature the history of HIV/Aids in South Africa.