Thursday, December 1, marks World AIDS Day 2022. Launched in 1988 by the World Health Organization, the annual event is a time to remember and honor those lost to the epidemic and to support those who are HIV positive—it’s estimated that about 700,000 Americans have died of AIDS-related illness and that 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV.

World AIDS Day is also an opportunity to raise awareness of the important issues surrounding the epidemic, such as testing, prevention, education, stigma, health equity and access to care.

The theme of World AIDS Day 2022 is “Putting Ourselves to the Test: Achieving Equity to End HIV.” In the video at the top of this article, Harold J. Phillips, MRP, the director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, describes the significance of the theme.

This year’s World AIDS Day, Phillips explains, “encourages people to unite globally to eliminate the disparities and inequities that create barriers to HIV testing, prevention and access to HIV care.”

Below you can watch additional World AIDS Day messages from other federal HIV leaders:

With so many organizations, businesses, municipalities and individuals observing World AIDS Day, it’s impossible to list all the related events. However, the POZ Calendar includes a roundup of highlights, ranging from candlelight vigils to short films and podcasts. Many of the events take place both in person and virtual. Search #WorldAIDSDay on your favorite social media platform for more. A few sample posts of events and awareness campaigns are embedded throughout this article.

For basic statistics about the U.S. epidemic, offers these facts:

  • Approximately 1.2 million people in the U.S. have HIV. About 13% of them don’t know it and need testing.

  • HIV continues to have a disproportionate impact on certain populations, particularly racial and ethnic minorities and gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.

  • In 2019, an estimated 34,800 new HIV infections occurred in the U.S.

  • New HIV infections declined 8% from 37,800 in 2015 to 34,800 in 2019 after a period of general stability.

  • In 2020, 30,635 people received an HIV diagnosis in the U.S. and six dependent areas—a 17% decrease from the prior year, likely due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on HIV prevention, testing and care-related services.

  • HIV diagnoses are not evenly distributed across states and regions. The highest rates of new diagnoses continue to occur in the South.

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Visit the POZ Basics on HIV and AIDS to learn more facts about the virus, including information on transmission, testing, treatments and prevention. And click #World AIDS Day for a collection of POZ articles about the annual observance. You’ll find headlines such as “Inequities Are Blocking the End of the AIDS Pandemic,” about a new report from UNAIDS that shows how HIV discrimination, stigma and criminalization are costing lives.  

On November 30, President Biden issued a proclamation on World AIDS Day 2022. He spoke about both the global and national HIV epidemic, listing challenges and successes. Below is an excerpt:

It was long hard to imagine, but today, we are within striking distance of eliminating HIV transmission worldwide. Thanks to the incredible dedication of scientists, activists, health care workers, caregivers and so many others, we have made enormous progress preventing, detecting, and treating HIV; reducing case counts and AIDS-related deaths; and freeing millions of people to enjoy long, healthy lives. Still, not everyone has equal access to that care. And for the more than 38 million people around the world now living with HIV—especially members of the LGBTQI+ community, communities of color, women, and girls—a diagnosis is still life-altering. We can do better.


When I became President, we reestablished the White House Office of National AIDS Policy and released a roadmap to accelerate efforts to end the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030. Federal agencies have committed to nearly 400 related actions, working with stakeholders across the country to make the latest advances in HIV prevention, diagnosis, and treatment available to everyone. I have asked the Congress for $850 million to increase the use of preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP), expand treatment, and fight the stigma that stops many people from getting care. We are working to remove barriers to employment, with our Armed Forces, for example, ending blanket restrictions on HIV-positive service members being deployed or commissioned. And we are calling on States to repeal or reform so-called HIV criminalization laws, which wrongly punish people for exposing others to HIV. These outdated laws have no basis in science, and they serve to discourage testing and further marginalize HIV-positive people….


We still have a hard road ahead, especially in addressing racial and gender gaps in our health systems, which have long driven inequitable HIV outcomes at home and abroad. But as we today honor the 700,000 Americans and 40 million lives lost worldwide to AIDS-related illnesses over the years, we have new hope in our hearts. We finally have the scientific understanding, treatments, and tools to build an AIDS-free future where everyone—no matter who they are, where they come from, or whom they love—can get the care and respect they deserve.

Finally, below is a message from the director-general of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who calls for global solidarity and bold leadership so that everyone receives the care they need.