Red Ribbon Day kick-started the International AIDS Conference
Author: Olesya Kravchuk, AFEW International
Red Ribbon Day on May 16 2018, was a kick-off to a summer focused on HIV/AIDS which culminates with the International AIDS Conference AIDS 2018 in Amsterdam, July 23-27. The events that took place during the day were aimed at raising awareness of the global AIDS epidemic, bringing people together and acknowledging the progress made in combatting the problem. Red ribbon symbolizes solidarity with people living with HIV and AIDS and was chosen as an appropriate symbol for this special day.
During the day, a “Youth Campaign Lab” was organized for youth volunteers to generate a youth-led campaign on HIV, AIDS, and SHRH. The event organized by Amsterdam Youth Force and Dance4Life turned out to be a huge success. Youth volunteers came up with brilliant ideas to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic. At the end of the day, the ideas were presented to the Dutch princess Mabel Wisse Smit. Princess Mabel was very impressed by the creativity of the youth participants. She also stressed the importance of involving young people in solving the issue of the AIDS epidemic.
“HIV and AIDS are a huge problem among young people around the world. Of course, no one knows better how to reach young people than the young people themselves. The positive energy of these change makers was very enjoyable to see,” said princess Mabel.
On the evening of May 16, King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima attended the Red Ribbon Concert at AFAS Live in Amsterdam to draw attention to the persistent problem of the HIV epidemic. The concert was successful in gaining broad attention for the international AIDS response. The theme of the evening was: AIDS is not over… but it can be! It was a moment for the HIV/AIDS field and community to come together and to recognize the progress made in the fight. The concert was organized by the Dutch organizations collaborating on the AIDS2018 conference. And, it took place during the week of AIDS Memorial Day. The line-up brought together musicians and artists from across the world and from a variety of backgrounds to highlight the diversity.
At the concert, the Pop Up Aids-Expo was launched. The Royal Couple visited a pop-up expo prior to the concert to learn about the stories of people from all over the world who live with HIV. This mobile exhibition will travel through the country in the coming months. The concert and the exhibition are the preludes to the International AIDS Conference AIDS 2018 that will take place in Amsterdam this summer. The conference will bring together 20,000 people, including people living with HIV, AIDS activists, top international scientists and doctors.