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“We have to end the stigma and discrimination that still stop so many people from learning how to prevent HIV and get treatment. And we need resources — enough to provide services that will have a real impact in communities and on entire nations. The need to lead, empower and deliver on AIDS is as real and urgent as ever.”

Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General

1 December 2008 marks the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day. Since 1988, efforts made to respond to the epidemic have produced positive results, however, the latest UNAIDS report on the global AIDS epidemic indicates that the epidemic is not yet over in any part of the world.

Together with its partners, the World AIDS Campaign set this year’s theme for World AIDS Day as “Lead – Empower – Deliver”, building on last year’s theme of “Take the Lead”. Designating leadership as the World AIDS Day theme for 2007 – 2008 provides an opportunity to highlight both the political leadership needed to fulfill commitments that have been made in the response to AIDS – particularly the promise of universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010 – and celebrating the leadership that has been witnessed at all levels of society.

The concept of a World AIDS Day originated at the 1988 World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programmes for AIDS Prevention. Since then, every year UN agencies, governments and all sectors of civil society worldwide join together to campaign around specific themes related to AIDS.