World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.
Today, many scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. But despite this, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with HIV.
With care and treatment for HIV and AIDS becoming increasingly accessible, people living with HIV are regaining their health, living longer, and planning for their futures—which include the possibility of starting or expanding a family. Accordingly, people living with HIV and AIDS need access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including family planning and information on preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Integrating health services is a successful strategy that leverages existing and scarce resources, without placing an undue burden on health care systems. AWLN advocates for projects that link sexual and reproductive health and HIV services in several countries across Africa.
“Sometimes the best advocates are the ones who are brave, strong and empowered to speak from their own experiences,” says Alan Smith, a senior advisor on HIV at International Planned Parenthood Federation, a non-governmental organization that promotes sexual health.  And two AWLN members from South Africa, Prudence Mabele and Phindile Sithole-Spong have made the decision to share the life journeys living positively for the benefit of their society.
Phindile, the founder of Rebranding HIV was recently featured on TIME Magazine’s “Next Generation Leaders” for her bravery in fighting the stigma behind HIV, especially among her peers. Read the article here.