A Student’s Guide to World AIDS Day

Held every year on December 1st, World AIDS Day is an opportunity for students in the United States and abroad to show their support for people living with and affected by HIV. In the U.S., approximately 25 percent of new HIV cases occur among young people between the ages of 13-24. Therefore, it is particularly important for college and university students to make their voices heard and organize efforts to raise HIV awareness on their campuses. Here are some ideas you can pursue based on what other colleges and universities have done to observe World AIDS Day and other HIV Awareness Days.


Ideas for World AIDS Day

  • Candlelight Vigil: Light candles for those who’ve lost their lives to AIDS-related complications in the United States and abroad.

  • Red Ribbon Mural: Pin red ribbons onto a mural to honor the lives of the people who’ve died of AIDS-related complications around the world.

  • AIDS Memorial Quilt: Host the AIDS Memorial Quilt at your college or university. It’s easy, affordable, and an important way to preserve and teach others the history of AIDS activism.

  • Kissing Booth: Far too many people still believe HIV can be transmitted through saliva. Debunk this common myth by organizing a kissing booth on your campus.

  • A Day Without Art: Hold a ‘A Day Without Art’ to remember artists who are no longer with us because of HIV.


Ideas for all HIV Awareness Days

  • Experts’ Panel: Convene a panel of local, regional, and national experts who can talk about the current realities of HIV. HRC would be happy to help.

  • Speakers’ Bureau: Many communities have a local speakers’ bureau of people living with HIV who are ready and willing to share their personal stories. Check with local advocacy organizations for contact information.

  • Benefit Concert: Organize a concert where proceeds benefit an HIV or AIDS service organization in your community.

  • Film Screenings: Host a film screening and discussion on one or more movies or documentaries about the HIV epidemic.

  • Health Fair: Organize a health fair where students can learn how to have safer and more pleasurable sex.


Tips for a Successful Event

  • Collaborate! Collaborate! Collaborate! Reach out to student organizations (e.g., Black Student Union, Queer Student Union) and student affairs professionals (e.g., Counseling & Psychological Services) that might be interested in working with you on the event.

  • Distribute Condoms & Lube: Depending on the event, it might be a good idea to order condoms and lube and make them available to your attendees.

  • Involve Your Local ASO: Reach out to the local AIDS Service Organization in your area to see if they would like to co-sponsor the event and/or provide free, rapid HIV testing.

  • Contact HRC: HRC has a number of resources available that we would be happy to send to your campus free-of-charge, including:


This resource is not a substitute for sound medical advice — and the examples throughout it don’t cover every situation! We encourage you to seek out additional resources from other community advocates and, most importantly, talk to a knowledgeable healthcare provider before making any medical decisions. Last updated: February 2017