Before I forget and am lame, just wanted to remind everyone that today is World AIDS Day. It’s been almost twenty years since the first AIDS cases appeared in New York and San Francisco. It’s strange to think that for many young people today, they have never known a world without the threat and fear of HIV and AIDS. But also, those young people have also never known a world without cocktail drug regimens or where AIDS was so unknown, so feared that an American President would fail to say the disease’s name in public and everyone believed that it was only a disease that affected gay men and intravenous drug dealers. For many young people, new drug treatments and complacency have made them believe that AIDS is a manageable disease and that when we look at images of a still healthy Magic Johnson after so many years, they wonder if it’s really a big deal.
Well, of course it is. We must not forget that millions of people in America and around the world do not have access to or cannot afford expensive drug regimens, that many people in America and around the world, with or without AIDS, do not have access to basic health care. Five people die of AIDS every minute and almost 38 million people around the world are living with HIV and AIDS. While we must accept that we live in a world with HIV and AIDS and that it affects everyone, we must not grow complacent. HIV has not gone away.
Take some time today to learn more about HIV and AIDS, to remember those we have lost and those who continue to live with HIV and AIDS. Consider giving some time or money to support efforts to fight this virus and this disease, whether you decide to help support a national research foundation or a local community service group. And in the end, let us remember that one of the biggest challenges to fighting HIV and AIDS is the stigma associated with the disease– let us remember to fight prejudice, in all its forms. After all, it is our lives that are at stake.