Today is World AIDS Day. All day today, December 1st.
What is it? According to WorldAidsDay.org, “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.”
However, it is so much more than that. Having HIV or AIDS used to be, and still can be, incredibly stigmatized. People are judged for having this illness, regardless of how they got it, their identities, their communities, etc. Originally, it was named a gay man’s disease. Although one of the largest growing group of those newly diagnosed with HIV is straight women of color, it is sometimes still thought of as a disease in the gay man’s community.
Honestly, however people view HIV and AIDS, it doesn’t matter as much as support those who are living with HIV and AIDS (and their loved ones), remembering those who are no longer with us because of these illnesses, and working to prevent the further spread of HIV and AIDS…and that is where it is crucial for people to understand that this isn’t a homosexual disease, that it wasn’t sent by G-d to kill the gays, and that until we can feel empathy or at least sympathy for those living with HIV and AIDS, we continue to stigmatize and hurt those already hurting.
Take a moment today to think about what you have personally done to fight HIV and AIDS, or to support those and their families who have it. Whether it is raising awareness, volunteering with a hospice, donating to a local organization, handing out condoms and dams at Pride, you name it, there are ways to help. Please decide one way that you’re going to help fight HIV and AIDS over the next year…and here’s the important part; DO IT. It’s here, and it’s not going to go away if we close our eyes. So let’s do something to make a change.