Today, December 1st, is World AIDS Day.
Today is set aside to honor the memory of those who have lost their lives to AIDS. To remember those who've lost husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, aunties, uncles, neices, nephews and friends to the disease. To remember 12million orphaned children. To remember the more than 34million people living with HIV worldwide.
Today is set aside to remind us of our courage and to remind us of our hope.
Today is set aside to plunge forward with determination to get to zero - zero new infections, zero discrimination, zero AIDS-related deaths (this year's theme).
Today is set aside to both remember what has gone before and to dream of what is yet to come.
To mark World AIDS Day, I've rounded up a few of my favorite quotes from this week's commemorations. Click on the links to read the full articles.
I hope your inspired to find the part you can play in bringing about the end of AIDS.
I have referred to AIDS as a dragon, one so immense in size that it has the potential to swallow our efforts and soften our courage. But somehow, something has gotten stuck in its throat. It coils and writhes and gasps, but it cannot dislodge what is choking it. Our hope...
This is good news. But this is not the entire story. It is worth celebrating. It matters that we marvel at the shift in momentum. If this were a great war, and I do not know many who would think of it otherwise, we would talk in guarded but hopeful tones about the end coming soon, and victory as imminent.
But we would not stop fighting. For the hope of a wars end is not a wars end. And a choking dragon is still an angry and powerful dragon. We cannot stop what we have fought to achieve.
But we must never forget the catastrophe of the early days, because in all of that hopelessness and uncertainty, we found incredible ambition.
All across Africa, we found the bravery that would make Zackie Achmat, a South African AIDS activist, stand up and promise that he would not take a single one of his pills until every last South African had access to treatment. We found the courage that allowed men and women to appear on TV and radio and publicly say, "I am HIV-positive," in the face of tremendous stigma and for no other reason than that others might face an easier path in the future. We found the endurance to make it through the countless, sleepless nights spent in Ministry offices that helped the world accomplish our 3x5 goals.
That ambition gives me hope. It still exists today -- in ministries and civil society and donor offices and in the communities where HIV has made its unwelcome home. And we need it more than ever, because another 7 million people need treatment and they need it right now.
Now is the time to accelerate. For so many athletic events—swimming, sprinting, horseracing—the speed set “off the blocks” or “out of the gate” is key. The AIDS response is, as many have said, a marathon and not a sprint. But even for such an endurance event, the start matters—a lot. Within the first five miles, or 10 kilometers, of a marathon—when the vast majority of the distance has yet to be covered— an experienced runner can tell whether she has set the pace she needs to beat a record, whether the record is her own or the world’s.
We’re just a year into an era of incredibly high stakes for the global AIDS response, and we know that there are years to go before we can say that the epidemic is moving conclusively towards an end. But what we can do is look at the pace we’ve set and say that while there’s still plenty of reason for optimism, there is already real cause for concern.
Which is why it is exactly the right time to start a clock, and shift global efforts into a higher gear.
Our goal is not to help children become better orphans, but rather to identify and recruit families with love in their hearts and room in their homes to welcome children into their lives.
Esperança had clung to the hope that too often eludes me. She had the courage to live beyond the facts, fully aware of the possibility of being humiliated in that hope...
Esperança wouldn’t be alive today without second-line ARVs. She wouldn’t be alive if her family hadn’t received treatment and teaching about HIV from Salt, Light, Health and Life Team activists. She wouldn’t be alive if her mother, her primary care-giver over the past months, had given up. She wouldn’t be alive without the daily wound care she received from a team of informally trained lay people. She wouldn’t be alive without the thoughtful conversations between several different doctors, hundreds of miles apart. She wouldn’t be alive without the activists around the world who lobbied over the years for lower ARV prices, and the PEPFAR funds that made her medication available. But the obligatory prerequisite to all of that was her own deep hope. Esperança’s esperança.
I read something really wonderful the other day that I re-posted on Twitter
A quote by NIAID Director Anthony Fauci where he states:
"In terms of a cure, we should be expecting it, but we should also push hard for it."
I appreciated his words so much. Finally, what I've believed for and prayed over my children since the day of our diagnosis, has been validated. This important statement comes from the same scientist, who, years back, said we'd never cure AIDS. His words, his newfound conviction, will no doubt CHANGE the world and how we think about the possibility of a cure for HIV. Words, thoughts and intention are oh so powerful!
On this, World AIDS Day, we need to embrace the powers of intent, however fast or dreadfully slow they come and band together. We don't yet know the exact "when" or "where" but one thing is for certain: We WILL see HIV eradicated in our lifetime. Stay in HOPE. Stay in STRENGTH, and BELIEVE...a CURE for HIV IS POSSIBLE.