Well, it was thirty years ago that we first gave a name and formalized recognition of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It was too many years later before President Reagan could bring himself to utter the word while legions died. So much was misunderstood. I volunteered at the AIDS Hotline phone bank in Los Angeles (no Internet in every home or every lap then) and it was harrowing–both the terror of the unknown, and the misinformation and misunderstanding of what WAS known. We’ve come a long way, Baby…but have a hell of a lot further to go.
ONE.org has launched a new campaign today, World AIDS Day, to try and get agreement from the world to bring an end to AIDS by 2015. They are launching a new online AIDS Quilt, and you can make a panel here to add your voice, creativity, memories, and most importantly, support to the effort. (I know we don’t have discretionary income any more, but this matters so much. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria just announced a few days ago that it has to cut funding to new programs to fight AIDS in needy countries, since donations have dropped off so precipitously.)
Please find a way to get involved, today and going forward. Here are some service/volunteer ideas to get you started from the office of the White House focused on AIDS education and prevention, a division of the office of Health and Human Services.
While treatments take away the grim reaper for many people who now live with AIDS instead of dying from AIDS, it is not cured, statistics show only about 20% of those infected with HIV are getting treatment that actually lessens their viral load (because only one in five who HAS HIV infection has been tested and KNOWS they are infected), and millions are dying all the time who cannot afford medicines. We can make it go away, not only in our lifetimes, but in our near future–but only with your help. We have arrived–it is the Beginning of the END of AIDS.