Why do we need to celebrate World AIDS Day?  Because the epidemic isnt over.  Because every year thousands of people in the United States become infected with the virus, and nearly a fifth of them remain undiagnosed.  Because I look around and see the devastating effects of this disease on people I know and love.  Because I’ve seen this disease completely upend the life of a newly diagnosed friend.

If you had told me 15 yaids ribbonears ago that we would still be fighting this disease, I would have laughed in your face.  Certainly, medicine and public health would have put an end to this epidemic by now.  But yet, here we are in 2012 and there’s no end in sight.

And yes, the 1.2 million people in the United States living with AIDS today are doing just that – they are LIVING.  But they are also still dying.

We shouldn’t be talking about HIV/AIDS as if it’s a thing of the past, because it’s not.  It is very much here and present.  What we need to be talking about is an endgame, a way out – a way to stamp this disease out.  We need to be open and honest.  We need to educate our children about sex and teach them how to be safe.

And when all else fails, we need to embrace our friends, family, and loved ones who have fallen victim to this disease.  We need to show them our love and support, not our hatred and fear.

So this World AIDS Day, I urge you to go out and get tested.  Become educated, informed, and empowered.  So that we can end this thing once and for all.

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