December 1st marks World AIDS Day each year, a day that reminds the world of the incredible success in fighting this disease as well as the challenges that remain. Despite amazing advances, there is still no cure for HIV/AIDS and a new person becomes infected with HIV every 11 minutes.
With all the hysteria surrounding the Ebola outbreak, only 2 people in the United States ever died from Ebola. So 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. According to the CDC, more than 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the United States, and 18% of them dont know they are infected.
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.
For those of you in the Boston area, please visit the Aids Action Committee of Massachusetts to volunteer or make a donation at AIDS Action Committee of MA