I still remember the very first World AIDS Day in 1988.
Thirty years ago, a group of artists came together to raise awareness of the devastating toll the AIDS crisis was having on our communities. At the time, it was known as a Day Without Art. They honored the lives lost and pushed our government to address the epidemic that was taking the lives of so many of our friends, family members, and loved ones.
Back then, there were few solutions on the horizon. Now, there are more than 40 ART (Anti-Retroviral Therapy) drugs to treat HIV, sometimes with just one pill a day. There is even a pill-a-day to protect from new infections. What we have achieved since that first World AIDS Day has been nearly unimaginable and, in many ways, it couldn’t be a more hopeful time in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Despite having medical solutions at our fingertips, a new person is diagnosed with HIV every 14 minutes in the United States—and this number has not changed significantly for years.
Today, we celebrate the incredible advances we have made, but we must also raise awareness of another Day Without “ART”: Anti-Retroviral Therapy. Specifically, we need to make sure Anti-Retroviral Therapy drugs and prevention education resources are making it into the hands of people who need them most.
The fact is, for many complex reasons, the burden of HIV infection disproportionately impacts men of color who have sex with men. This is clearly an issue of equity, privilege, and access. The unchanging infection rates point to a sad reality: people still don’t have the information and resources they need to protect themselves.
Which is why we need a day like this to continue to raise awareness.
World AIDS Day continues to be about saving lives, and this is the essence of Pride Foundation’s work. Every day, we get to partner with scholars, grantees, and community partners who are committed to ending HIV, and addressing the whole host of health disparities that impact our communities.
In addition to our ongoing grantmaking to HIV prevention and support services throughout the Northwest, Pride Foundation is proud to support The AIDS Memorial Pathway (The AMP), a community-driven project that will use public art to create a physical space for remembrance and reflection, utilize technology to share stories about the epidemic and the diverse community responses to the crisis, and provide a call to action to end HIV/AIDS, stigma, and discrimination.
Please join us in honoring World AIDS Day, and recommitting to the work ahead by raising awareness of the continued fight to end HIV, and by supporting the courageous leaders and organizations working every day to do the same. Together, we will reduce the stigma of HIV/AIDS, protect and educate our communities and ourselves, support those who living with HIV/AIDS, and ultimately help end the epidemic.