Today is World AIDS Day.
But that’s rather a misnomer, isn’t it? It implies that today is the only day that people everywhere think about HIV/AIDS. It also implies that today is the only day the world comes together in a fight against it. What we know, however, is that instead of a daily fight once a year, people all over the world — scientists and researchers, doctors and care-givers, people who are infected and people who volunteer in everyday battles against it — dedicate hours, days, weeks to this global disease. Just this past summer in DC, governments, non-profit organizations, and commercial corporations came together in enormous conference, known as AIDS 2012, that allowed collaboration, planning and scientific review of developments on a global scale. World AIDS Day doesn’t mark one day, once a year, but celebrates the efforts of many made every day, every year.
When I was thinking of a featured image for this post, I couldn’t find any images of the AIDS walks I’ve participated in, or the testing sessions at which I’ve volunteered. So instead, I bring you the image of a famous mountain synonymous with a beautiful city that is world-renowned for its own AIDS crisis. One the entire country faces on a detrimental and exponential scale. According to AVERT, an international HIV-AIDS charity, about “5.6 million people were living with HIV and AIDS in South Africa in 2009, the highest number of people in any country.” But again, this image I’ve chosen is misleading. The facts are astounding, but this disease doesn’t just pray on the “Other” we’ve learned so much about during my course here. It doesn’t care what color your skin is, the average temperature of your homeland, how much money your parents make. It doesn’t care if you have a job, if you support your whole family or if you have no one but yourself to rely on. It exists in every inhabited continent on the globe and nearly every country in the world. (For more information on regional data, and governmental fights against it, visit www.unaids.org.) It probably exists in your city, and may even be in your neighborhood, your building.
For a disease that is so blind to the many “-isms” that surround us, isn’t it time we stop discriminating our fight? We are fighting not just for the nameless person we’ve heard lives in that other country. We are fighting for them, and we are also fighting for ourselves. For our futures. For the future of this planet, and the many wonderful, colorful, creative and brilliant people who share it. Even if you think it can’t happen to you.
Join the fight. Get tested. Know your status.
Stop the spread.
World AIDS Day 2012. For all those living with HIV/AIDS, for all those who have been lost, and for all those dedicating their lives to the global fight against it.