Today is World’s AIDS Day, and it’s a day that for me marks the beginning of the holiday season more than Thanksgiving. It’s a true living memorial day for many to reflect on the lives and accomplishments of the people we lost.
Growing up in the late 80s and early 90s I was convinced that simply by being gay I would succumb to HIV. I’ve outgrown that phobia (I think) but it’s still a strangely religious experience for me— maybe it’s the red ribbons — as a matter of fact it reminds me of anecdote my friend David Shannon told me recently recalling that on December 1, 2009, during Obama’s first year in office: a large AIDS awareness ribbon was displayed on The White House. MSNBC’s Chuck Todd commented on the live shot. He bemoaned “the huge red Christmas bow” and complained about it being “too early for Christmas decorations.” He corrected his statement after the break. This display of ignorance is the precise reason that we still need events like World AIDS Day to commemorate everyone that we have lost and to continue promoting awareness.
It’s a good day to take stock of where we are in the epidemic and that’s another thing that I think has to be brought to the forefront—this is one epidemic—as much as we like to break it down into the post and pre-plague years—that’s a unicorn and there’s one through line going from Robert Rayford in 1969 to Matthew Shepard to today—we’re no closer to a vaccine and we are way off to meeting UNAIDS 90-90-90 goals: to have 90 percent of people know their status, 90 percent of those diagnosed on treatment, and 90 percent of those in treatment undetectable, all by the year 2020.
Some days it feels like the other shoes gonna drop any minute and others the future looks optimistic but 20/20 is hindsight and nowhere near 90-90-90.
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