It is incredible to see how the American experience of World AIDS Day has changed since it was first observed in 1988. Once upon a time, December first was about processing the massive personal and communal losses that we had all experienced in the year. When the dying stopped and the grief was too much for us to process, it became about the third world, about getting treatment to those who did not have access. Then there was an almost complete disappearance of the day from popular culture. Those who had been most affected in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles still held rallies and observed moments of silence, but few observed the memorial or used the day as a teaching opportunity.
But the past few years the observation of the day has experienced a kind of renaissance. As the AIDS Free Generation movement, the Berlin Patient, PrEP, and the many scientific advances in the field of AIDS treatment and prevention, have emerged - so has a new hope, one that seems to be inspiring us to rediscover our passion to fight, or at least to make the discussion of AIDS and HIV to return to a place of relevance.
In the past few years, projects like SF’s AIDS Memorial Grove , The HIV Story Project, HBO’s adaption of The Normal Heart and emergence of community groups such as Let’s Kick ASS , it seems that after years of being invisible, it is quickly becoming cool to be AIDS focused again.
With all that in mind, I want to offer you a few ideas about how to use a little of your time today to be focused on World Aids Day, remembrance and facilitating a new hope for the future of our cause.
- Watch HBO’s Vice Special Report: World AIDS Day - This documentary special works to bridge the knowledge gap about medical advances, both at home and around the world.
- Visit AIDSWatch.org - a 24 hour digital remembrance space to commemorate those lost to AIDS.
- Google “the Berlin Patient” – this inspiring story will change everything you think you know about what AIDS might be.
- Download and read the Department of State’s blueprint for creating an AIDS-Free Generation- this PDF outlines the goal to have the first generation of AIDS-free babies born in 2016.
- Explore Generations HIV - this project of The HIV Story Project bills itself as a digital AIDS quilt for the 21st Century.
Whatever you do to observe World AIDS Day today, please take the time to learn something about the new world of AIDS. The landscape has changed drastically in the past few years. If you haven’t spent the time to learn how, then you don’t know what you are missing.