“On December 1st, we will observe the 32nd World AIDS Day. I’ve been an activist since 2005 when I was seven years old and it never ceases to amaze me that many people don’t know when World AIDS Day is observed.
World AIDS Day is a day that tends to go unnoticed to the average citizen, but through education, that narrative is shifting. Another World AIDS Day, I was standing on a street corner in the financial district of Detroit with a large sign that said, “I’m HIV-positive. Can I have a hug?” Hundreds of people read the sign and kept walking. Three people stopped to talk, two of whom hugged the young man standing beside me, assuming it was he who was HIV-positive. They were shocked to learn it was me. One asked, “Why?” I told them I was born with it. There are so many wrong assumptions when it comes to HIV/AIDS. World AIDS Day is a day to reflect about those we’ve lost, where we were when the pandemic started and also to think about how much progress has been made - where we are now and what we have yet to do in order to defeat this virus once and for all.
For those living with HIV, World AIDS Day is not just one day, it is every day. Our community was built through love, resiliency, courage and the determination to be able to show your true self without judgment or discrimination.
It is very important, especially now as we are experiencing a new global pandemic with COVID-19, to remain resilient. We must keep up our activism, keep the fundraising going in the quest for a cure. We can’t lose focus on the goal of raising funds for research and must continue to participate in HIV/AIDS related campaigns, workshops, social media, etc. We need to educate others about the importance of getting tested, to break down barriers, so that it is no longer taboo to want to care for your sexual health. With the availability of self-testing kits, there is no longer the anxiety of having to leave the comfort of your own home to go get tested or the fear of someone finding out your status. HIV/AIDS is very different now than it was 32 years ago, and it is thanks to the ones who came before me and the people working for a better tomorrow.”