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THINK: Things to Think and Talk About on World AIDS Day 2011

How are people thinking and talking about the role that HIV plays in their lives and in their communities. Below is a diverse compilation of first-person perspectives about the epidemic ranging from Word on the Street, to blogs and guest columns, to statements made by HIV organizations around the world.

Columns | Word on the Street | World AIDS Day Statements

  

Columns

For our World AIDS Day 2011 section, we wanted to capture the diversity of the HIV community. So, we reached out to people across the world -- mostly those who have never written for us before -- and asked them to guest blog. These columns are written by people who are living with HIV, have been affected by HIV, or work in the field.

Jimmy Mack

Love Heals, Ali Gertz and Me
By Jimmy Mack

[In 1992, my best friend] Eddie told me about a young girl [Ali Gertz] who was dying of AIDS at her parents' house on Dune Road and asked if I'd like to meet her. My recollections of that day are vague as I probably fortified myself with a few drinks before we went. But afterwards Eddie said wasn't it amazing what that young woman did with the knowledge of her disease by going public and talking about it to the media and at schools all over New York. And then he looked me straight in the eyes and said: "And look what you've done with the knowledge of your disease; you're nothing but a DRUNK!"

Read more

Marsha Jones

Increased Funding for All Could Get Us Closer to Zero
By Marsha Jones

So can we get to zero? I believe we can, but it won't happen if we continue to keep prioritizing one group over the other. It won't happen if we continue to not hold our elected officials accountable for creating and allowing policies to leave so many behind and worsen their lives, or if we allow our own leaders to strategically prioritize funding that causes one marginalized community to compete with another equally poor and marginalized community for funding.

Read more

Bianca Lopez

Getting to Zero Infections Among Young People in the Bronx
By Bianca Lopez

I have been reflecting on this year's theme, "Getting to Zero" HIV infections and the impact of HIV/AIDS on the Bronx community, especially among vulnerable youth. The Bronx is the poorest urban county in the United States with 1.3 million residents (51 percent Latino, 35 percent black/African American and 23 percent white). It is also the youngest borough in New York City and has the highest HIV rates in NYC for youth ages 13-19 (295 per 100,000) and ages 20-24 (618 per 100,000). As a Latina, born and raised in the Bronx, I know the challenges faced by my community way too well.

Read more

To read all of our World AIDS Day 2011 columns, click here.

  

Word on the Street

We hit the pavement to get readers to weigh in on a range of topics for World AIDS Day 2011.

What Does HIV/AIDS Stigma Look Like in Your Life?

Stigma: It can play a role in the ways people view their relationships, their careers, their health, their lives. Because of the ways it creeps into and clouds judgment on other aspects of the epidemic, many who are living with HIV and/or working in the field believe that stigma is the most profound challenge we face in the fight against HIV. We asked HIV community members from all over the U.S. to tell us about the different forms stigma takes in their lives.

Henry Ocampo

Henry Ocampo, HIV/AIDS Capacity Building Specialist, Fremont, Calif.; Diagnosed in 1995

HIV stigma for me means learning how to accept HIV, within myself first, before allowing other people to accept me in their lives. First I had to learn how to live with it on a daily basis, and trust that other people would be accepting of me for having it. I think stigma within myself was the biggest hurdle to begin with. After that, once I kind of figured that out for myself, then it was easier to allow other people in.

Evany Turk

Evany Turk, Comer Children's Hospital, Chicago, Ill.; Diagnosed in 2001

HIV stigma looks like a lot of fear and a lot of shame among young girls and young women. They are fearful to talk about it. They're ashamed to get tested because of the stigma around HIV. And ultimately, they're ashamed to come to the doctor with any kind of illnesses. They're afraid to come to the doctor to get tested for HIV, because there is still a lot of shame and fear around the three letters of HIV.

Read more answers here.

What Do We Need to Do to "Get to Zero"?

In the past year, global leaders have put the HIV community's feet to the fire, and their own, by setting the goal of "getting to zero" worldwide by the year 2020. That means zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero deaths from AIDS complications. "Getting to Zero," the theme for World AIDS Day 2011, reflects this call to action. But how are we as a global community going to reach this lofty goal? We asked advocates and people living with HIV/AIDS to share their thoughts.

Felipe Hernandez

Felipe Hernandez, HIV Advocate, Tucson, Ariz.

Try to understand sexuality in a greater context. I believe sexuality is more philosophical than just a biological concept. It's not one size fits all. We're just scratching the surface right now. We need to stop prejudice in order to understand sexuality more.

Regnarian Jenkins

Regnarian Jenkins, Housing Works, East New York, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Just make sure that people are aware. I think that our youth, they have a misconception. They feel they know, but they really have no idea.

So I think giving the correct information out is number one; number two, eradicating stigma, as a whole. People are under the impression that HIV looks a certain way. It doesn't. HIV can be me, you, black, white, yellow, brown, young, old. It can be anything. So just give the correct information out there, first of all, and then move from there later.

Read more answers here.

  

World AIDS Day Statements

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