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World AIDS Day 2008

Word on the Street

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If you were in charge of World AIDS Day, what would you do to make it a more meaningful day?

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Carrie Broadus

Carrie Broadus, Executive Director, Women Alive, Los Angeles, Calif.

I would hold nationally broadcast one-hour town hall meetings between policymakers, community stakeholders and health departments to discuss the impact of HIV and the role all of us play in combating the disease.

Larry Bryant


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Larry Bryant, Director of National Advocacy, Housing Works, Washington, D.C.

Get rid of it! [Laughs] I would get rid of World AIDS Day.

I understand the intent behind creating awareness days like World AIDS Day, Black AIDS Awareness Day, National Gay Men's Awareness Day. The reason World AIDS Day was created was that we within the HIV/AIDS community felt that there was not enough awareness throughout the general population regarding what the HIV epidemic was. But in creating these days, we've almost turned them into holidays where it's more celebratory kinds of activities that are just sealed off to those already involved in the HIV community.
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George Burgess


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George Burgess, Treatment Educator, Absolute Care, Atlanta, Ga.

I would push the message that in order for us to get rid of this disease, we have to look at the stigma that's attached to it and the discrimination that's going on globally.
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Gwendolyn Carter, Prevention Outreach Coordinator, SisterLove, Inc., Atlanta, Ga.

For World AIDS Day to be a more meaningful day, it should be a true holiday or a true calendar day. Just like for Valentine's Day everybody does something: gets a card, a piece of candy, something, on Valentine's Day, because that is the day for everyone to be loved.
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Allan Clear

Allan Clear, Executive Director, Harm Reduction Coalition, New York City

Up to 26 percent of people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States have spent time in the correctional system. I would release all prisoners serving sentences for drug possession [on World AIDS Day] and make it a day of celebration as families are reunited. Incarceration is not accidental nor are people biologically or racially predisposed to criminal behaviors. Our prisons are full due to the prosecution of the war on drugs.

 

Natasha Davis, Ed.D., M.P.H., Clinical Instructor of Public Health, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa.

World AIDS Day 2008 must be a day of celebration and liberation. It must also be a day to signal to the world that a new day is here.

The country as a whole is undergoing a shift of transformational power. We must respect and honor the leaders who came before us and who are courageous enough to pass on the baton and make way for new leadership.
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Martin Delaney


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Martin Delaney, Longtime HIV/AIDS Activist; Founding Director, Project Inform, San Francisco, Calif.

I'd certainly ask for the cooperation of the media. In general the media has really lost interest in AIDS compared to previous years. They might give a two-minute spot or something on World AIDS Day and think they've done their job. Instead, I think it would be a time to really provide some in-depth reporting on the subject, both in the United States, where people seem to think the disease is conquered and the epidemic is over, and around the world, where the devastation is really unchecked, despite all the success we've had with starting treatment.

If I would change something, it would be that I'd bring the heads of the media in and negotiate with them, if possible, to really make this an important day for them as well as for the world.

Dazón Dixon Diallo, M.P.H.


(3 min.)
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Dazón Dixon Diallo, M.P.H., Founder and President, SisterLove, Inc., Atlanta, Ga.

The way I would want to make it more meaningful would be to have annual activities that actually unite what people are doing around the world. There would be some level of simultaneous action, the same way we do with Arbor Day.

Everybody knows on Arbor Day what to do. That's to go out, plant trees, clean up the environment -- do something specific on that day. Right now, we get a theme but we don't have any particular list or a small set of activities that we could be doing globally to connect everybody and make it actually a world focus on AIDS for a day.

Right now, I think it's just the day that people observe however they do, if they do, in their own communities. It still remains fairly isolating.
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Kenyon Farrow


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Kenyon Farrow, Public Education Director, Queers for Economic Justice, New York City

I think one of the problems with World AIDS Day is that it tends to be just an apolitical day of remembrance. That is the only day that we have some coordinated international energy around HIV/AIDS. I think that we could use it to much more kind of a political effect.
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Ingrid Floyd


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Ingrid Floyd, Executive Director, Iris House, New York City

World AIDS Day is great in that I think it's the one day that completely brings global attention to HIV/AIDS and the fact that this is still an epidemic and that it's still ravaging communities.
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Paula Frew, Ph.D., M.P.H.


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Paula Frew, Ph.D., M.P.H., Assistant Professor, Emory University School of Medicine and Rollins School of Public Health, Atlanta, Ga.

As someone who has worked in the local community for years, I would advocate for a multi-pronged approach to enhance the relevance and importance of World AIDS Day.

Nationally, the public is charged by the political opportunities that lie ahead -- it would be highly beneficial to engage President-elect Barack Obama. His words and actions have moved so many, so I would ask for a public service statement (and ideally, accompanying Internet and other visual media) in which he promotes a day of free national HIV testing and counseling for all persons.
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Bambi Gaddist, Ph.D.

Bambi Gaddist, Ph.D., Executive Director, South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council, Columbia, S.C.

  • Focus on youth and the fact that we are losing the next generation.
  • Create campaign that focuses on the role of the faith community in combating HIV/AIDS stigma.

Bethsheba Johnson


(1 min.)
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Bethsheba Johnson, Clinical Coordinator, Luck Care Center, Chicago, Ill.

When I think about what the president-elect did: He used new technologies. I thought, "Wow. What if we could use those to get the attention of our young people -- and our older people -- across America?"

Using things such as Facebook and MySpace and texting and, again, some public service announcements directed towards the youth on their T.V. stations, their radio stations. I think that developing a campaign that would target the youth using those media would be really great! I just think Obama was such a good organizer; I think some of his methods would be right on the money.

William Johnson, M.D.


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William Johnson, M.D., Medical Director, Luck Care Center; President, Southside Health Association, Chicago, Ill.

We did this in Chicago on a small scale with some of the high schools here. Walgreens pharmacy actually sponsored this promotion with the high schools. But each high school through a local magazine that goes to high school students promoted a World AIDS Day event where students were given opportunities to come up with a poster, a photograph, or a written word, some kind of art form to speak on HIV and AIDS. It was very broad. They could do whatever they wanted to.
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Freda Jones


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Freda Jones, Absolute Care, Atlanta, Ga.

If I were in charge of World AIDS Day, I would make it a more meaningful day by advertising it worldwide. I think I would get the media more involved instead of it being just a city thing. I don't see enough advertising on T.V. I don't see enough billboards. I don't see enough people doing footwork around World AIDS Day. I just see it within the community. So I would advertise it more worldwide.

  
Mark King


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Mark King, Author and Longtime HIV/AIDS Activist, Atlanta, Ga.

I'm really stumped by this question because World AIDS Day has become meaningless in recent years.

The fact that World AIDS Day is meaningless these days is a real reflection of how the sense of urgency has left the AIDS arena. We need someone to bring a sense of urgency back to that day -- to stop it from being some sort of commercial day of just throwing dark blankets over art in art galleries and return it to a day of vital urgency. How that will be done I don't know.
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Marilyn A. Moering, M.P.H., Executive Director, Building Bridges, Inc., Jackson, Miss.

It wouldn't be a World AIDS Day, necessarily. We need to talk about HIV/AIDS every day! People need to be reminded often about HIV in our communities. Relegating it to one day seems to make it less important.

Nyrobi Moss


(2 min.)
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Nyrobi Moss, Sexual Health Educator and Trainer, SisterLove, Inc., Atlanta, Ga.

I would target policymakers and lawmakers and people that are unaware that HIV is such a problem in communities of color and the communities that are more affected by the virus.

The one thing that I find is that the higher up you go, people start to separate and distance themselves from World AIDS Day. They say, "Oh yeah, OK, millions of people are dying with this thing." But a lot of people do not have a personal, vested interest in the things that are going on with HIV, with prevention, with people that have HIV.
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Kenny Porter


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Kenny Porter, AIDS Housing Program Manager, Atlanta, Ga.

First, I would make it all-inclusive, which means that I would probably make it almost like the United Nations, where everyone would have a stake and involvement in it -- everyone can get some type of meaning and understanding of HIV/AIDS and the impact that it has on the community across the board, not just the person who is infected.

Loreen Willenberg


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Loreen Willenberg, Executive Director, Zephyr Foundation, Sacramento, Calif.

As I approach my 16th World AIDS Day, I can't tell you when it was actually authorized to be a day, a World AIDS Day. I thought about all the many events that I've gone to myself. Even those years when I was actually living undisclosed, those years that I wasn't able to go to an organized event, I really felt that asking every World AIDS Day event organizer in the country to distribute and recite the 1983 Denver Principles would be a fabulous thing to do.
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Jorge Zepeda


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Jorge Zepeda, Manager of Latino Programs, San Francisco AIDS Foundation, San Francisco, Calif.

Grassroots actions! One of the things I learned from Obama's presidential campaign is the importance of grassroots community mobilizing. We need to change World AIDS Day into a grassroots event.

Talk to your family. Talk to your friends. Talk to your loved ones. Talk to your colleagues or coworkers or classmates: about what HIV is, how you can prevent HIV, how to care for people living with HIV. I would like to do that if I were in charge of World AIDS Day. I would promote grassroots community mobilizing so that everybody would talk to others about HIV prevention as well as care for people living with HIV.
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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Jeffri (RGV Texas) Sat., Jan. 10, 2009 at 3:47 pm EST
I would find a way to include everyone. It seems that it has been limited to the Gay or African American, woman, & latino. What about the straight guy. It is difficult to get any support or advise for the straight white guy. It sometimes feels as if i'm all alone.
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Comment by: Ricky (San Antonio, TX ) Thu., Nov. 27, 2008 at 1:39 am EST
I would like to see a million PWA march on Washington to emphasis that people who are living with HIV/AIDS even though we are living longer, the quality of that life is still not much of an improvement. We are encouraged to take HAART cocktails to keep us alive but at what cost to our quality of life? Some of us, like myself, find it hard to work. When are we going to go back to the reality of HIV/AIDS?
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Comment by: Linda (Michigan) Wed., Nov. 26, 2008 at 12:43 am EST
Education is so important. I had to do my own research. Several doctors did not test me when I asked for testing, and had precursors to testing. So I am not sure how long I've been positive. When my virus did not progress, the information got more obscure. Everything is MEDS!!! Well I am not on meds, and I have to wonder if my above average diet of raw and natural foods is the KEY. Eliminating chemicals and irritants in your environment. Bug sprays, oven cleaners, paint fumes .. .anything toxic is very bad for us Positives. Proper nutrition is a key factor in health. It seems more information on this should be presented. Most people take what their doctor says as gospel. What if he says little?
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Comment by: Oluwatoyin Salau (Lagos Nigeria) Mon., Nov. 24, 2008 at 6:40 pm EST
World AIDS DAY is quite significant as a reminder of the need to sustain and strengthen our collective battle against the scourge of our time. To commemorate this year's World AIDS day my organization HOPE worldwide Nigeria in Partnership with MTN-Foundation in conjunction with Ikeja Local Action Committee on AIDS would bring together the stakeholders, policy makers and youths to assess the impact of the interventions so far and ways to sustain the battle against the spread of HIV/AIDS in the community today, tomorrow and in the years to come, especially in the sub-Saharan Africa. One of the major problem of HIV/AIDS is the issue of stigma and discrimination in the society and this particular fundamental problem has affected the productivity of people living with the virus.

Most of are either sacked from their jobs or denied outright employment on the basis of their status. My focus is to support actions that will make the government of Nigeria make it a criminal offense for any employers of labor, landlords, medical personnel, teachers and community leaders to engage in the victimization of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Another area is to continue to encourage organizations like MTN Nigeria, a GSM communication company with a foundation that is funding interventions through VCT, PMTCT, the foundation remaining the only organization that provides free breast milk substitute to over 1000 children delivered of HIV positive mother in the last 3 years. It has successfully funded the training and equipping of about 240 clients in skills such as tailoring and designing, soap making, hair dressing. Another 240 sets of people are currently undergoing training in tailoring and designs, soap making, hair dressing, milling, commercial telephone operators and tie dye.

As the project officer for the Lagos site my aim is to further strengthen linkages with other organizations to further enhance collaboration and reduce duplication of service rendered to the community, to reduce wastage and boost service delivery.
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Comment by: jsjacksonwny@hotmail.com (San Deigo) Sun., Nov. 23, 2008 at 1:09 pm EST
I would stand up and DEMAND a cure. I would remind everyone how pathetic it is that after 30 years we are still decades away from eradicating this virus. I would also initiate a witch hunt on the pharmaceutical companies that profit off of this disease. Keeping people dependant on their drugs is much more profitable than curing the disease. Where is the incentive to even pretend to look for a cure? I would demand that the world's governments make it illegal to profit off of life sustaining drugs. I would demand that pharmaceutical companies redirect all revenue into research for a cure. Living with the side effects of our pharmaceutical regimes is not an option that we should be content with. Our complacency needs to end now!
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Comment by: Donna Hamilton, Females Unveiling the Secret !! (Toledo, Ohio) Thu., Nov. 20, 2008 at 2:15 pm EST
World Aids Day should be a day when we all -- affected, infected, black, white, old and young, male, female, rich and poor -- come together to continue to educate, support and show compassion for each other. Change will only happen when we change first. This day should be a great conference, that anyone wanting to be there, would not be turned away from merely for $$$. Saving lives is priceless!
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