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World AIDS Day Doesn't End at Midnight

November 15, 2010

Over the years, World AIDS Day has become a global phenomenon that has prompted massive media coverage, raised awareness, encouraged people to get involved and helped amplify the voices of those living with HIV/AIDS. Every Dec. 1 for the past 22 years, humanity has taken 24 hours to commemorate those who have died, acknowledge those who live and those who fight on the frontlines of the battle against HIV, and ponder what it will take to eliminate the virus once and for all.

We all can agree that one day is not enough. Only so much that can be accomplished during a single rotation of the earth on its axis. So as we planned our 2010 World AIDS Day feature, we kept coming back to a central issue: How can we keep HIV/AIDS from falling back into obscurity once Dec. 2 hits? How can we help people carry the torch into 2011 and beyond?

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Is it even possible?

Given the accomplishments we've seen take place in the U.S. alone during 2010, it'd be nice to think that it is possible to build momentum. This year brought the U.S. its first-ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy; the lifting of its HIV travel ban; a resurgence of people on AIDS Drug Assistance Program waiting lists; the debut of a remarkable HIV/AIDS documentary, The Other City debuted; and excitement about the development of a potentially effective microbicide. An acclaimed budding fashion maven even disclosed his status on television and was hailed for his courage.

But despite all of this, there is still pathetically little attention paid to HIV/AIDS in mainstream society -- and often, the attention HIV does get only serves to reinforce ignorant stereotypes and strengthen stigma.

We need more media coverage about actual people living with HIV, telling their stories on their own terms. Wouldn't it be immensely powerful to see people talking about raising their families; addressing stigma; dealing with the difficulties of treatment adherence, side effects and drug resistance; overcoming addiction; battling housing and economic issues; dealing with dating, sex and love; and navigating homophobia, racism and gender issues?

But nearly three decades into this pandemic, we're still not seeing any of that. Although there are some politicians and members of the media who try to publicly break down the walls of HIV stigma, it's clear that if we want real change to happen, we're the ones who are going to have to bring it. One person at a time, one community at a time, from the ground up. The quest to keep HIV/AIDS on people's radars begins with each of you.

It's with this in mind that we created our World AIDS Day 2010 feature at TheBody.com. In this section, which is for both HIV-positive and HIV-negative people, you will find content that inspires you to do, think and learn more about the fight against HIV/AIDS. You can locate events in your area to attend; educate yourself and your community with informative fact sheets; and read a diverse helping of first-person stories and commentaries in which people discuss their experiences living with or being affected by HIV. You can also watch the finalists in our World AIDS Day 2010 Video PSA Contest -- and vote for the video you think should win!

We hope our World AIDS Day site will inspire you to become AIDS activists in your own way. That could be by simply wearing a red ribbon. Or you could volunteer at a local HIV/AIDS organizations. You could write a letter to your local politician. You could encourage your peers to get tested. You could e-mail media outlets and demand that they report more on the epidemic in your area. You could ask your pastor, rabbi, imam or other religious leader to start an AIDS education and support group. You could use your Facebook and Twitter accounts to send messages of compassion, prevention and awareness out to people who are close to you.

In the same way you might instinctively bless people when they sneeze or hold the door for them as they leave a store behind you, make HIV/AIDS education a part of your everyday life. Take advantage of the little opportunities that arise to increase awareness and reduce stigma, one person at a time.

Whatever you choose to do, please don't let the flame flicker out when Dec. 1 ends.

Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.


This article was provided by TheBody.com.


Reader Comments:

Comment by: veronica h (ft. walton bch, fla) Tue., Dec. 7, 2010 at 7:10 pm EST
that is a very interesting article because i am trying to do something BIG out the box for world AIDS day in 2011 and i can use all the help i can get. I have been living with AIDS for 16 years now and i am very comfortable in my skin as a matter of fact i am Fine & Fabulous..My town is a small town and hush hush about the matter.What i want to do is bring a lot counties from the state of Florida and we take it to Washington d. c. or Tallahassee or even n.y.and once we get their we make a BIG impact.i don't have a rally in mind that's always being done. something different,maybe say something loud by being silent in number. msv842@yahoo.com Being a voice.
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Comment by: ed (NYC) Wed., Dec. 1, 2010 at 2:17 pm EST
I hate World AIDS day. It reminds me of how hopeless it is. My friends and family never wish me "Happy AIDS" day - because that would be ridiculous, and also talking about it is uncomfortable.

HIV is the most complex virus. It's greatest allies are shame and greed. Big pharma is not interested in HIV these days- that's not where the $ is. I don't expect our current US political system to save us - or for trillion dollar companies to grow a heart and fund research out of altruism. HIV is a big never-ending money train for them.

Here in th US, HIV is mostly a disease of gay/bi men and their partners. What motivation does a young gay man have to protect himself these days, if society tells him his life is meaningless at best, evil at worst?

Also -many guys(like me) got HIV while in a long-term relationship and very much in love. We tend to idealize a person we are in love with and not question what they say.

We're in need of education targeting gay men about testing, seroconversion etc. and the basic science- and that the guy on A4A is not neg just because his profile says so.

We also need to start seeing ourselves as real men and regain our self esteem. Let's start with not calling each other "girl" OK? Society will never be on board - it needs to come from us.


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Comment by: Anonymous Sun., Nov. 28, 2010 at 8:48 pm EST
WHERE ARE THE STATISTICS!!??
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: bud hardy (NYC) Thu., Dec. 2, 2010 at 9:04 pm EST
Here are some numbers for you. In America it has been reported by the CDC there were 37,151 Americans with an AIDS diagnosis in 2008; the last year for which these figures were available. We are 29 years into this HIV pandemic, and as of 2006 there are some 1,106,400 Americans reported as infected with HIV. Or consider the CDC has reported that ½ of 1% of all Americans under the age of 50 are living with HIV; disproportionately 2.6% and 1.5% of African American men and women, respectively, are living with HIV.
I might add HIV is not disease limited to gay/bisexual men; HIV does not discriminate!


Comment by: GETACHEW G. (Ethiopia) Fri., Nov. 26, 2010 at 7:45 am EST
The battel against HIV/AIDS should continue. Because it is still taking the life of many and many chldren are loosing their parents due to this evil. I am very much serprised why HIV is rising in the US while it is declining in other areas. This article is educative for this comminity.Thanks
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Comment by: Bertram L. (San Antonio Texas) Wed., Nov. 17, 2010 at 10:33 am EST
Thank you for you continuing articles regarding HIV and AIDS. I am a retired soldier and social worker and I work with a magazine for African Americans (Our Heritage)I am always looking for updates on the fight against the disease. Your articles and informative updates provide me with these. Thanks again.
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