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Gratitude on World AIDS Day

November 15, 2010

For our World AIDS Day 2010 section, we wanted to capture the diversity of the AIDS 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.

Richard Cordova III

Richard Cordova III

When I was offered the opportunity to blog about World AIDS Day, I began to think of the actual wording, "World AIDS Day." I was immediately filled with a sense of gratitude. A sense of gratitude for the medications I have, the support systems I have in place, and of course my own good health. This is not to say that people here in the United States don't face their own set of challenges when it comes to living with HIV.

For instance, as of October 7 there are 3,586 people in eight states who are on waiting lists for AIDS Drug Assistance Program coverage. One hopes that they are finding medication through other programs while waiting for a spot on ADAP. In other parts of the world, people are not so lucky. What is the first (and only) line treatment in some parts of the world is third or fourth line here. Of course in many places (especially in Africa), medications are not even available.

Is there stigma associated with being HIV positive here? Yes there is. However, at least for me and the people I know, they are allowed to live their lives as they see fit. In other parts of the world having HIV/AIDS is like asking to be branded an absolute outcast who is most certainly seen as less than human.

Gratitude is defined as a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation. On this World AIDS Day, as all others, I will strive to be thankful for what I have and appreciate what has been given to me. This includes appreciation for the unique set of challenges that have made me the person I am today.

Richard Cordova III is a project manager at Test Positive Aware Network in Chicago, Ill.

Read more of Positive Indeed, Richard's blog, on

This article was provided by TheBody.

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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Jeff (Canada) Thu., Dec. 2, 2010 at 1:40 pm UTC
I would add thanks to scientists, activists, donors, doctors and other care providers. They are the true heros in our battle.
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Comment by: Douglas S. (Hamilton Ontario) Wed., Nov. 24, 2010 at 11:24 am UTC
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in America! We've already had Thanksgiving in Canada -- it was in early October and is positioned more closely to harvest-time. It is so appropriate then to be thankful at this special time.

I recognize that most people get to choose their battles. I for one can't get excited over how many chocolate chips need to be in a chocolate chip cookie; but I can savour a really good freshly-baked morsel along with a cold glass of milk. If this evokes clear memories (of taste, sight, & smell) count yourself in the lucky few (out of the global population). I will never (they always say never say never) -- but I will never empty the raisin bran cereal box to be sure that there really are 2 scoops of raisins. But I am happy that I can purchase food & know that inspectors are mandated to insure that the food in the cereal box is safe to consume.

At the 2006 International AIDS Conference in Toronto, I was able to meet hundreds of PHAs from around the globe. I had some rather interesting discussions with many of them.

As Bill Gates & Bill Clinton were 2 of the most high-profile conference participants, I asked some of these PHAs the following question: "If Bill Gates offered to write you a large cheque [or if Bill Clinton promised to raise funding] for something that you identified as a critical need in your country -- what would the cheque be for?
I expected that they'd say "for ARV medications"; or "primary care-givers"; or even "food". But the over-all answer was "clean water".

Clean water.

Same answer from PHAs of Zimbabwe, Kenya; India; China; Indonesia; South Africa; Mozambique; Malawi; Namibia; and the list goes on....

Yes, we have a long way to go. HIV Stigma is still rampant 3 decades later. Access to treatment is shamefully not universal.

But I would that every PHA had clean water -- and I am thankful for every PHA who has clean water.
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