December 1, 2010
As an action-packed year for the HIV/AIDS community draws to a close, TheBody.com takes stock of 2010 in a new series of articles, "HIV/AIDS Year in Review: Looking Back on 2010 (and Ahead to 2011)." Read the entire series here.
There are so many specific challenges facing the HIV/AIDS community as we close out the third decade of the pandemic, and many areas where change is sorely needed. Yet it seems a number of them fall under just a few categories: the need to lessen HIV/AIDS stigma, to find a cure, to think more broadly about who is affected by this virus. This idea is reflected in the responses of many community members who answered this question.
Angela Green, M.P.H., Executive Director, IRIS Center, San Francisco, Calif.
I want local health departments to look at PREVENTION epi-data realistically. The risk populations being hardest hit by this pandemic are being completely ignored in prevention efforts. For example: In San Francisco, heterosexual, African-American men and women are not targeted in the city's 2011 HIV prevention plan.
Larry Bryant, Director for National Organizing, Housing Works, Washington, D.C.; Diagnosed in 1986
I want to see the black community (men, women, youth, gay, straight, faith, etc.) unite and emerge as this country's leaders to influence policymakers on all levels to implement the policies needed to address the factors that contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS.
It pains me to think of the distances we as black people have traveled in our history and the barriers we have overcome, when the other choice is death, and we do NOT use that history to strengthen our current causes. Poverty, homophobia, under-education, disproportionate incarceration rates, violence against women and girls, and disappearing young black males are all issues tied to the devastating HIV infection rates among blacks in America.
Until we realize our power as a whole and use our voices for change not just at the polls, but every day in our neighborhoods, we will be allowing another generation to slip closer to the brink of elimination.
Dawn Averitt Bridge, Founder and Chair, The Well Project, Charlottesville, Va.; Diagnosed in 1988
I'm ready to usher in a new era of expansive thinking about HIV/AIDS on all levels -- awareness, treatment, care, research, policymaking, stakeholder engagement (we're ALL stakeholders, it's just not clear to everyone out there yet that they have a role to play in the fight against AIDS!). It's time to challenge our friends, our neighbors, our policymakers, our businesses, and our corporate giants to engage in this fight because it's not just a global issue; AIDS is a human issue affecting households in every community in this country. Imagine what we can do in 2011!!
Sharon S. DeCuir, Prevention Program Coordinator, HAART (HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region Two), Baton Rouge, La.; Diagnosed in 2002
I would like to see people become more open and accepting to people who are living with HIV/AIDS [PLWHA]. In the time it takes them to say something negative or insensitive to a PLWHA, they should take a second and think: "What if that was my mother, sister, brother, father, husband or child? Would I want someone to say that to them?" They should take time to educate themselves and when possible others because, I am sure, if they assessed their lives and activities, at one time they may have been at risk of contracting HIV. I would like to see people get tested more and become educated about HIV/AIDS, read a brochure -- because that just may be the piece of paper that saves them from living with HIV/AIDS.
Troy Ray, Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective, Hartford, Conn.
I want to see zero number of new infections and a cure.
Jorge Zepeda, Manager of Latino Programs, San Francisco AIDS Foundation, San Francisco, Calif.
I want to witness more compassion for working-poor HIV-positive Latino and Latina immigrants.
I want homophobia, transphobia, heterophobia and xenophobia to disappear in order to work effectively in HIV prevention and early access to HIV care.
I want mothers and fathers to assist their children in understanding their sexuality, sexual identity, respecting their bodies and prevention of HIV.
Julie Davids, HIV Prevention Justice Alliance, Providence, R.I.
Of course I'd like a cure (which I believe can happen, especially if we join the efforts to push forward the research), but it will likely not happen quite so quickly as one year from now ... and sadly only slightly more plausibly, I'd like to see federal and state appropriations that would allow us to have a shot at realizing the vision of the national HIV/AIDS strategy.
Karla Barnett, African American Office of Gay Concerns , Newark, N.J.
The one thing I would like to see change in HIV/AIDS is to reduce or eradicate the stigma that comes along with this disease -- so that more people can become willing to tell their story, to help people make the decision to be tested and stay HIV free if negative and to get care if positive. If people weren't afraid, they would be more willing to believe that knowing your status is important in more ways than one.
David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Diagnosed in 1988
I would like to see more concern and activism about the ever-increasing gaps in health care coverage for essentials such as medications (especially ADAP), housing, substance abuse and mental health.
Danica Wilson, Prevention Specialist, AIDS Project of the Ozarks, Springfield, Mo.
From a personal and public health perspective, I would like to see greater understanding and less stigma related to HIV/AIDS. I think that a vast majority of people in the United States have the mistaken impression that HIV is over and those who become infected belong to "those groups" on the margins of society. HIV stands for HUMAN Immunodeficiency Virus ... we all still have the potential for HIV exposure.
Christine Campbell, Vice President, National Advocacy and Organizing, Housing Works, Washington, D.C.
What I would like to see in HIV/AIDS in 2011 is an increase in the integration of housing in HIV/AIDS policy. Research has shown that stable housing is an integral structural intervention in both the prevention of HIV/AIDS, as well as having a positive impact on health outcomes. It has also been shown through most consumer surveys as one of the most pressing needs to be addressed. If we are truly serious about ending AIDS, we must address homelessness.
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