It has been a couple of weeks between posts but I thought it was time to consider a post that looks at an event that is coming up on December 1 and talk about its relevance in 2014 and beyond. Of course, many of you know it is World AIDS Day but many will not know the day or have engaged with it before!
For me this day has many meanings and its impact does not diminish because it is a reminder that even in 2014 HIV is still here with us and still an important issue for each of us to address in our lives. It is also a time for me personally to reflect on all of those people that have been lost to this disease. We seem to be so focussed on living well, getting on with our lives and moving forward that the time to stop and think about all of those who have gone before us gets forgotten.
There have been so many people that have touched my life in the past 30 years when I attended the first meeting to put the WA AIDS Council together who are no longer here. They are the ones that on December 1 I remember and mourn the loss of. I am a very positive person and focus on moving ahead with my life but I also recognise the wonderful people who I have been blessed to have come into my life and who have touched my soul and help to make me a better person. Even though they are no longer with us they remain locked in my heart and my memory. We all need to reflect on their contribution to each of our journeys and celebrate their lives.
I sometimes allow the tears to flow for the loss of these wonderful people who were lost to us much too soon but also celebrate the fact that I am still here to continue the work that many of them begun.
World AIDS Day is also about the world and not just a local community. This is an epidemic that really knows no boundaries or barriers and crosses them and affects all of us. We are each touched in very different ways, as a person living with the virus or as someone who has someone in their life who is positive but we are all touched and we need to think not just about our local communities but also about the work around us and supporter, donate and give to those who do not have the same access to treatments and care that we have.
We need to give and support each other as we move forward after over 30 years of this epidemic. It is sometimes easy to forget that for many of the countries closest to us here in Australia that they struggle for money for education, for treatment, for care and support structures and for basic human rights when it comes to HIV and it is up to us to assist and support them in any way we can.
That can be as simple as choosing a local charity in Thailand for example and making a regular donation that will assist them in their work. Each of us has the ability to really make a difference whilst always remembering our home situation and how even here in Australia we are still dealing with stigma on a daily basis for living with HIV and trying to live the best lives that we can. Our community still has not learnt to fully embrace people with HIV and still regularly make choices that discriminate.
In 2014 as World AIDS Day approaches we should all ensure that we are educated about this virus, how it impacts our lives and we can all take a shared responsibility in stopping the stigma and discrimination our their in our community.
Finally a quote from Ban Ki Moon, United Nations Secretary-General.
“HIV stigma remains the single most important barrier to public action… it helps make AIDS the silent killer, because people fear the social disgrace of talking about it or taking easily available precautions. Stigma is the chief reason why the AIDS epidemic continues to devastate societies around the world.”