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December First is World AIDS Day

By Lori Perkins

Image Taken from Dr. Jill Biden's Instagram

As we prepare to hunker down for what looks like another round of COVID-19 lockdown (or some variation), the fact that today is the 33rd annual World AIDS Day will definitely get lost in the new wave of 2021 fears. For many, they really can’t remember a time when AIDS was ravaging and taking the lives of so many young men and women.

But I do. I came of age in the late 70s, early 80s in New York City, so it was very real for me. My mother was a chaplain at Bellevue Hospital, where she was the only religious person willing to visits the AIDS patients. As a woman in her 40s at the time, she became their surrogate mom, because many of her patients had been abandoned by their families. She even raised money for them when they were released from the hospital to make their lives slightly better.

Many people I knew and loved died, or contracted HIV and live/lived limited lives, and some are still taking medication decades later. AIDS did not go away, although we have improved care for those who have the disease, it is still with us.

UNAIDS said HIV infections are following lines of inequality and are not falling fast enough to stop the pandemic, as 1.5 million new HIV infections were reported in 2020. “It is still possible to end the epidemic by 2030,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres affirmed. “But that will require stepped-up action and greater solidarity. To beat AIDS —and build resilience against the pandemics of tomorrow—we need collective action.”

World AIDS Day was designated as the first day of December in 1988 as an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who have died of the disease.

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