Remember when people from around the globe collaborated on a massive quilt that completely covered The Mall in Washington D.C.?
Remember when future Hall-of-Fame basketball great, Magic Johnson, shocked the world by retiring early and revealing he was HIV-positive?
For those of us who are considered Millennials (or Generation Y if you prefer), we’ve lived through a transformation. Arguably, one of the greatest societal shifts in perceptions and attitudes in modern history.
What most of us don’t remember is the Tom Hanks movie Philadelphia (we were too young to watch a PG-13 movie in 1993), or the notion that only homosexuals and drug addicts could contract the disease. I was discussing the history of AIDS awareness with a friend of mine, who, as part of Generation X, is slightly my elder. He remembered being confused when he was told that AIDS derived from monkeys. He also recalls the revolutionary event in TV history during MTV’s Real World: San Francisco, when Pedro Zamora brought a new level of humanity and familiarity to the issue. The time leading up to my day of recollection was supposedly filled with anxiety, misunderstanding and even judgment. But my experience of the cause has been far different.
Ever since I can remember, the fight against AIDS has been about finding solutions and helping people in need. A veil has been removed from the world’s eyes and we now see the tragedy for what it is. The true faces of the issue are revealed.
…It is the widow and the orphan in Africa.
…the mother and child in Asia.
…the most vulnerable.
I feel honored to have grown up on the sunny side of this journey. We should be able to celebrate the re-branding of the AIDS epidemic, from one of fear mongering, to one of compassion. A stigmatization with stereotypes, to a cause for justice.
Let me be clear, the fight is not over! And now that we know that ALL AIDS victims are innocent… we must finish the fight. We have no excuse to let up, and all the incentive in the world to love our infected brothers and sisters – past, present and future – through our dedication to rid the planet of the disease.
This World Aids Day, think about how your understanding of the AIDS epidemic has evolved. Think about what would have happened if the false perceptions and unhelpful stereotypes persisted. And think about the day when we are able to say…
“Remember when we fought to end AIDS… and SUCCEEDED?”
RESOURCES FOR WORLD AIDS DAY 2012 – December 1, 2012: