Milestones, crossroads mark World AIDS Day 2017Feature Story, Latest Issue, Section 4A, Top Highlights Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017
Leading activists in San Diego and around the globe are urging the LGBTQ and allied communities to resist the temptation to think of World AIDS Day 2017 as just a time to reflect on the pandemic’s past.
“We must ensure that people who do not know their HIV status are diagnosed and linked to care and treatment as early as possible,” implores Rear Admiral, Deputy Surgeon General Sylvia Trent-Adams, PhD, RN, FAAN, writing for HIV.gov.
The federal government’s somewhat densely worded if not byzantine message for this year’s World AIDS Day observance – at least as voiced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – riffs on the theme, “Increasing Impact through Transparency, Accountability, and Partnerships.” Deputy Surgeon General Trent-Adams cites recently collected, relatively stark data to drive home the transparency and accountability portions of that message.
“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2014, of the 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States, an estimated 166,000 [or 15 percent] of people did not know their status,” she continues. “According to the United Nations AIDS Gap Summary Report of 2016, an estimated 40 percent of people living with HIV worldwide did not know their status and 62 percent were not virally suppressed.”
A former top administrator at the Health Resources and Services Administration HIV/AIDS Bureau, Trent-Adams believes people who don’t know their status pose a particular challenge to decreasing the spread of HIV and attaining the goal of ending HIV/AIDS in the U.S.
Activists and prevention advocates say World AIDS Day 2017 is the perfect time to renew efforts to educate the public about the benefits of getting tested for the HIV virus.
In the U.K. the message for World AIDS Day 2017 couldn’t be simpler: Aimed at stopping everything from misinformation to discrimination and bigotry against people who are HIV-positive, as well as ending the existence of the virus itself, “Let’s End It!” is both a WAD17 hashtag – and a public-health slogan layered with manifold meaning.
More than 100,000 people now live with HIV in the U.K. But there’s been good news of late.
“This year in the U.K. there have been the first significant reductions in HIV diagnoses for gay men in London, thanks to frequent testing, rapid treatment and PrEP,” public health officials have declared.
WorldAIDSDay.org calls the current moment, “an exciting turning point.” But, organizers add, “We need a new burst of energy to end stigma, end HIV transmission and end the isolation experienced by people living with HIV, for good.”
Locally, organizers at University of California, San Diego have outdone themselves with a flurry of diverse WAD17 activities that begin Monday, Nov. 27 with a dose of snark. Tongue-in-cheek as is a planned sing-along’s title, its impetus must surely have been a licensing issue.
The “Tenant’s Regular Payment to Landlord for use of property/land” sing-along will presumably include tunes from, or similar to those featured in, a very famous Broadway musical about the late-20th century AIDS crisis in New York City. But don’t worry, the 6-8 p.m. event at the UCSD Women’s Center won’t cost you a full month’s (ahem) rent; it’s free.
Other World AIDS Day 2017 events unfolding at UCSD in the days leading up to and including Dec. 1, the traditional observance date each year since WAD’s inception in 1988, include a World AIDS Day crafting event. Goers can fashion their own red-ribbon keychain and gather information about other WAD17 events on campus.
One such is a screening of How to Survive a Plague, “a modern documentary focusing on the activism of communities who fought the AIDs epidemic.” According to organizers, the film focuses on ACT UP and TAG – two groups “credited with saving” as many as 16 million lives by raising awareness and demanding treatment and prevention services from formerly unresponsive government agencies and local communities.
Another film screening, also on the USCD campus, features Fire in the Blood– a documentary that rips the veil off of Big Pharma’s role allegedly blocking access in the Global South (formerly called “third-world countries”) to AIDS medicines even now, “…an act that has been called the ‘Corporate Crime of the Century,’” say organizers of the screening.
The breadth and depth of UCSD’s World AIDS Day program is impressive. From lectures and workshops open to the public, including one with the title, Gender Buffet: World AIDS Day Today, and another organized under the moniker PrEP and PEP with Dr. Kadakia, to a flashmob at the university’s Price Center West Outdoor Plaza, plus a special ringing of the chimes at the Geisel Library, as well as HIV testing in the privacy of a mobile testing bus, and art exhibits, this article can mention only a handful of the WAD17 activities the university has planned.
The San Diego LGBT Community Center is another local organization that hosts World AIDS Day events and provides guidance to other community groups about how to successfully observe the annual coming together. However, at press time it had yet to post announcements about WAD17 events to be held at The Center’s Hillcrest location on its website.
City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez, the honorary mayor of Hillcrest, is heartened by recent progress fighting HIV/AIDS.
“For 40 years, I have seen the true humanity, compassion, and nobility of the GLBT community,” Ramirez said. “Family and friends were the unsung heroes of the early, dark years of AIDS when indeed silence equaled death. It was our lesbian sisters and women – they stood and cared for their brothers and never ever left our side. God bless them.”
Ramirez founded the San Diego County AIDS Assistance Fund, was cofounder of People of Color AIDS Survival Network, Tijuana AIDS Fund and founder of the San Diego AIDS Memorial Project.
World AIDS Day Resources
For more information on HIV and AIDS, visit the following sites:
cdc.gov/hiv/ Centers for Disease Control HIV/AIDS Site
unaids.org/en/ UN AIDS
hnrc.hivresearch.ucsd.edu UC San Diego HIV Neurobehavior Research Center (HNRC)
health.ucsd.edu/specialties/owen/ UC San Diego Owen Clinic
thecentersd.org The San Diego LGBT Community Center
fhcsd.org Family Health Centers of San Diego
aidshealth.org AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=84228