In this changing world let’s change the way we talk about HIV.
The world has changed. Science has changed.
On December 1 let’s change the way we talk about this epidemic.
Let’s refer to the day as World HIV Day. It’s time.
Changing how we refer to December 1 is an opportunity to shift the narrative around HIV. The landscape of the epidemic has dramatically shifted. We now know that if a person living with HIV is on treatment and undetectable they can live a long and healthy life. We also know that if one is undetectable it is impossible to transmit the virus. This is huge, life-changing information for people living with HIV and those working in the field.
Additionally, PrEP has changed the prevention options for HIV-negative people. The daily HIV prevention pill gives people more control over their sexual health and reduces fear and anxiety around sex. People have more prevention options than ever before and that is a very good thing.
This epidemic has never been just about a virus but about the social structures that allowed the epidemic to thrive. December 1 is a chance to stimulate meaningful conversation about combatting HIV-related stigma. It’s a demonstration that speaking openly and honestly about HIV is nothing to be ashamed of.
People living with HIV and our allies must lead World HIV Day. For too long this has been a day administered by large and disconnected institutions. The evolution of World HIV Day is an opportunity to center the day on the most impacted communities and the struggles they continue to face.
It’s a chance to recommit ourselves to the fight for equality and social justice in an increasingly hostile world.
What we call December 1 may evolve but the day continues to be an opportunity to recommit ourselves to some fundamental principles.
- Healthcare is a fundamental human right and all persons have a right to quality healthcare regardless of sexual orientation, gender expression, ethnicity, age, income, immigration status, or HIV status.
- People living with HIV must be allowed to determine their own care and must have accurate information, particularly around the benefits of achieving an undetectable viral load for personal health, as well as, HIV prevention
- All individuals have a right to antiretroviral medication regardless of HIV status
- Equality and social justice are fundamental. We cannot end an epidemic without advancing human rights.
AIDS was our past and HIV is our present but our future can be a world where we ended a virus, not just by relying on science, but by coming together as a global community.
We urge others to sign on to this letter of support to change the way we talk about and respond to this epidemic.