Tag Archives: education

Why men who have sex with men commemorate World AIDS Day

So as busy as I am (I have an exam tomorrow) I could not let today slip by (although its actually already Dec. 2 here 12:15 am) without taking a few moments to write about why as a community of men who have sex with men we (and I ) commemorate World AIDS day.   I at first wanted to write “celebrate”  but didn’t know if this was an appropriate term – however I do know that many of us are indeed celebrating the lives of many we have lost over the past thirty years.  Why we as a global community of men who have sex with men we commemorate World AIDS Day December 1:

1) There is still no cure: We must make policy makers aware that further funding needs to be dedicated to a cure for this virus – and current developments such as vaccines and rectal microbicides should be funded at a maximum level.  Infection rates continue to rise among men who have sex with men, and research into current and future developments need to continue to be funded until a cure is found.

2) To fight stigma: Millions of individuals are living with this virus and although there is global attention paid to the cause of HIV, tremendous stigma still exists against HIV+ individuals all over the world, especially HIV+ men who have sex with men. The truth is when we think of HIV, even on World AIDS day, one prefers to think about the pregnant mother acquiring the virus and transmitting it to her baby, rather than the thousands of MSM who contract the disease annually.

3) To remember those we have lost: Although I was born just at the beginning of the epidemic so many of my friends have lost loved ones – friends, relatives neighbors.  Today is a day to remember and honor the memories of these individuals.

4) To instill hope in a new generation of young men who have sex with men: HIV is still on the rise in our community, and young individuals who have not grown up in a generation of fear and loss must be educated and made aware of HIV, to prevent future epidemics and loss.  The generation who knows “a pill a day” must fully understand what it is like to live with HIV on a daily basis, and how to protect themselves from the virus.

5) People still die from HIV and AIDS related complications: While it is true excellent medications currently exist, the truth is some individuals, including long terms survivors will eventually loose their battle with HIV.  Because there is no cure (see #1) we must continue to acknowledge, that although a chronic treatable disease,  HIV does have the potential to kill men who have sex with men, especially in settings where treatments are not available.  For this reason we must continue to educate others and lobby our policymakers to make HIV/AIDS a top priority of the areas where they govern.

6) HIV truly does affect the world: Men who have sex with men are getting HIV in every nation.  Men of every socioeconomic level from every country will continue to acquire HIV from having sex with other men unless increased attention is paid to education, stigma against homosexuality is removed,  barriers to healthcare that exist in the MSM population are torn away, and laws that criminalize homosexuality are made a thing of the past.

7) Hope. Looking back and seeing the progress we have made as a world, and as a MSM community against HIV gives me renewed hope.  I am always optimistic on Dec. 1, despite the horrible toll that HIV has had on our community.

Until there is a cure we will continue to observe World AIDS Day.  It is my hope that in my lifetime, that all individuals, including my MSM brothers will be able to list HIV as one of the eradicated viruses of our time.