Today is World AIDS Day. First held in 1988, World AIDS Day is held on December 1 each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. I remember hearing about HIV/AIDS about 30 years ago and wondered what it was, if it was just going to be an illness that was somewhat rare, and ultimately someething not to be worried about by the general public. My questions were answered throughout the 1980’s and into the 1990’s. This was an illness that did go mainstream, whose path of destruction engulfed men, women, children, communities, even countries. When I think about those things that have defined my generation, the emergence of AIDS is surely part of that discussion.
But we are a resilient group, we who are part of the human race. While understanding of the disease may have been somewhat stunted, and treatment options severely limited early on, things have certainly picked up over the past decade. What has also changed is the amout of work done by all types of organizations – governmental, grassroots, international – that are working to engage those with HIV/AIDS and those who may be vulnerable to the spread of the illness. Our friends at Right to Play, Grassroot Soccer, Alive and Kicking and many others are part of that group of sports-related entities who are key in addressing gaps in HIV/AIDS education, along with in understanding and respecting those who have the illness. That includes not only not shunning them, but making sure they stay engaged in life.
On this and every day we applaud these organizations and others who fight tirelessly to one day erase the most dire consequences of this illness. In fighting, they are surely winners.
To learn more about World AIDS Day and how to contribute to the effort today and after, please visit http://www.hrc.org/apps/wad/?gclid=CIqo3YuM4awCFQdN4Aod9idhog and http://aids.gov/world-aids-day/.