If you didn't already know, December 1st is World AIDS Day. In doing a little background checking on this, it's hard to believe that 2008 marks the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day. From a medical standpoint, I think that we've made some great strides in this area. From a social and cultural standpoint, I remember the attitude around in the mid-1980s to HIV/AIDS - mainly because medicine didn't know a lot back then. Tapping into the pulse of America back at that time inspired movies like Philadelphia and And The Band Played On.
Even though HIV/AIDS education has come a long way in 20+ years, HIV/AIDS advocates still are driving toward more research and more education. And, I don't fault them for that. For this post, I'd like to highlight a letter to the editor from the Cleveland Plain Dealer from November 30, 2008:
I am a 20-year survivor living with AIDS, and another World AIDS Day (Monday) is fast approaching. Food trays once left at hospital room doors of those dying from AIDS are now being served. The preventative measure of "gown ing-up" has come and gone. However, the stigma of AIDS has stayed unchanged. Sadly, there are conflicting AIDS transmission fears and infection rates spiraling out of control.As I said above, from a medical point of view and patient/social education point of view, I think that we've done a pretty good job with HIV/AIDS education in the United States. Can more be done worldwide? Of course, more can be done - especially because numbers of those affected by HIV/AIDS are continuing to increase. If anything else, World AIDS Day keeps people aware, and I think it has done a good job at doing that.
I am blessed in that I am still here, with thinning hair, bifocals and my AARP card in hand. I am living proof of the incredible medical strides made in managing HIV/AIDS. I am blessed in living to see nieces and nephews come into my world and bring forth great-nieces and great-nephews. I am blessed in that I continue to continue. I still grieve for the many friends I've lost to AIDS.
This year, another 56,000-plus Americans will become needlessly infected with HIV/AIDS. We know how to prevent HIV infection. We need to wage a War on AIDS in America. We know how to win it.
Robert W. Toth -- Cleveland, OH
Update: Thanks to Dr. Val for mentioning this post on her Getting Better site today. I appreciate it!