World AIDS Day is the day we come together to remember and pay our respects to those who have come before us. Those who survived for a short time or for years, those who fought for us, those who loved us, those who died hard deaths, those who were afraid, those who were fighting to the end and those who went filled with love and compassion for those they left behind.
Many of the us, those living with HIV, our friends, loved ones, co-workers, communities, and those who freely joined us as part of the struggle – many of us have lost loved ones to AIDS. Our communities and our lives are brighter because they lived and yet we know that we are all less than we could be because a generation, sometimes two generations of people are gone.
It is my hope that we have more fight in us still to renew our efforts against the racism, sexism, homophobia, and other prejudices that fuel – and have always fuelled – the HIV epidemic. To do this will require that each of us with HIV and in this movement commit to understand and address our own prejudices and then to taking action, from a place of compassion, solidarity and strength to right the wrongs that still plague the response to HIV.
We, at GNP+, believe that a better world is still possible. We believe that a better world for people living with HIV will mean a better world for everyone. We know that people living with HIV, our people, are still without treatment in many places, and without quality treatment in others, still without proper diagnostics, still vulnerable to ARV resistance, still without enough food. We know that people living with HIV, our people, are still imprisoned because of their HIV status, still facing domestic violence, still without enough jobs and enough income. We know that people living with HIV, our people, still stand, shoulder to shoulder, and fight together for universal access to HIV testing and treatment, universal high quality health care, for legal protection from discrimination and against bad laws that criminalize us and those in our communities, and for the right to make decisions about our bodies, our families and reproduction, and who we are sexually intimate with. We still stand for ALL people livi
ng with HIV, gay men, lesbians, transgender people, heterosexual women and men, children and adolescents, babies and those who are elderly.
On behalf of GNP+, we want to thank all the people who stood with US and believed in US during the last few difficult years. For World AIDS Day 2017, we are launching a new strategic planning process. A survey will be released shortly for people living with HIV around the world. In this survey, the State of People Living with HIV: Back to Basics, we ask for your honest feedback and for your hopes and dreams for what a truly global movement of people living with HIV could look like. What could we do together?
If you are a person living with HIV, please watch our webpage and social media for the survey link. We ask everyone to forward this to everyone you know so that we can get the widest and most diverse set of PLHIV voices possible.
To everyone reading or listening to this message, thank you for your attention, time, love, criticism, support, and engagement with the Global Network of People Living with HIV in 2017.
The writer is Executive Director, Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+)
The views expressed in this article are of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Times.