Today is World AIDS Day

I'm not sure what I have to offer on this topic tonight.  First, let me direct you to some other offerings.

Pam's House Blend shares some comments from our President-Elect:

Today, because of the work of people like you, women in Kenya who were widowed by the disease, and once shunned by society, have banded together to support and empower each other.  Scientists around the world are discovering and engineering new medicines to give people with HIV/AIDS another chance at life. NGOs and faith-based institutions are marshaling the best of the human spirit to help those affected.  And world governments are coming together to address the humanitarian crisis the pandemic has left in its wake.  I salute President Bush for his leadership in crafting a plan for AIDS relief in Africa and backing it up with funding dedicated to saving lives and preventing the spread of the disease. And my administration will continue this critical work to address the crisis around the world.

But we must also recommit ourselves to addressing the AIDS crisis here in the United States with a strong national strategy of education, prevention and treatment, focusing on those communities at greatest risk. This strategy must be based on the best available science and built on the foundation of a strong health care system.

But in the end this epidemic can't be stopped by government alone, and money alone is not the answer either. All of us must do our part.

This year's slogan, “Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise” is a timely one.  In the Apostle Paul's letter to the Corinthians, he asked “if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?”  We as leaders must continue to sound that call and encourage others to see themselves as leaders in this fight.  And we must reaffirm our own commitment to confront and defeat this disease once and for all.

Thank you for your extraordinary work that you do each and every day.  I am humbled by your devotion to this cause and look forward to working with you and new partners in this effort in the years ahead.

Towleroad:

33 million people worldwide are living with HIV, which includes 2.7 million total new cases in 2007.

Above is the Keith Haring balloon which debuted on Thursday in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Haring died of AIDS-related complications at the age of 31 on February 16, 1990. He would have turned 50 in the coming year. It is a wish fulfilled for Haring, who always dreamed of having his work in the traditional New York holiday event. Photo by flickr user Ben + Sam.

New York dedicated a long-awaited AIDS memorial for the 81100+ New Yorkers who have died due to AIDS and AIDS related complications.

Catch much more at PageOneQ.

But, what about here in Pittsburgh?  I have to admit that AIDS has not personally touched my life, at least not that I'm aware of right now.  I know that many of my friends, especially those who were adults 20 years ago, have lost dear friends and family.  When they speak about that era, it feels so unknowable to me … perhaps because I was a kid and oblivious.  Don't get me wrong. I knew about the AIDS pandemic in an intellectual way.  I saw the Quilt in DC one summer. I wore ribbons.  I believed.  I just didn't know. 

I'm amazed that I've come this far.  Far too many of my heterosexual adult female friends and acquaintances engage in unsafe sex practices, either to please their male lovers or out of simple ignorance.  They are playing with fire. My circle of friends in the gay community continues to expand and I suppose that I know people who are HIV+ but just don't “know” it because of advances in medical treatment. 

I hope that President Obama will help us confront and challenge the barriers that threaten the lives around the world.  I hope that here in Pittsburgh folks will continue to support the good work of Persad Center, the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force and the Shepherd Wellness Center.  And I hope we will all work toward the days when all men and women who identify as part of the LGBTQ community live openly and proudly, making good decisions about their sexual activity for their own protection and the protection of their partners.

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