December 01, 2023
Stonewall Columbus’ Executive Director comments at World AIDS Day event
In June 1981, the first cases of the illness now known as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) were first reported national in five young gay men from the LA area diagnosed with Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and other opportunistic infections.
World AIDS Day, designated on 1 December every year since 1988, is an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who have died of the disease.
The epidemic’s impact on the nation’s health was highlighted during 1995, when the cumulative number of reported AIDS cases surpassed one-half million. Of 513,486 persons with AIDS reported through December 1995, over 62 percent had died. In 1995 my mother died of complications due to the HIV/AIDS.
In the 80’s I was coming of age as HIV/AIDS was “coming of age” and society did not give me a long life expectancy. As a queer Black cis-male I was made to believe that death because of HIV/AIDS was my destiny…and yet it took my mother.
In 2019 a bold plan was announced called “Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE)”…this plan aims to end the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030. Agencies across the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services developed an operational plan to pursue that goal. The initiative seeks to reduce the number of new HIV infections in the United States by 75 percent by 2025, and then by at least 90 percent by 2030, for an estimated 250,000 total HIV infections averted.
In December of 2015 I began taking a daily pill that decreases the chances of my contracting HIV—PrEP.
Since the beginning of the epidemic, around 84.2 million [64.0–113.0 million] people have been infected with the HIV virus and about 40.1 million [33.6–48.6 million] people have died of HIV. Globally, 38.4 million [33.9–43.8 million] people were living with HIV at the end of 2021.
At 42 years and I’m still here; at 42 years I am still fighting for a life that was taken from me before I even had a chance to live it.