2011 is a personally significant year for me: it is the year that people I have personally known have died of AIDS.
In previous years, HIV/AIDS was a seemingly distant, though important, issue. Yes, I’ve been following several local blogs written by PLHIV or people living with HIV. Yes, I’ve been blogging about HIV/AIDS for quite sometime now. (In fact, this blog’s very first article had AIDS as one of its topics.) Yes, I’ve even written a couple of posts to mark December 1, or World AIDS Day. But it was only relatively recently that this issue has hit this close to home.
30 years after AIDS was first discovered, the effect of the growing incidence of HIV and AIDS among the local LGBT community is increasing in alarming amounts. What really bothers me is that I have this feeling that what’s happening now is similar to what happened in the United States back in the early 80s. You know that feeling of dread and fear? The feeling of hearing people, a friend, or a friend of a friend, dying of diseases that healthy people would have just sneezed at? The feeling of rising urgency brought on by alarming statistics? This should not be happening because of the benefit of retrospect and of lessons learned by lots of other people the hard way. Yet here we are.
I hope that all of the projects are making their mark and that more people are getting educated. I hope that the recent spike is just because more people are getting tested and that the numbers would stabilize soon. I hope that antiretroviral drugs would continue to be freely available to PLHIV. And I fervently hope that our biggest enemy, stigma—the one thing that really dampens our efforts to fight HIV/AIDS—would decline and never again rear its ugly head.