Focus, Partner, Achieve – A World AIDS Day Reflection

The virus would surely kill him but not today. Today he was stable enough to be released. He would need the support of loved ones and constant medical care the rest of his remaining days but people were afraid of the virus and insisted on keeping it as far away as possible, even if it meant isolating its host…

Ebola isn’t the first deadly virus to come knocking on America’s door. Daily headlines of Ebola diagnoses brought the early days of HIV ignorance roaring back to life, a time when fear led so quickly to closed borders and hundreds, then thousands of people left to die, untouched and alone.

…He was no longer welcome to stay in this foreign land and the diagnosis now banned him from returning to his own….

What had humanity learned from its 25 year crusade against HIV that could provide solace as we squarely face Ebola today? Could fears be eased by facts as they had in the past? Most importantly, would compassion rise above our worries to heal the world?

…Yet there were those who were not afraid, their ignorance eradicated by knowledge. Brave souls who knew there was no danger, chose to mask the stigma-laden facts and sent him home with dignity.

My brother got lucky in the midst of his most ill-fated days to know such bravery at the time of his AIDS diagnosis decades ago. There’s hope in the similar stories of heroic boldness in the presence of this Ebola outbreak. It causes me to linger on the “World” of World AIDS Day and reflect on the tenacity of a global generation that lassoed HIV and maintains a tight grasp to postpone its devastating spiral to a fatal AIDS diagnosis. What began as an ego-driven race to exclusive credit for the next breakthrough evolved into dependence on global partnerships, a humbling acceptance that one size treatment, delivery method, prevention message does not fit all and AIDS cannot be defeated until the world is cured.

HIV, like Ebola, is an equal opportunity virus that laughs at the walls and closed doors containing our fear. To defeat such a beast requires no less than the message contained in this year’s theme for the World AIDS Day goal to bring about an AIDS-free generation – Focus, Partner, Achieve. Cure the world.

– Tracy Daugherty

© essay Tracy Daugherty, All rights reserved.