December 1st marks World AIDS Day, when people from all around the world commemorate the fight against HIV/AIDS by honoring the more than 25 million people who have died, as well as reaffirming the promise to help the 33+ million people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs). Twenty-three years after the first World AIDS Day was celebrated in 1987, we’re reminded of the struggles that continually face PLWHAs abroad, and here at home in the United States.
The red ribbon has come to symbolize hope in the fight against the deadly disease, as well as remember the lives lost since HIV/AIDS first started its devastating impact. The red ribbon – which can be seen on celebrities wearing lapel pins to churches hanging ribbons from their steeples, and postage stamps to designer t-shirts – embodies the spirit that drives people to help others living with HIV/AIDS, or even those who have dedicated their lives to fighting the epidemic.
In issuing his Presidential Proclamation, President Obama said, “Today, we are experiencing a domestic HIV epidemic that demands our attention and leadership. My Administration has invigorated our response to HIV by releasing the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States. Its vision is an America in which new HIV infections are rare, and when they do occur, all persons regardless of age, gender, race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or socio-economic circumstance will have unfettered access to high quality, life extending care.”
WE encourages everyone supporting our movement to learn more about how you can help PLWHAs in your local community! Whether it’s donating clothes to an HIV/AIDS-sponsored thrift store, delivering meals, driving patients to/from medical appointments or even making a tax-deductible donation to a local AIDS Service Organization, anything – everything – that you do really does help!
Non-cash donations, such as furniture, clothes, appliances and art prints and frames, can be made to thrift stores such as Out of the Closet, Shop Housing Works, Lifelong Thrift Store or Philadelphia AIDS Thrift, just to name a few. Or maybe you would be willing to volunteer at a local AIDS Service Organization, such as Broward House in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Shanti in San Francisco, California, Regional AIDS Interfaith Network in Charlotte, North Carolina or AIDS Services of Dallas in Dallas, Texas.
WE sees philanthropic initiatives all across the United States designed to provide assistance to PLWHAs who need it – including pharmaceutical companies participating in the Heinz-Welvista program. As previously blogged, Welvista is a “unique public-private partnership of non-governmental healthcare intervention.” With over 4,000 PLWHAs waiting to access their life-saving medications via the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (a federal-state program designed to provide medications for people who are uninsured or under-insured) domestically, it is an initiative WE strongly supports!
With racial and ethnic minorities being disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS, there exists opportunities to establish partnerships and leverage relationships to help address ongoing trends, as well as raise awareness with younger generations as is being done by the Flowers Heritage Foundation. Since PLWHAs are living longer, and healthier – with evidence showing that more PLWHAs are now over the age of 50 – it also poses new challenges to link this aging population to the unique supports and services that they need.
The WE Movement has committed itself to continue to help PLWHAs in the United States! We have joined, will you? Learn more at http://www.wemovement.org/.