Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Reflecting on World AIDS Day: Hope For the Future

December 02, 2011


My cousin has been living with HIV for the last decade. He's strong, healthy, and a force to be reckoned with. I'm grateful that he has access to lifesaving ARV treatment.

Like so many of you, AIDS has had a profound effect on my life and my family’s life. I spoke to my cousin Brad last night and told him how much I loved him and how proud I was to be working on such an important global health issue at a critical point in the fight against the disease.  He reminded me that while he’s incredibly grateful to be able to take one pill daily, without side effects, he still worries that one day it might stop working. 

“What would I do then?” he asked.

I didn’t have a good answer and it reminded me that there is still much work to be done. While today might be “the beginning of the end of AIDS,” for 34 million people living with HIV it’s ever present in their daily lives.

Now, more than ever before, we need to stretch HIV resources and be smarter about how we scale up prevention, treatment and research.

Here’s a snapshot of some personal stories shared by followers on our Facebook page over the week. 

Thank you all for sharing, and if you haven’t done so, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Shona Kambarami

…I'm Zimbabwean. I'm 26. I'm female. And I'm not HIV positive. I'm my generation - that last fact is almost an accident of birth. It's almost a miracle. Too many women who can claim a similar identity will be HIV positive. Are HIV positive. Through no fault of their own. We can beat this thing. We can turn it around. But we need to want to. We need to put humanity above profits. Make LIFE the bottom line. Support Universal Access.

Joan Seydel Sperger

We lost my nephew Tim to this horrible disease in 1995 at the age of 30. He was smart and funny and he was one of my favorite people in the world. His loss is one that is still painful for our family. As a nurse, I envision a day when the diagnosis of HIV is not an automatic death sentence and that babies of infected mothers are born virus-free. Education is the key - HIV is very preventable. We just need to get the word out to every single person that you can prevent the transmission of this disease through very simple means. I dream of the day when no mother has to lose a child to HIV and no family has to endure the loss of their loved one.

Erica Lovelace

So much has been achieved, but I'd love to see advancement in a 3-pronged approach: 1. better educating the policy-makers as to what works for the affected communities, 2. better logistics to get more ARVs (as well as contraception) to those that need them, & 3. (to which I'm very biased) better funding for early-career &/or cross-disciplinary scientists, since those are the people with the highly revolutionary ideas that may make a difference to the HIV epidemic 30 years on.

Ulash Thakore Dunlap

I remember at age 11 seeing the news in the late 1980's about AIDS. I felt compelled to do something and dedicated my school project to AIDS awareness. My friends and peers thought I was strange and odd at a time when no one really knew much about AIDS. Since then, I have worked with my community to educate them and start conversations. What gives me hope is my work with teens, our beautiful future! Working as a psychotherapist, I work with people, meeting them where they are at which provides me hope for the future!

Silvia Mariano da Silva

We can’t remain indifferent to the hopeless look of a suffering person. That lost look that shows all too well the emptiness of the soul of someone who’s lost that which is most precious – their health. Access, by everyone, to all types of information including disease prevention methods is what leads me to hope for an AIDS-free generation. Although many say that nothing can be done, we can begin by showing our affection through an embrace. Many times that’s all a suffering person needs. (Translated to English from Portuguese.)

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