So much has been accomplished around HIV/AIDS. But so much more has to still be achieved before we can all go home and say, “Our job is done.”
This is especially true now in an environment of significant political turmoil at the state and national level, funding cuts coming from every direction, apathy about the epidemic from donors, volunteers, providers.
Yet, there still exists a huge and growing need to reduce stigma, increase access to care, change values and behaviors around sexual health and relationships, develop new efforts for drug-related HIV prevention — the list goes on and on!
It’s an exciting time to be a part of the HIV field for both medical and social services, yet a very, very challenging time as well.
HIV-positive individuals since the very beginning have had to be heroes for their own advocacy, health and lives — as well as that for others. It would be so easy right now in all the constraints of dollars and attitudes for many HIV professionals to throw their hands up and leave the field. In fact many have and are.
But instead, now is the time for heroes to stand up, push our chins up and march smartly forward on behalf of 1.6 million people living with this disease, and work to overcome all of the challenges before us, AND take full advantage of the opportunities in front of us all.
Evolution and revolution are not that far apart. Both are exciting to be a part of, to influence. Both are also more than a little intimidating, frightening in terms of the effect of “losing the battle,” and sacrificial in many ways of our personal lives in order to “win the battle.”
In times of trouble, adversity and closing doors, there are so many windows of opportunity for positive change for those of us willing to climb through them.
Raeline Nobles is executive director of AIDS Arms Inc.