For personal reasons the plight of AIDs victims, both locally and worldwide, means a lot to me. It's not as easy to discuss at the office as is many other good causes or at least not at my current office. But in the past I worked alongside HIV positive survivors. And they were as normal as you and me. Outwardly they were healthy but I know many struggled with health problems. I attended the 50th birthday of somebody who had been diagnosed 10 years before and thought it was a death sentence. I held back tears when he quietly said he was happy to reach age 50 because when he was diagnosed he didn't think he would live that long.
Antiretrovirals in treating AIDs have come a long way. Early drugs had horrible side effects so those with the disease suffered both from immune deficiency related problems as well as terrible side effects just to keep themselves alive. The drugs have improved a lot since then. And maybe that's why people start to forget. It's no longer an immediate death sentence. But neither is it something that doesn't cut back the invaluable lifespans of people just like you and me. So we can not forget. We have to hope for a cure. And more importantly, a wider availability of treatment for the people who need it. The drugs are very expensive and as we all know there is a healthcare crisis in this country. Many people do not have health insurance to afford the drugs and neither can they afford the regular care and treatment they need to keep living with the disease. We need to keep pressing so that we don't leave behind the people in this country who could be so easily treated. And of course it is imperative that becomes a worldwide mandate where lifesaving drugs and medical care continue to be made available to the people who need it everywhere.
I don't ask you to donate to an AIDs charity today, but if you can I hope you do. You can stop by AIDS.gov to read more about efforts and events going on today (and year round). Read the statement from the Whitehouse and from our secretary of state as well as many of the international sites promoting this event. You can stop by GiveWell.org and Keep a Child Alive. I hope you will at least take today to become aware of the events in your community and be not afraid to discuss this with your friends and colleagues.