Source Author: Christopher Cuevas
Originally Posted on: huffingpost.com
December 1, 2017 marks the 20th year we honor World Aids Day, a sacred time for us to lament on the passing of those that have gone before us, those that have cleared the path for countless individuals to live their lives openly and honestly in owning our status, those that have tirelessly advocated for the recognition of our community and the need for care, those that have sacrificed their bodies for the greater movement, and those that have taught us that we can thrive in living in our truth and accepting ourselves wholly.
While we honor the legacies of our fallen, celebrate the precious memories of our loved ones, and embrace those around us who are active in the struggle of health equity and ending stigma we must also be critical, internally and externally, of the ways in which we speak, serve, and care on an institutional and interpersonal level about those directly impacted by HIV.
As we work diligently across sectors championing for justice in our respective works, we cannot allow ourselves to become siloed; we must take action to be in solidarity with the struggles of our peoples and not turn an ear to the cries of our kin fighting for their lives. We must hold ourselves, and our movements, equally accountable in assurance that when we speak about and fight to achieve universal healthcare and the establishment of health equity we name the fight for HIV care and commit to advocate for those living with HIV and to center their narratives and leadership.
We must ensure that our campaigns are intentional in their design, accessible in their approach, and inclusive of all bodies living with HIV; we must be willing, as a collective movement, to reassess our approach and reach within our communities to empower those that have been historically under-invested and under-resourced to lead the work and guide the future of the movement; we must be comprehensive in our approach to educating our youth about our history and provide space to unlearn the harshness and violence that has been perpetuated by anti-HIV stigma, homophobia, and transphobia; we must end the criminalization of those living with HIV; and, we must demand that the healthcare industry, physicians, and clinicians exude socio-cultural humility for Queer and Transgender Black and Latinx communities who continue to be the most disproportionately impacted by HIV and experience the greatest disparities in adequate prevention and treatment.
As we entrench ourselves in the fight for social liberation we have the shared responsibility of showing up and speaking out. This is the moment where we must pivot our activism and lean forward into a place of change. For us to inspire a culture of transformation we must root ourselves in the authentic practice of solidarity and challenge systems and institutions that limit capital to those most in need of support and care. We must make advocacy for HIV a priority now, and always. When we work to liberate the most criminalized, most marginalized, and historically oppressed we are working toward the shared liberation of us all.