aidsoversixty

a reader's journal & virtual public artspace for poz platinum points of view, lgbt political & cultural activism & other metaphoric narratives of the struggle for social justice

Tuesday is National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day


NAPWA (National Association of People with AIDS) announces

The timing couldn’t be better: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell ended precisely one week before National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Service people who have sex with their own sex can now go to military doctors, talk frankly about what they did and with whom, and ask what tests they’d better take – without risking investigation and discharge from the armed forces. More testing and more frank talk means fewer new infections.

 This is a big win for Lieutenant Dan Choi – recipient of NAPWA’s Positive Leadership Award at AIDSWatch 2011 – and for all who worked so hard to make it happen. It’s also a big win for all gay men – especially those old enough to have grown up when our culture was saturated with self-esteem-destroying homophobic stereotypes. We’re seeing the culture move. A large majority of Americans think repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was the right thing to do, and they couldn’t think that if they still thought being gay was perverted or sick.

And with assaults on sexual minorities’ self-respect slowly losing credibility, sexual minorities are freer than ever before to stand up and demand what’s right for them and for all Americans. An end to stigma, and an end to AIDS.

That’s what National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is about: reminding gay men across America that the epidemic isn’t over and it’s our job to change that. Just this summer, Anthony Fauci stood before the International AIDS Society in Rome and said we now have the scientific tools we need to end the epidemic. Treatment-as-prevention works. Used well, PrEP can help keep very high-risk HIV-negatives negative. The barriers are human: stigma, poverty, an unequal healthcare system, and attempts to solve public health problems in the criminal justice system.

Those are human problems, not scientific ones, and what’s human can be changed. The end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell proves it. National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day tells all of us – straight, gay, and other – that change starts at home. Treating ourselves with self-respect. Getting tested. Protecting ourselves and our brothers and sisters. Fighting stigma and demanding care for all. BECAUSE WE MATTER

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