Little did we know 31 years ago, that this was the beginning of the epidemic of our generation—that over 25 million people around the world would lose their lives to AIDS. When the first Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report of this mysterious disease was released, we thought that the outbreak would be solved quickly and that would be the end of the story. But very rapidly, the number of cases escalated and in just a few years, the epidemic reached so many communities near and far.

Today is a day to recognize the lives lost to HIV/AIDS. As a physician in Harlem, New York at the height of the epidemic, I recall the individuals and families who fought against the relentless disease. It was a tumultuous and frustrating time, yet it taught us so many lessons—not just about disease and medicine, but about humanity, compassion, and family.

It is also a day to recognize the challenges that we have overcome and those we continue to face. We have all been a part of a transformation. HIV/AIDS has deepened the relationships of people around the world and has motivated us to rise and surmount enormous barriers. We must now focus on the work that remains to be done and remember that together the global community can get to zero HIV/AIDS infections.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday unveiled a “blueprint”:http://www.pepfar.gov/ to ending AIDS. This blueprint serves as a collective pathway to an AIDS-free generation. I urge you to read this plan, and join ICAP as we work together to reach an end to the epidemic.

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