Each year, World AIDS Day is a bittersweet moment. We remember the many lives we have lost, honor the determination of people around the world to save lives, and renew our commitment to a future without AIDS. We celebrate the achievements made in the fight against HIV and acknowledge that these gains are fragile. We reflect on the impact of the global epidemic on our own lives and re-energize ourselves to overcome the challenges that remain.
Thirty years into the global epidemic, it is critically important that as we look forward, we also understand the lessons that have been learned. A new generation is needed that will commit to expanding HIV prevention and treatment. On December 2, in recognition of World AIDS Day, ICAP brought together the community of faculty, staff and students from the Mailman School of Public Health for a screening of the movie “And the Band Played On,” followed by a panel discussion. The movie eloquently describes the tragedy of the early years of the epidemic in the US and the years of political inaction. The panel discussion included speakers who shared experiences from New York City, China and Kenya in the historic response to the HIV epidemic and the current status of the epidemic. There was a vibrant conversation about the lessons learned that should guide the future response to the epidemic.
Recently, I had the opportunity to join a discussion focused on fresh thinking and disruptive strategies to end AIDS, as part of a town hall on AIDS hosted by The Atlantic and the MAC AIDS Fund. Similarly, the panelists focused on the question of what it will take to increase our momentum in the fight against HIV going forward.
Last year on World AIDS Day, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton announced a blueprint for efforts to achieve an AIDS-free generation. Over the last year, ICAP has set its sights on this goal—expanding treatment for people living with HIV, working to prevent new infections, and building stronger health systems to protect and build on these gains. As we acknowledge World AIDS Day, let us take a moment to reflect while at the same time let us renew our commitment to continue vanquishing this epidemic.