Have you heard? June 5 is HIV Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day. The 2017 day was bigger than ever. It is so thrilling to have HLTSAD garner so much attention.
For too long HIV Long-Term Survivors have been forgotten and invisible in the current HIV care and media landscapes. It’s beginning to change. This year we made a great leap forward. We have much more work to do.
As we say in the HIV Long-Term Survivors Declaration, “Our work will continue as long as there is one isolated survivor left in that lonely room.”
The 2017 theme is “HIV-Resilient.” Unlike other HIV Awareness Days, our theme is not just for the day. It drives our work throughout the year. Because around here Every Day Is HIV Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day. This means use every opportunity to you get to tell your story of survival. A chance to focus on our strengths.
In this current hostile political environment we are under fire because our “pre-exisiting conditions”. That’s why it is more important than ever for us to tell our stories of survival and living through the AIDS epidemic.
To that end, and in keeping with the “HIV-Resilient” theme, Let’s Kick ASS encourages long-term HIV survivors and others to utilize social media to tell their stories of survivors’ resilience. Organizers hope that long-term survivors and their families and friends will share their stories through writing, photographs, and/or videos to celebrate the resilience of a long-battered community that has turned “surviving” into “thriving” despite incredible odds.
Using the hashtags #HIVResilient, #HLTSAD2017, and #LongTermSurvivors.
Thank you to everyone who spoke up, organized events and showed survivors some love. Below are collection of some the press and posts that happened on or around the day.*
* I know I’m leaving something out but honestly it was hard to keep up it all.
Some Recent Amazingness
A collection articles published around HLTSAD.
Richard Wolitski, Ph.D., Acting Director, Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services wrote an amazing piece about being a long-term survivor:
“June 5th marks the day when the first report of what would come to be known as AIDS was published in 1981. That is why we chose it as the day to launch HIV.gov — and it’s also the reason that it was chosen to observe HIV Long-Term Survivors Day. This year, the theme for the observance is ‘HIV-Resilient.’”
He finishes the article with this…
“And that’s where HIV Long-Term Survivors Day and its focus on resilience can help us. Those of us who have survived decades of life with HIV recognize the importance of resilience. For me, resilience is that strength you call up from deep inside yourself — strength that you didn’t know you had. I also see resilience as the feeling that you have a purpose in life and that you are loved, which gives you the persistence you need to push through, even in the darkest times.
But personal resilience isn’t enough. It’s important to recognize that support from family, friends, and communities can strengthen HIV resilience by their support for long-term survivors.
We still have much to learn about the needs and experiences of long-term HIV survivors and to be prepared to care for the needs of an aging population of people living with HIV. I am glad that HIV Long-Term Survivors Day gives us a chance to talk about these experiences, to listen to those who are able and willing to tell their stories, to find some healing for ourselves, and to renew our national commitment to meeting the needs of long-term survivors. They are our witnesses to history, our warriors in the fight against HIV, and our heroes.