Beyond commemoration, our continuing actions
Statement of TLF Share Collective on the occasion of the 2020 International AIDS Candlelight Memorial
TLF Share joins the global community in commemorating those we lost to HIV and AIDS. Beyond commemoration, we recognize the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial as a platform to continue raising awareness and providing accurate information about HIV and AIDS.
“I remember, I take action, I live beyond HIV", this year's theme couldn’t be more apt and timely as the whole world reels from the COVID-19 pandemic. The inaction and some of the actions of people and institutions towards the COVID-affected and infected remind us of the struggles of people living with HIV (PLHIV) had gone through and continue to go through. The stigma and discrimination that come with being suspected of and actually carrying the COVID-19 virus are harsh and painful, similar to those experienced by PLHIV. The first HIV cases were nearly 40 years ago but the stigma and discrimination persist today.
It is not just stigma that impacts PLHIV during this time of COVID-19. Life-saving antiretrovirals (ARV) have not reached all those who are in need; the ARV are harder to access now because of the lockdowns and mobility restrictions. Treatment of opportunistic infections that are non-COVID are not a priority in hospitals because the health system is understandably in near surge capacity with the management of COVID-19 cases. Outreach and other HIV prevention services among key populations have been insufficient, but more so now due to physical distancing. We are likely to get further off track from our HIV prevention targets in the coming months.
TLF Share sees that this pandemic and the fight to end AIDS as both opportunities for us to strengthen our resolve to persevere in taking action, actions that push for our right to a better health care system. These are actions that ensure genuine participation of those infected and their families, of those at most risk, of those who treat and care for patients, of those who work with PLHIV and vulnerable communities – of people. These are actions that create communities and societies that will always strive for a better quality of life for all.
Today, we remember not only those that we have lost. We also remember our commitment to every one for whom we continue to fight for a better life. HIV and COVID-19 do not -- should not -- define who we are and what we will be. As long as we can remember, learn and act, we all can live beyond HIV and any other health crisis to come our way.
(Image Credit: pixabay.com/users/klimkin-1298145/)