Increasing awareness has helped us make strides in HIV prevention and treatment, but still, populations like black communities, black women, and people in prisons are experiencing disproportionate rates of infection. As you know, I believe in the power of sharing stories, as Catherine Wyatt-Morley bravely does in this story of learning to live with HIV and without shame. But this article contains the words "Hers was not the face of HIV."
Is there a real face of HIV? The idea that there is suggests that we could just close our eyes and forget that face, rather than remembering that it could be the face of our brother, our sister, or the face we see in the mirror. The photography project "A Day with HIV in America" features folks with powerful stories about living with and caring for those with HIV and AIDS, and it shows a great variety of faces. It's a stunning example of how telling stories through art can open our eyes to the world we live in, moving beyond the silence and shame, the myths and hurtful stigma that allow this disease to continue knocking on our doors. If we never answer, never face the truth, it doesn't change the world we live in. It just leaves us in the dark, afraid to step into the light.
So, what will you do for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day? Get tested? Spread the word? Attend an event? There's no reason to fear this day, or any other day on which AIDS is part of our reality. We got this.