World AIDS Day - We Remember

December 1, 2009

It's World AIDS Day.

And we remember.

We remember the 25 million people who have died of AIDS since the epidemic began.

We remember that there are more than 33 million people in the world who are living with HIV now.

We remember that each year, nearly 3 million people are newly infected with HIV in the world.

We remember that almost every one of those new cases could have been been prevented.

We remember that the United States took too long to respond to the epidemic, and that U.S. policies privileging abstinence over condoms and safer sex education still put people around the world at risk.

I remember my friends and colleagues who died way too young -- Bill, Danny, Billy, Stuart, Lacey, Marjorie, Damien, Michael. You have your list too.

And we remember those who insisted on a sane, compassionate, realistic response to the epidemic: to my brave colleagues in Act Up, local health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, the WHO. Those who continue to work to make sure we do not forget and we do not give up working for prevention and services for people living with AIDS and adequate medications and education for everyone.

We remember -- with love and a conviction that there is still so much more work we must do.

Rev. Debra W. Haffner is executive director of the Religious Institute in Westport, CT.  The Religious Institute is a national, multifaith organization dedicated to promoting sexual health and sexual justice in religious communities and society at large.  Among its priorities are the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons in faith communities and HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.  We encourage your support of the vital work of the Religious Institute.  To make a tax-deductible donation, click here:

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While remembering, would you remember this? There are those of us who have lived with this so- called virus for 22 (or more) years and are tired of your bullshit rejection and stigmatization. Your illogic invariably is as follows: if he says he is "negative," you will believe him; if he says he is positive you will reject him. So we are assuming gay men never lie? Hmm.. don't you live in the world of Candyland and naivete? You have every right to say "I don't want to have sex with an HIV poz man". However, consider this: any gay man is only as good as his last test, and that may have been months (or years) ago. So is that the game? We all just say we are negative and you believe us? Well, that's easy enough. That's what you seem to be encouraging with your rejection and fake sense of superiority. Of course, gay men know nothing about stigmatization, yet will easily participate in it when it comes to this issue. Remember this: a man who is honest with you about being HIV positive is a man worth loving. Honesty is a sign of strenth. Don't inadvertently encourage dishonesty; it doesn't take a genius mentaliity to have safe sex with an HIV positive person. To reject them is only to surrender to a fear you already overcame by being an honest gay men in the first place.

Now, being in a relationship with someone who is positive and the other is not is something of a true virtue! It shows that love exists primarily because it has went beyond the physicalities or sexual attraction. However, when you have those who are single and looking for hook ups; that is on them. It's their duty to inform those they are about to copulate with the truth. Unfortunately, you have those who don't inform people of their status and I think that is wrong! You know, Karma does come back in one form or another!!!