Some Keith Haring-inspired HIV awareness nail art. Tomorrow is World AIDS Day, and I’ve been thinking a lot about the activists who, in the dark early days of the epidemic, fought against injustice and ignorance with such passion, strength, and style.  So many people risked so much– safety, livelihood, friends and family.  And they did it while surrounded by almost unimaginable loss.  I work as a nurse at a clinic for people with HIV/AIDS, and have both coworkers and patients who lived through those early years.  It’s a daily privilege and inspiration to work with them.

I feel like we need some of their strength right now.  It’s easy to become complacent in an era where HIV treatment has become so remarkably effective.  But HIV meds are crazy expensive, and many many people in the US rely on federal funds through the Ryan White CARE Act, Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act to access HIV care.  And there are serious reasons to be worried about whether these programs will continue to be funded or even exist in our current political climate.  HIV continues to affect many of our society’s most discriminated against and vulnerable groups disproportionally– gay people, POCs, trans people, people living with mental illness and addiction, poor people, sex workers.  Do you realize that the lifetime risk of an HIV diagnosis for black men who have sex with men is 1 in 2?  And for Latino men who have sex with men it’s 1 in 4 and rising.  I’m not making this shit up.  It’s straight from the CDC.  And it matters.  

We have to keep working.  Silence = Death.