Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Refocusing the Home Field

This morning I handed a card to a fellow cyclist describing the AIDS ride I’m doing this year. Her response, “You don’t hear much about AIDS anymore”. The glass half full side of me thinks that’s progress. Two years ago the response was more likely to be “AIDS? Isn’t that cured?”

Last Saturday I rode my bike for the first time in 4 months. Despite thousands of odometer miles, it took about 5 more to remember how to shift my gears. Shifting comes as natural as breathing so long as I’m riding week after week, but a few months out of mind had put it out of focus. Keep HIV/AIDS out of mind long enough and the message can get so out of focus it’s no longer believed to be a problem.

In the last decade, I’ve witnessed a growing American awareness for AIDS orphans in sub-Saharan Africa, education campaigns across India, increased funding for the Global AIDS Fund; we buy, carry and wear (RED) but what does it mean in our own neighborhoods? In our own families and social circles? Last month’s news out of DC is the most startling evidence that the HIV prevention message must be loud, must remain effective and must, above all, be persistent.

Yesterday, the Obama administration announced their plan to “attack complacency" and “put HIV/AIDS back on the nation’s radar screen”. The planned spend of $45 million over five years is the ounce of prevention needed to refocus this nation on protecting itself from the still fatal and costly ravages of AIDS.

You signed on for a National AIDS Strategy call to action. You made this difference. Thank you!

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