June 5, 2021 marked the 40 year anniversary of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) describing the first cases of a rare pneumonia among five men in Los Angeles, marking the first official reporting of what would later become known as HIV/AIDS. Since then, we have lost 32 million to the virus and 38 million are currently living with HIV globally.
Since 1981, we’ve witnessed many advancements in medicine and technology and today, the end of this pandemic is in sight. However, we’ve recently had to put our creativity and innovation to the test— while we are in the midst of ending HIV we were caught off guard with COVID-19. As a result, many health departments, community based organizations and health centers had to identify new ways to provide HIV prevention services, care and treatment. We will not give up on the fight. We now KNOW how effective HIV testing, PrEP/PEP and ART can be in eliminating new HIV infections, but we must continue digging away at stigma and the social and structural barriers that keep people from engaging in care. We must recommit ourselves to eliminating racism, homophobia, and transphobia in health care, and move towards health equity for all.