Four Decades of Resilience
December 1st is World AIDS Day—our annual commemoration of the HIV pandemic, the deadliest public health crisis of the past 40 years. More than 75 million people have contracted HIV, and the more than 36 million deaths from it have shattered the lives of individuals, families, and communities across the globe.
The lessons of four decades of resilience in the fight against AIDS are vital to deploy amidst the devastating Covid pandemic and the unforeseen public health threats of the future. Nowhere has this resilience been more evident than in the action and activism of the LGBTQIA, African American, and Latinx communities and their allies.
Reflecting on Important Lessons on World AIDS Day
Facing the threat of AIDS has laid bare the inequalities faced by many people within our communities. On this World AIDS Day, we pause to recognize the lessons we’ve learned, as well as the many lessons we have yet to encounter on our journey. Many of the lessons are now applicable to the current health crisis of COVID-19.
- In our response to HIV, we learned that there are universal, effective public health and health care strategies that save lives.
- We learned there is no silver bullet when it comes to treatment—we need a combination of strategies to prevail.
- Barriers, be they either face coverings or condoms, stop infectious diseases.
- Cleanliness, helped by sanitizers or soaps, or syringes, assures protection from viruses and bacteria.
Most importantly, we learned that behavior changes take time. Time in which resilience trumps fatigue. Time during which care for oneself and one another is paramount. These and other tried and true strategies have peeled us away from the horrific heights of the HIV pandemic. Collectively embracing them can also curtail Covid.
Relentless resilience in advocacy during the HIV epidemic brought forward critical changes to health care delivery. The nationally renowned patient-centered HIV Medical Home we have developed at Vivent Health is the template for responding to the pandemic and caring for people with chronic or life-threatening diseases. Our HIV Medical Home provides care for everyone in need, achieves some of the finest clinical quality outcomes in the world, and saves the health care system tens of millions of dollars a year in unnecessary costs. At its core, our HIV Medical Home seeks to treat disease and confront the social determinants driving the HIV epidemic today.