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Enlist In the End of AIDS

Recent scientific advances have proved that the end of AIDS is possible, perhaps even in our lifetimes if we do enough of the right stuff, at the right levels, right now. 

But to secure the political and financial capital necessary to make the possibility of the end of AIDS a reality, there must be a massive, visible, loud, strategic and unified response to the pandemic.

It's high time for a surge of new troops, a revised battle plan and a fresh era of fighting in the global war on AIDS. And it's a perfect time for you to engage today, as people are packing bags all over the world, about to join a throng of 25,000 people convening in Washington, DC at the XIX International AIDS Conference where the discussion will focus on--as the theme of the conference suggests--how we "turn the tide" on AIDS together.

Many of you were there in the beginning of the pandemic. Many of you are too young to have been there. When AIDS first started ravaging bodies--wasting pounds of flesh off frames in weeks, covering people with huge cancerous purple spots known as Kaposi's sarcoma, blinding people, leaving them deaf in a cave of silence, wracking their lungs with pneumonia and wrenching young, healthy people from the prime of their lives--people were understandably terrified, and very, very, angry. 

Because of misperception, fear and stigma, people living with the virus were barred from receiving health care in some hospitals. If they were admitted, their food was often left outside their rooms and got cold. Their doors were covered with biohazard symbols. People wore masks to visit them. When they died their bodies were wrapped in black garbage bags and many morgues refused to take them. Some of those who were still alive, and their friends, lovers, partners, neighbors and families, refused to accept the state of affairs and started activist groups to agitate for change. 

The famous ACT UP (it stands for AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) was founded in New York City in the 1980s and it became the platinum example for how a small group of ordinary people from a diverse set of backgrounds with a wide array of ideologies and very different skills could coalesce organically to channel fear into anger, anger into action and action into change that has saved the lives of millions. 

All of us alive today with HIV have those early activists to thank for our survival. They ensured improved health care and greater human rights for people with HIV/AIDS. They helped lobby for legislation that protected people living with HIV/AIDS from discrimination. They pressured state and federal governments to talk openly about the topic of HIV/AIDS. They persuaded Congress to allocate more money to the care of people with HIV and to the research needed to help develop treatments for HIV/AIDS. They helped fast-track the development of certain drugs, they altered the way the Federal Drug Administration approved medicines (enabling them to do so faster so more people could get life saving drugs quicker). They influenced the way the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other organizations conduct AIDS research. And they ensured that people living with HIV were sitting in the room and at the decision making tables when decisions affecting our lives were being made. In short, they made sure the collective needs of a growing and increasingly diverse community were heard--and answered. 

The early AIDS activists were effective for three main reasons: They were fueled by fury, they supported their arguments with irrefutable scientific evidence and they showed up--in the offices of pharmaceutical executives, at presidential election rallies, on Capitol Hill in the offices of Congress, in houses of state legislations--and sometimes, as they did when they covered Senator Jess Helms' house in an enormous condom to protest his reluctance to help people with HIV, in political leaders' personal domains. 

The early activists were experts in AIDS policy, law, science and research. They knew as much as the people they asked for change and their arguments were hard to dismiss or refute because they were based on facts, because they presented logical and viable solutions (many of which saved healthcare dollars) and because they presented those arguments and requests with profound emotion, in person, in unison and en masse. They were a group of people who would not--and therefore could not--be ignored. 

When ACT UP first released their collective power, there were about 2,000 people living with HIV hurtling toward disease and death. We've come a long way in some ways since then. As a result of early AIDS activism there are now 30 medications that help people with HIV stay healthy and that help slow the spread of the virus. But the war on AIDS is far from over. Though 6 million people with the virus are accessing life-sustaining care and treatment, tragically, for the other 28 million people living with HIV worldwide (750,000 of whom are in the United States), HIV remains a death sentence. 

This is where you come in. All of us whose lives were spared by the bravery, unrelenting efforts and heroism of those who came before us must help finish what they started. And we need many new friends and supporters to join our ranks.

The end game of today's war on AIDS is ensuring that we help all who are living with HIV know their status, that we connect as many people as we can to life-sustaining treatment to keep them alive and to prevent future cases of HIV while we hunt aggressively and quickly for a cure and/or preventive and therapeutic vaccines. 

This is why POZ has launched the POZ Army, a global, grassroots collective of people fighting for the cure/vaccine for AIDS--and prevention, treatment and human rights for all people at risk for or living with HIV/AIDS until a cure is found. Many of you are already recruits. We hope many more of you will join us today. We have revised and re-launched the POZ Army and it now directs you to many specific, critical actions that need the power of your voice and your promotion via social media.

It seems absurd, almost criminal, that we have the medical solutions to a disease like HIV/AIDS and are not administering them better, to more people in need. But the tide is turning. There is new leadership, attention and commitment to the issue on Capitol Hill. There are brand new bills to help people with HIV/AIDS making the rounds of Congress as I write and petitions and declarations all focused on ending AIDS are flying around cyberspace. And the world is listening. You can see all the action on base camp of sorts for a new era of AIDS activism.

By joining the POZ Army, you will be personally engaged in the action and have a direct impact on decisions that impact the lives of tens of millions of people living with the virus. 

President FDR is famous for responding to a group of activists asking for his support thus: "I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it." It is again time to make our global political leaders do what we know can be done: herald in the end of AIDS. By joining the POZ Army, you will help our generation be the one that finishes what the brave souls who came before us started. Enlist today at And lace up your boots. We're going back to the front lines.


Show Comment(s)

Comments on Regan Hofmann's blog entry "Enlist In the End of AIDS"

Wow, the green glowing fisting hand is not just unnerving but cliched.

Enough already. END AIDS

A compelling article. Thanks, Regan.

The problems people with HIV/AIDS seem to face are criminal, and immoral. Paradoxically, the obstacles put in the way of finding a cure and ending stigma come from the same people who preach love and peace. It's the, "love the sinner, hate the sin" kind of doublespeak. Their disconnect is willfull and can only be fought by persistence.

You noted, "The early activists were experts in AIDS policy, law, science and research." We are all "experts" in our own way, and our personal stories can be compelling, but (I'll speak for myself when I say that) I need to be better informed about policy... about what's happening in the REAL LIVES of people with HIV/AIDS TODAY.

Since coming to, I am stunned to learn that the fight I thought had basically been won still RAGES. Not only in terms of medical breakthroughs in treatment and the HOPE for an eventual CURE, but in terms of the stigma, brutality and outright criminalization of persons with HIV/AIDS. It is an OUTRAGE.

This is to say THANKS for all you do. Now, I'll go enlist.

I want to thank everyone for doing their part in the war against HIV/AIDS...I tested positive for the HIV virus in 1989 and in 1991 I saw my husband die from OI's due to AIDS.I am still alive and healthy thanks to the many people who fought for us!!I was around when the fear ,stigma,and discrimination was there...I am so proud of all who fought for myself and others for the quality of life I have today...some of y'all haven't experienced it and I am glad y'all don't have to...whatever I can do I am ready!!!

I an here ready Ti fight for the cure

i have been hiv/aids since 1992 to present and i lived the caos of mnay friens i lost since i lived in unites states for 35 yrs. .... still people out there with monkey brains and dont realized is not as bad as way back ..when nobody knew much about it ....but discrimination should be punish severely to those ignorants today a days that have non sence that we all humans and live and share the same world and instead of complained about it try to help to end this syndrome for good .. they dont realized they not better than anybody else and are humans subject to get any other illness worse that hiv today a days ... i think should be more education to those many ignorant out there .....thnaks

We ALL must wage an unrelenting war against this ever evolving virus to defeat and completely eradicate it forever. It will take a monumental effort, much as it did with Polio and Smallpox, but it can, and IT WILL be done. We ALL must not stop with a cure, but continue on with biotechnological innovations to prevent future viral infections and debilitating diseases of all types, for all living things. Remember, it can be done, and IT WILL be done!

I sould liketo be part of the on line POZ ARMY.
Let me know what you want me to do!

I would So Love to Join. Living with Hiv/Aids since 2006.

Our friends and family first!!

Everybody tested now!! Know your status!

Ms. Hofman I would like to thank you for this article. I was honored that OutFest paired Being Alive with another fantastic Feature Film Documentary this year. It is called "How to Survive A Plague" directed by David France. It is all about what you described in the early years of AIDS and the founders of ACT UP. I highly recommend that every person that wants to do something see when it is released in NY, LA and San Francisco on September 21st, 2012. It is so important for all activists to see this film...especially those who are too young to have seen the beginning of the pandemic.

Thank you so much for In my work as a Treatment Educator and Peer Counselor I find your articles to be extremely helpful and invaluable.

Daniel Robison
Being Alive L.A.

I have been positive for 26 years now and been through a lot but doing great again. A CURE sounds really good, but it is not in the interest of the Pharmaceutical companies. There has not been any cures since Polio, that's when they got together and decided it was not in their interest to cure people but much more lucrative to treat them with pills(medications). Usually not only one pill but a second one that treats the side effects of the first one.
They are in it for the money.

Regarding joining a POZ army, it sounds as if I would be joining the military.
I would much rather join a POZ movement for a CURE.

BTW: There is a cure, The Berlin Patient is cured. The treatment is just extremely expensive.
I still hope a cure will happen eventually.

I should know, I was there. Now I'm old and broke. I am also sick.

The following is an opinion, and I, (25 yrs positive)a political wonk, am sounding the sirens of the possibility of a Ryan Budget..via a Romney Presidency. (Dear Lord, protect us-Please do not be too quick to judge from my title, as it is currently figurative, but all too possibly literal, in the near future. I call this quiet desperation... "Capitalism Cleansing - The Final Solution... by Proxy" I realize the gravity of what I've just typed, but the conservatives voted in 2010 with blind fear and anger for transparency, and now 'we' are getting a refractile vision of it! (As any magician will admit that a successful illusion is contingent upon a plausible diversion.) The 'dictator' style Governors, the President dealing with 'birther' and 'Muslim' debacles, along with so many other disgraces are setting the stage for a 'Haves Vs. Have Nots' class war. They (the Extreme Right) will be resourced to ride it out, with impunity, and plausible deniability. In the wake and aftermath, the survivors (of the fight for whatever remains) will need them as protectorate, thus 'owe my soul to the company store'. I should tell you that I am hovering in the system, (unemployable) but have always been a 'Non-Entitlement mentality'. If interested in my background, I will be happy to talk about that, as I am cursed with the truth, good or bad.s!)

52 & aids free. Smart sex & unwilling to give in to desire instead of rational thinking. Testing is not romantic; but should be required to move forward with romantic relationship in today's free sex society.
Not blaming but the way we think and move from relationship to relationship really needs to done not only with heart but also with smarts.

Not only has the Berlin patient been cred, but two others had bone marrow transplants FOUR YEARS ago and have no signs of HIV. It has only been announced this week!
And now they are planning to test for remnants of HIV in tissue samples.
Well that must take another decade, not about, say a day's lab time.
It is quite clear that discoveries appear, then disappear and are discovered all over again....Read back copies of Science Daily.
We can purge HIV from cells, We can do bone marrow transplants.
This will only be cured by a government team or an international prize.

I've been positive for well over 20 yrs. Through they years I've never seen HIV+ Heterosexual representation at any event. Ya got Women, Latinos, Blacks, gays, IV, Sex workers, etc. No wonder women's HIV cases are on the rise. HIV+ Heterosexual males have been ostracised from the HIV Community

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This page contains a single entry by Regan Hofmann published on July 18, 2012 5:42 PM.

Let's Kick Some Viral Ass! was the previous entry in this blog.

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