The holiday season means a lot of travel. For me, airports and airplanes go hand in hand with magazines full of “holiday gift guides” and “2010 wrap ups”. As I flipped through the health page of the December 24th-Jan 7th edition of The Week, reading about how naps and dreams make us smarter, laughing makes us hungrier, and growing old makes us happier, my eyes focused at the bottom of the page—“New hope for blocking HIV.”
In a two year clinical trial in South Africa, women who used a fairly inexpensive vaginal gel containing medicine used to treat the AIDS virus, decreased their chances of infection by half. In another trial, a drug commonly used to treat people infected with AIDS, was completely preventative of infection among sexually active gay men if taken daily. After the first year, ¾ of the participants who continued to take the drug regularly remained healthy and uninfected.
Whenever I see a headline with the words HIV in the news, let alone in print, I can’t help but feel a little like I’ve just stumbled upon hidden treasure. While HIV/AIDS doesn’t make the front page very often, it should. When women around the world, no longer totally reliant on male condom use, are becoming empowered, and one of the largest at risk groups moves a step closer towards an answer, public attention is not only warranted, but deserved.
When HIV/AIDS doesn’t make major news, we cannot forget all those, infected and affected, living away from the headlines. This is my favorite time of year—especially because I have an excuse to tell those I love how thankful I am for them. The holidays are a time to appreciate all that we have now, all that we’ve had in the past, and all that is to come. They are a time to be around family and friends, and of course, a time to give.
The fact of the matter is we need more money for HIV/AIDS research, resources for those affected, and awareness for all. Whether it means buying a few bracelets to show the ones we love how much we care about them, or asking for a donation instead of a Christmas gift, we can all make a difference this holiday to “increase compassion, understanding and responsibility…Until There’s A Cure.”