One of the most important issues revolving around the HIV/AIDS crisis I have discovered while working with Until There’s A is the education of the virus itself. This paired with diminished public consciousness has raised great concerns within the AIDS community regarding the awareness of the disease and, with the economy compromised, it has forced many organizations to switch their focus from fundraising to awareness raising. This ability to adapt to economic, political, and social undulations is extremely important to the success of a particular organization’s mission. While, from its inception, UTAC has primarily focused on granting funds they must now turn their efforts to educating the public, which will hopefully, stimulate a dialogue about the disease in order to work towards the goal of eradicating the virus. By reminding the public of the harsh realities of HIV/AIDS, that it still exists, there is still no cure and that every individual is still at risk there is a hope that people will place more efforts into understanding the seriousness of the disease and begin to work again to help complete the fight against AIDS.
Despite various non-profit and government driven efforts to encourage testing and the practice of safe sex and/or drug injection statistics will show that HIV infections continue to rise meaning humans continue to spread the disease. Whether this is due to lack of education or the human tendency to neglect proper health practices is hard to judge. Regardless, I am disappointed every time I hear of someone (especially when I know they have some kind of education regarding sexually transmitted diseases) having a “pregnancy scare” because they didn’t use protection, as though a baby would be the worst outcome. As humans we make mistakes and some of us are fortunate to learn from them while surviving somewhat unscathed; however, that shouldn’t relinquish our responsibility to our fellow human beings or ourselves. Nonetheless, the question rises of how do we better educate the people of our nation? One of the largest demographics at risk for contracting HIV is adolescents and due to the stigmas surrounding the virus and its transmission there are difficulties presented regarding how to approach proper education. How does an organization teach youth about safe sex and drug use without promoting either? How does an organization use our nation’s children to help spread that education? Especially when one takes into consideration the influence and power of religious and conservative thought. These are only some of the challenges organizations face just to equip people with the proper knowledge of caring for themselves and others and, ultimately, putting a stop to the spread of one of human history’s most deadly viruses. If people can abandon the negative associations that have become synonymous with HIV/AIDS we can begin talk a little more freely about stopping the spread of it. A vaccine might be years or decades away but if we can approach the virus intelligently and courageously, without fear and hesitation maybe we can suppress its force. Until There’s A Cure has established this from the beginning with the bracelet and although the focus of their undertaking has had to shift slightly they can still use this piece of jewelry as a tool to prompt conversation, a reminder of the overwhelming spread of HIV and hopefully a means to end AIDS.