As such, it is - obviously - a day to consider how HIV and AIDS have changed the face of the world as we know it over the past few decades. To think of the lives lost or forever altered by a disease which knows no boundaries, no prejudices, no borders. A disease which simply needs blood to survive - blood which we all share no matter our colors, our sexual orientations, our heritages, or our religious or political leanings.
World AIDS Day is also a day to think about what we do in the world on a daily basis. To consider how important each and every action we take can be - in our own lives and the lives of those around us. To reflect on how important honest and open communication - between partners, between doctors and patients, between governments and people - can be. To remind ourselves that what we do with our lives is up to each and every single one of us.
It is also a day to think about how we can change the life of another person in an instant - knowingly or unknowingly. Whether we reach out to someone in need, speak up against a bully, talk about the possible consequences of unprotected sex, or make a donation of time or money to an outreach charity, we all make choices on a daily basis which impact those around us. Inaction is also a choice we all have to live with.
A few choices I would suggest for commemorating World AIDS Day 2010:
- If you aren't sure if you have HIV or AIDS (or if you're simply "pretty much certain" that you don't), please take the time to get tested. Your life - and the lives of those around you - depends on it.
- Help to educate others in your life about HIV and AIDS. Help them to understand that this is a non-discriminating disease which added another 100,000 people - both men and women, of all ages, races, and religions - to its roster in North America and Western Europe alone in 2009. If they think they don't know someone affected with this, you can bet they're wrong.
- Consider making a donation to one of the organizations fighting against HIV/AIDS, or working to make the lives of those living with AIDS more liveable. (There are a LOT of organizations out there. For instance, without even thinking about it, I can name: Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, The Minnesota AIDS Project, Baltimore's Moveable Feast, or any number of other organizations.
- Take a moment or two or ten to really look at the people you have chosen to have in your life and enjoy them for who they are, realizing that they may not always be there.
- For one day. Just one single day out of 365. Truly try to pay attention to every choice you make in your life.