Last night, after the excitement of ONE and (RED)’s World AIDS Day event, I had the chance to join with ONE members and others at the Whitman-Walker Health Annual World AIDS Day Vigil in Washington, DC.
This event brought together community members and those who benefit from Whitman-Walker Health’s services to step back and reflect on 30 years of the HIV/AIDS virus and increase public awareness of the epidemic. As we gathered around Dupont circle with candles in hand, we heard inspirational words from Whitman-Walker’s Executive Director Dan Blanchon, an HIV+ community member, Mayor Vincent C. Gray, and a local pastor, who all stressed the importance of a comprehensive approach that includes involvement from the entire global community to continue the progress made in the fight against HIV over the last decade.
Their words echoed those of President Barack Obama during his announcements at the AIDS panel earlier in the day. In order to produce an AIDS free generation by 2015, we need government, nonprofits, faith communities, and individuals to work together to achieve the goals we have put in place. From high-level events to a community standing together in memory of those who have been claimed by HIV/AIDS, I think each event is important in spreading the message of awareness and action. At the vigil, I appreciated the opportunity to gather with others in contemplative silence to realize the impact HIV/AIDS has had on the global community and honor those who have been instrumental in the success we have achieved up to this point. As Blanchon was quick to point out though, there is still much to be done, and it’s time to continue the fight and strengthen our commitments to making the end of AIDS a reality.