I’ve lived through so many World AIDS Days that they can become a bit uninspiring.
There was the first year I really took notice of the date, living in South Africa, working with children who had lost parents to the disease, making friends with a lot of the locals and the statistic of 33% infection rate for that area suddenly becoming awfully real to me.
There were my uni years, campaigning with the One World Student Society, collecting signatures to push for free treatment, organising a fundraising ball in the town aquarium.
As I get further from my experiences in South Africa it becomes harder to recall why I was so passionate for this cause. It feels so very far away. Even the experience of getting tested myself (as a precaution when I came home – I was very sure I wasn’t infected but the incredible fear of what could be was still overpowering) seems a distant memory.
But it’s still very real and very painful for so many families across the world, particularly in Africa.
I spend a lot of my work days researching EU policy on HIV&AIDS, pushing for new programs, reminding about forgotten people groups.
But today I am thinking only of one woman. Whose photo I have only seen, I have never met or spoken with her aside from a few short texts. She lives in Togo and is the wife of a good friend. And she is HIV positive. And I’ve seen the pain in his eyes when he speaks of it, and I’ve read the struggles between the lines of her text messages.
And that reminds me that this is still real. And we must not let our hearts be hardened by repetition. We must keep remembering, keep pushing for change and keep loving and supporting.