Recommitment for a New Year

By Jamie Gentille | December 13, 2012

Jamie and her husband, Paul.

EGPAF

When I was a kid living with HIV, my status was a secret.  We couldn't talk about it, for fear of discrimination or being shunned.  We kept it within the four walls of our home or my clinic. We dealt with it discreetly.

Today, our community has reached a critical point are at a critical point -- we can't afford NOT to talk about it.  We have made tremendous progress in reducing the number of new HIV infections and eliminating pediatric HIV.  We are on the brink!  But in order to achieve our goal, we have to keep talking and taking action.

Last month, I was privileged to be a part of a meeting hosted by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation that brought together advocates and influential individuals committed to the fight against pediatric AIDS. It was an amazing combination of perspectives and areas of expertise and an opportunity to really come together and discuss what continue to be the greatest challenges and obstacles for those of us who have grown up HIV positive, and for all those affected by pediatric AIDS. Through our hours of discussions on the multitude of issues that we still face as a community, we all were reminded that in spite of the incredible momentum and change we have witnessed and been a part of, we still have a lot of work to do.

The progress that we have made over the last 30 years is astounding, and I’m living proof of that.  When I was eight years old, the doctor told my parents that I had two years to live.  Now, at age 33, I can look forward to a full, healthy, happy life with my husband.

And while this incredible progress has given me, and so many others like me, our lives back, it has also slowed us in our action to make pediatric AIDS history.  The issue still exists.  Countless children are still being born with HIV and they will have to experience many of the challenges that those of us who are now adults painfully remember.

Let’s continue to celebrate our achievements in efforts to end pediatric AIDS. But let’s also continue to challenge ourselves – look forward and take action on what needs to be done.  As we approach a new year with new goals and resolutions, let’s commit to building our momentum and keeping our promise for an HIV-free generation.

The fight that Elizabeth Glaser started to save her children is still ours to fight.  And if there is one thing that Elizabeth taught us, it’s that we have to power to move mountains.  It’s up to us.  And we can do it.