Greater NW Pride: World AIDS Day, December 1, 2020


World AIDS Day, December 1, 2020


In the rush of good news of three possible COVID 19 vaccines in the last week, the impact of such news is not lost among those who are alive and HIV positive (HIV poz). Indeed, many lessons about how to deal with this pandemic have come from dealing with the epidemic of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s. Testing, contact tracing, and other preventative measures that have been executed during the COVID 19 pandemic’s early days are straight out of the book(s), articles, and practices that came out of the plague of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. 
The HIV/AIDS epidemic started in the 1980 and rose rapidly to 150,000 infections every year in the mid-1980s, declining to 40,000 per year since 1992 with the introduction of antiretroviral drugs that kept those who are HIV poz alive, able to live relatively healthy lives. The use of PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis), like Truvada, taken daily, is medicine for people at risk for HIV taken to prevent getting HIV from sex or injection drug use.This medicine has also helped lower the number of people who are HIV poz.

To date, 75.7 million people have become infected of HIV/AIDS since the start of the infection, and 32.7 million people have died of HIV/AIDS related illnesses (as of 2019; UNAIDS, 2020). 
And like HIV/AIDS, COVID 19 has exposed the inequality in our healthcare system in the States. In the article, “Alarm at the Gate: Health and Social Inequalities are Comorbid Conditions of HIV and COVID 19”, Ivy Burruto reports that: “Black and African American people experience higher rates of HIV infection, despite no elevated engagement in “risky” sexual or drug using behavior than other racial groups. They are also less likely to receive HIV care, including antiretroviral treatment. Similarly national COVID-19 data reports that communities of color, specifically Black, African Americans and First Nation people, have increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and are more likely to die of the virus than their white counterparts. In New York City, Black, African American, and Latinx populations died at twice the rate of the white population.”
On December 1, 2020, The United Methodist Global AIDS Committee has announced plans for a special service to commemorate World AIDS Day at 1 p.m. CT Tuesday, Dec. 1. The worship service – held virtually – will be free and available to all online at www.Facebook.com/UMCglobalaidsfund and https://www.umc.org/en/content/world-aids-day-2020-worship.
The theme of the service will revolve around the theme of this year’s World AIDS Day will be “Global Solidarity, Shared Responsibility.”
Join others tomorrow, December 1, 2020, in The United Methodist Church, in commemorating World AIDS Day as we continue to struggle with the COVID 19 pandemic, which is but the latest world-wide epidemic/pandemic phenomenon. 
And let us pray and support work in which both HIV/AIDS and COVID 19 will find vaccines that will prevent these illnesses from infecting and killing people in our lifetime.

"God, in your mercy, hear our prayers."


Brett Webb-Mitchell
Rev. Dr. Brett Webb-Mitchell is an openly gay Presbyterian pastor in the Portland area serving as the part-time LGBTQ+ advocacy coordinator for The Oregon-Idaho Conference of the UMC. He can be reached at brett@umoi.org. Become a subscriber to the Greater NW Pride blog to get Greater NW Pride in your email box!