National HIV Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day
The first-ever National HIV/AIDS Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day (NHALTSAD) will be held on June 5, 2014. This day commemorates the profound experiences and unique issues of long-term survivors, both HIV-positive and negative, who are still alive despite the devastating toll from surviving the most significant epidemic of our time. Let’s Kick ASS—AIDS Survivor Syndrome is the lead sponsor and organizer for this AIDS observance day. This year’s theme, “We’re Still Here,” reflects the strength and resilience of the generation of survivors who lived through the darkest decades of the AIDS epidemic—the 1980s and 1990s. The We’re Still Here Campaign continues the work of Let’s Kick ASS by focusing on the lives of long- tem survivors. By optimizing self-empowerment, increasing visibility, and ending stigma, NHALTSAD puts long-term survivors on the AIDS agenda. Our goal is to empower survivors to find meaning and purpose amidst the rubble of lives so terribly impacted by AIDS.
Let’s Kick ASS PSA featuring National HIV/AIDS Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day June 5 from Let’s Kick (ASS) on Vimeo. We find ourselves in uncharted waters. NHALTSAD is especially urgent now as the CDC reports that there are an estimated 60,000 Americans who have been living with HIV for more than 25 years. AIDS Survivor Syndrome (ASS) and post-traumatic stress (PTS) among survivors is very real. Long-term survivors feel forgotten and increasingly hopeless. Some are ending their lives rather than live on with survivor’s guilt, depression and anxiety associated with post-traumatic stress.
This observance day occurs on the anniversary of the first published report of what came to be known as AIDS. On June 5, 1981 the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) published a brief account of five young gay men that had been diagnosed with Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), indicating signs of severely compromised immune systems. That report sent huge shockwaves throughout the LGBT community and eventually, around the world. The time has come to talk about what it means to be a long-term survivor. We are asking the media, community groups and AIDS service organizations to find ways to highlight individual stories of survival.
On NHALTSD, in San Francisco, Let’s Kick ASS is holding the first AIDS Survivor Summit, a health fair with workshops, presentations and materials tailored to long-term survivors. It will be an event created by, for and about long-term survivors.
Other jurisdictions are encouraged to acknowledge this day in ways that feel significant to them. It could be as simple as hosting a potluck in one’s home or as large as putting together a town hall meeting where numbers of survivors can come together. The important thing is to honor the experience and losses of long-term survivors and work towards a productive future. For more information and a calendar of events coast-to-coast please visit www.NHALTSAD.org
To have your event listed, please send an email to AwarenessDay@LetsKickASS.org and we’ll add you to our national list.