40 years on, where we have been and where we are going

June 5 marks 40 years since an illness that would later be known as HIV would be reported in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

It has been 40 years of fighting to end the HIV epidemic. We’re still here.

We have overcome so much in our work to end the HIV epidemic. We have been ignored by presidents and administrations. We have had to fight for every inch of funding, research and support for our communities. Many of us lost loved ones who passed on before treatment became available.

At the same time, we have surpassed our wildest expectations. We have persisted and insisted on the treatment and care we deserved. We won when we worked together as a community to fund our needs. We won when we successfully secured Ryan White funding as a source of financial support to ensure we had access to care. We won when we successfully pushed for research into shorter testing times, better treatment and better preventative measures. We won with the advent of  PrEP and PEP, and we cheered when our community found the power in U=U.

And yet, we still have so far to go.

We have yet to have an HIV-free generation. Black and Brown people still carry a disproportionate burden of the HIV epidemic. Our laws still stigmatize and criminalize those living with HIV. There are still corners of our health care system that still do not see people who use drugs as humans and criminalize their addiction.

We have the tools to end the HIV epidemic. Let’s work together to find the support and will to get it done.