December 1st is World AIDS day marking the 40th year since the AIDS/HIV pandemic started in the 1980’s.
Appropriately, the City Club of Cleveland conducted a virtual forum in which Ms. Marlene Harris-Taylor, Reporter/Producer for Ideastream Public Media, interviewed Dr. Celeste Watkins-Hayes, author of “Remaking a Life: How Women Living with HIV/AIDS Confront Inequality.”
Drawing from her studies regarding the HIV/AIDS pandemic, Dr. Watkins-Hayes delved into how different sectors of the public, many of them marginalized, came together to build a movement that eventually became a political/social juggernaut resulting in the necessary resources being invested to convert the acquisition of HIV/AIDS from a certain fatality to what is now a “manageable chronic Illness” with a positive life expectancy.
As the discussion progressed, eerie but pertinent parallels emerged about how the HIV/AIDS pandemic resembles what we are facing now regarding COVID-19 although the latter is certainly more universal and its social stigma comparatively non-existent.
But comparisons can be made about how low-income people of color, especially women, are disproportionately affected and the need to create support networks/safety nets to address societal inequities that have placed them at a disadvantage.
This particularly holds true for those who have immigrated to the United States and face language, economic, and legal barriers that often prohibit them from obtaining vital information and necessary resources.
For sure, Dr. Watkins-Hayes advocated a bottom-to-top approach that calls for all parties involved, particularly those afflicted, to have a say regarding a constructive course of action.
What’s more, according to Dr. Watkins-Hayes, there must be an outreach to those who resent seeing their tax dollars being spent to assist others.
After all, as she reasoned, people rarely achieve success on their own; if we are honest with ourselves, we all received backing, often from our families, that enabled us to get where we are today.
During the forum, we learned that another thing that HIV/AIDS and Covid-19 have in common is that Dr. Anthony Fauci has been a prominent combatant of both and thus earns the honor, in our opinion, of being a continual warrior on behalf of us all.