Today is World AIDS day, a day when individuals and organizations across the globe draw attention to the HIV epidemic, to increase HIV awareness and information, and certainly to speak against HIV stigmas that still exist worldwide.
It is an important day. For me, it is also a day where I pay tribute and remembrance to friends I have lost to this disease, and to the friends and families who are left behind.
I have been thinking a lot about HIV and AIDS this year, and I wonder if this has been the case for any of you. We are living under a global pandemic, and while it is totally different, there are little similarities that poke at my sides and certainly stir memories.
The other day, a friend said to me that they tested positive. Even to this day, my first reaction for a millisecond is to think that they are telling me they tested positive for HIV. I then realized of course that they were speaking about testing positive for the coronavirus, But still, it reminds me of the many times friends have come out to me with their HIV positive status over the years. There was a time when I heard “I tested positive” about once a month. I am starting to hear that sentence in the same frequency, but now it is Corona, and it isn’t as dire.
Even though in the early days people referred to it as a gay disease, HIV does not discriminate, much like the coronavirus. It affects the young and the old, the rich and the poor, and every ethnicity in every country. In an odd way, it is something that breaks socioeconomic and racial barriers to connect us in a common struggle.
Years ago, my business partner, Bryan, lost one of his best friends, Philip, to the disease, and the Zoom Vacations family has also sadly lost several travelers to complications from HIV/AIDS.
So, while in 2020 the World has focused on the coronavirus pandemic, on this day, December 1st, we at Zoom Vacations light a candle and take a moment of silence to express our solidarity with those around the world still living with the disease, to those the world has lost, and to survivors and friends and family.
We will never forget. We stand with you.