World AIDS Day: A Time of Hope & Remembrance

Tyler TerMeer
Executive Director

World AIDS Day is upon us again.  For me, World AIDS Day has always been a time of reflection and remembrance. A time for me to remember those individuals lost along this journey and to reflect on the ways in which HIV has changed the course of my life.

However, this World AIDS Day feels different. This year has felt a bit like we have been under siege.  We have been bombarded with efforts to deprive people of healthcare and attacks on programs that people living with HIV have come to depend. We have felt the tide of racism, xenophobia and misogyny rising. And it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the negativity and fear.

That’s why on this World AIDS Day I am focusing on the ways in which my own life has been enriched. For nearly 14 years I have been living with HIV. As a 34-year-old, gay, HIV positive man of color, I have faced my share of stigma and fear. But I’ve also come to understand the tremendous courage, strength, and compassion that many people have shown in the face of this disease. Personally, becoming positive was a transformation for which I will always be profoundly grateful as it gave me a perspective that was bigger than myself. It catapulted me from a career in the arts to working in HIV policy and activism and it gave me the opportunity to work with and for people most impacted by the epidemic. 

So, this morning, I am thinking of how we can build on our progress and reimagine a new path forward to end the epidemic. We have traveled a long way from the dark beginnings of this disease and have come so far in the fight. The rate of new infections is decreasing and we are diagnosing people earlier. We have a pill, commonly known as PrEP, that when taken consistently can help prevent HIV infection.  Once diagnosed and connected to care, people living with HIV can lead long and vibrant lives. And science now confirms that individuals living with HIV who have an undetectable viral load are no longer able to transmit the virus to others.

In short, there is much to be joyful about even as we grapple with the challenges of our time. As Dr. Maya Angelou famously said “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”

As we celebrate and remember on this World AIDS Day, we must take her words to heart. We will encounter these challenges, learn how to rise from them, and come out of this stronger together.

Sincerely, Tyler

March 20th Marks National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

March 20th is National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Unfortunately, new HIV infection rates having been increasing in recent years among American Indians and Alaskan Natives. Yet, rates have been decreasing during this time-period for white communities.  Our Native populations are disproportionately affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic – a fact that is rarely highlighted even by HIV/AIDS-focused organizations. Part of the problem is the “other” designation on medical and epidemiological intake forms…

“Other” is oft the catchall phrase used to identify American Indians, Alaska Natives, Asians, and Pacific Islanders.  The generic label disassociates the stories, struggles, and resilience of these communities.  Behind the “other” are people, families, and rich culture and traditions.  American Indian and Alaska Native communities deserve the right, just like every other community, to be named.

Today on National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, we urge everyone to remove the “other” label intake forms, reports, and all other means of demographic grouping. Those of Native populations, we welcome your distinct contextualized voice on the effect of HIV/AIDS in your life. To all others, reach out to your Native friends, neighbors, and colleagues with compassion and empathy – or listen to Native HIV stories and PSAs. HIV/AIDS is an enemy all individuals can rally against.

CAP Honors National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD)

February 27, 2016, Cascade AIDS Project (CAP) is honoring National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD), a community mobilization initiative designed to encourage Blacks in our community to get educated, get tested, get involved, and get treated.

2016 marks the 16th year for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD), a national HIV testing and treatment community mobilization initiative targeted at Blacks in the United States and the Diaspora.  NBHAAD was founded in 1999 as a national response to the growing HIV and AIDS epidemic in African American communities.

This year’s 1st Annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) celebration will be held at Charles Jordan Community Center located at 9009 N Foss Ave, Portland, OR. Come celebrate with us as we offer fun for the entire family, food (while supplies last), and music. CAP will also offer incentives for those willing to take part in the free rapid HIV testing (with results in 20 minutes).

For more information check out the Facebook event.