At the Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion, we believe in the United Nations theme for this World AIDS Day: The Right to Health. We affirm the rights of all people to healthy bodies, minds and spirits, recognizing that there are many paths to health and wholeness.

Today, we remember the 35 million people lost due to HIV/AIDS and recognize that many in our community—lovers, spouses, friends, parents, children and others—continue to grieve for them. We miss them and mourn the many contributions that they would have made to our world.

We recognize the trauma that many of us still live with after caring for the tremendous numbers of people in our communities who were and are ill and dying.

We are grateful for those who continue to work diligently and effectively on prevention, treatment, and care. We celebrate the new developments that lead to longer, healthier lives for people with HIV/AIDS and impede the spreading of the virus.

We know that we still live with AIDS. HIV continues to impact our lives, particularly among African-American and Latino gay and bisexual men, where transmission rates remain high. Poverty, racism, and a lack of access to affordable health care all contribute to this crisis. We all share the responsibility of protecting the precious lives of these members of our community.

On World AIDS Day 2017, we call on people of faith to:

  • Act pastorally and compassionately, offering words of comfort and hope to those who live with HIV/AIDS and those who mourn the dead;
  • Educate about testing, safer sex, affordable health care in our communities;
  • Learn about and act on the impacts of poverty and racism on health and wellbeing;
  • Ensure that those who are living with HIV/AIDS have access to competent health care, effective medications, clean water, nutritious food, and safe living conditions;
  • End the stigma of HIV/AIDS, recognizing this as a medical issue, not a moral one;
  • Work for universal health care around the world, affirming this as a basic human right.

#myrighttohealth, #WAD2017