World AIDS Day 2020: Parents and Children

World AIDS Day 2020: Parents and Children

Today is World AIDS Day, and even while another pandemic takes the headlines, HIV/AIDS continues to shatter lives, families, and communities. I’m therefore continuing my tradition of sharing stories and statistics about parents and children with HIV/AIDS.

AIDS Ribbon

Here are the latest sobering worldwide statistics about parents and children of all orientations and identities. According to UNICEF:

Of the estimated 38.0 million [confidence bounds: 31.5-44.6 million] people living with HIV worldwide in 2019, 2.8 million [1.9-3.7 million] were children aged 0-19. Each day in 2019, approximately 880 children became infected with HIV and approximately 310 children died from AIDS related causes, mostly because of inadequate access to HIV prevention, care and treatment services.

As of 2019, roughly 13.8 million [10.2-17.9 million] children under the age of 18 had lost one or both parents to AIDS-related causes. Millions more have been affected by the epidemic, through a heightened risk of poverty, homelessness, school dropout, discrimination and loss of opportunities. These hardships include prolonged illness and death. Of the estimated 690,000 [490,000-990,000] people who died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2019, 110,000 [74,000-180,000] (or approximately 16 per cent) of them were children under 20 years of age.

In 2019, around 150,000 [94,000-240,000] children aged 0-9 were newly infected with HIV, bringing the total number of children aged 0-9 living with HIV to 1.1 million [780,000-1.3 million]. Nearly 90 per cent of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa. One bright spot on the global horizon is the rapid decline of approximately 52 per cent in new HIV infections among children aged 0-9 since 2010 due to stepped-up efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. However, the number of new HIV infections among adolescents (aged 10-19) has declined at a slower rate of about -34 per cent.

While those numbers are marginally better than in the previous year, UNICEF also notes that progress “is at risk of stagnating or even reversing if women and children are unable to access essential HIV services during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

It’s not a matter of choosing to fight one pandemic over the other, though. Our work to address these diseases must go hand in hand. Perhaps some of the lessons learned from dealing with one pandemic can even help us address others. This is why epidemiologists are important and why we must listen to them as well as to people in the communities hardest hit by any pandemic. As we observe World AIDS Day today, then, let us also recommit to demanding that our elected officials to conduct science-based policymaking, guided by a sense of humanity, international cooperation, and social justice.

This year’s World AIDS Day also coincides with #GivingTuesday. I hope many choose to include AIDS-related organizations in their giving, for they are among the many charities that need our help this year.

Miles Morales pays touching tribute to World AIDS Day

Spider-Man: Miles Morales pays touching tribute to World AIDS Day

As Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales hits the stores, eagle-eyed players have noticed a subtle yet touching tribute to World AIDS day hidden in the game.

The new game for Playstation 4 and 5 follows web-slinging teen hero Miles Morales, who’s the very first Black character to don the Spidey costume.

The latest adventure in the Spider-Man universe is packed full of clever details that bring Marvel’s New York City to life – including one very important flash of red on a jacket lapel.

The refreshing little touch of an AIDS ribbon didn’t go unnoticed by gay video game director Simon Smith, who shared a screenshot with his followers on Twitter.

“Awesome to see a World AIDS Day red ribbon featured on the Miles Morales game title screen,” he said. “The game is set in NYC around Christmas so this makes sense as World AIDS Day is 1 December.”

It’s not the game’s only nod to inclusivity.

Miles’ Afro-Latino culture is placed the heart of the story, with the young Spider-Man often heard speaking Spanglish with his Puerto Rican mother. His Black heritage is also acknowledged through the prominent hip-hop music interwoven through the game.

He’s accompanied by a refreshingly diverse cast, including his best friend Ganke Lee, who is Korean, while other major characters like The Tinkerer and The Prowler are both Black. There’s also a deaf character introduced partway through the story.

And as a special treat to fans, the game’s creators have included several subtle Easter eggs paying tribute to the Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman, who tragically died in August aged 43.

Observant fans noticed that one of the New York streets was named after him and a special dedication to the “noble king” was placed in the credits.

Now you can see all 48,000 panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt online / GayCities Blog

Now you can see all 48,000 panels of the AIDS

We are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic but let’s not forget one of its horrendous predecessors, HIV/AIDS, which has taken a huge toll on gay men and continues to wreak havoc across the globe.

To bring awareness to the 40-year struggle of AIDS — a story of heartbreak, remembrance, social justice, activism, resilience, and hope —  the National AIDS Memorial is launching a new web platform where you can see every panel contributed to the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

“The National AIDS Memorial stands as a marker in the national landscape to the tragedy of HIV and AIDS and this new web platform provides an important tool in helping share the stories of the pandemic,” said John Cunningham, executive director of the National AIDS Memorial. “As a person living with AIDS, I never thought I would have to live through two pandemics. While very different, there is a thread that pulls through connecting them together, rooted in stigma and discrimination. The Quilt and storytelling efforts can help us learn from the past to positively change the future.”

Through this unique storytelling initiative, the memorial features stories every week showing the intimate human experience of AIDS during the 40 years of the pandemic. The first 21 features have been selected from the memorial’s own storytelling programs and from other public sites. These stories testify to the long struggle of AIDS with the aim to educate, to remember, to reflect, and to support the work yet to be done.

—The 2020/40 stories include a moving memory about the panel made in the honor of two lovers lost to AIDS, along with the letters written in support that are part of the Library of Congress Quilt Archive.

—The story of AIDS activist Reggie Williams speaks to the courage of those who raised their voices to call for government responsibility and accountability.

—Stories from survivors, like Marcy Fraser, a nurse in the AIDS ward at the San Francisco General Hospital during the darkest days of the pandemic express the trauma of the early phase of the pandemic.

—Stories about Cleve Jones, the founder of the AIDS Quilt, and Jack Porter, a long-time volunteer, and historian of the National AIDS Memorial Grove, recount the efforts of survivors who dedicated themselves to activism, education, and commemoration.

—Stories of hope highlight current AIDS activism by young people like Antwan Matthews, a recipient of the Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholarship, who organizes HIV education programs within communities of color.

“These stories help connect people in a very personal way to the AIDS pandemic, not just from 40 years ago, but today,” said Josh Gamson, a dean and professor at the University of San Francisco and National AIDS Memorial board member who co-chairs its storytelling programs. “The face of AIDS has changed over time and this effort shows how the history and lessons from the AIDS pandemic are important today, as our country faces another pandemic and is once again torn apart by social injustice, bigotry, and fear.”