“While there have been great advancements in the medical realm, we haven’t made nearly as much progress in dealing with the social aspects of living with HIV. Stigma, lack of housing, being under or un-insured, income inequity, and discrimination leave many fighting to survive rather than being focused on their health (and rightfully so). My hope is that together, medical professionals, program managers, case workers, community members, and people living with HIV, can change the tide. It is up to us to be innovative, compassionate, and share the expertise we each have in order to break down barriers and achieve our goals for treatment, care and prevention while improving the overall quality of life for people living with HIV.”
Community Leadership Messages
"We can decrease the number of new HIV cases, put an end to HIV-related stigma, and eliminate the barriers to care that people living with HIV face, but we can only do so together."
"It has been difficult hearing ongoing ignorant and stigmatizing comments, but I have grown a thicker skin and educate offline when possible. I have great hopes that we will be successful modernizing our STI statutes to reflect scientific advances and support public health partnerships as well [as] repealing laws that target people living with HIV."
"Being involved in the battle to change current laws that specifically target people living with knowledge of HIV in Colorado has been a real labor of love. I have loved partnering with our elected officials and champions, the state and local health department, ASOs [AIDS Services Organizations], and especially the community of people living with HIV — and those who ally to join in the struggle."
"Treatment for HIV can suppress one’s viral load, greatly decreasing the chances of transmission especially when combined with other protective methods, like condoms. For some, sharing their HIV diagnosis can be hard. It is crucial we come together to end stigma surrounding HIV, both for those living with HIV, and for those who are not. Opening the doors of communication allows people to freely talk about their status with partners, get tested, and begin treatment if necessary."
"No matter who you are, it can and will affect you. But you can also have a positive effect on those around you. And I have shown people that you can live with HIV and still make a positive change in the world doing so. We live, breathe, cry, laugh, run and dance as well as the next but it just happens that we get to put a symbol next to our names, and that symbol is a positive one."
"My choice to work primarily with adolescents and young adults speaks to what I’m most passionate about – identifying young people early, giving them care and changing their individual lives to allow them to live with a chronic illness, and thrive as adults."
“We share a common goal – for people to get the care they need, at a price they can afford, and take charge of their HIV infection now and in the future. The Affordable Care Act is opening new opportunities for coverage. We expect that very few people with HIV or AIDS will remain uninsured after it is fully implemented.”
"We shouldn’t have this fear around HIV anymore – we shouldn’t have a fear around getting tested, or talking about it with sexual partners, family and friends. There’s still a stigma our community has about HIV/AIDS, and if there’s stigma you’re less likely to talk about it and less likely to get tested."
"The pioneering spirit of Denver has always been and continues to be an inspirational and progressive means of ending AIDS around the world. From the Denver Principles in 1983, to the Gardner Cascade in 2012, to signing on as a Fast Track City in 2015, Denver has been a leading influence on global HIV/AIDS eradication. This is possible for all cities and all nations with the perseverance of their community partnerships, foresight of their professional caregivers, and the meaningful efforts of dedicated volunteers. As Denver is situated at the base of the Rocky Mountains, I am constantly reminded that the sun only sets behind something larger than we as a community are."
"When I started, the saying was kinda, ‘you die with AIDS,’ now it’s ‘you with AIDS.’ There was a stigma everywhere about a person with AIDS, people thinking you got it from a toilet seat or shaking hands – that’s pretty much gone away. It’s a big improvement, but we need to keep working."
“We have been beneficial in addressing some of those misconceptions but I think overall hopefully we’re getting some message out [so] people will get tested and know their HIV status. More importantly though, is to practice safe sexual activities.”
“The understanding of the immune system has been greatly enhanced by research into HIV, which targets specific white blood cells. In fact, the whole field of immunology has greatly benefited. Medications to fight HIV have been models for development of medications for other diseases, such as protease inhibitors for Hepatitis C. Fifteen years ago, protease inhibitors were developed for HIV.”
“Public worry about HIV and AIDS has diminished as the disease is seen as more manageable with new therapies. But we’re still seeing some 400 new cases each year; that has not changed a whole lot.”