December 1 marks World Aids Day. It is one day out of 365 when we wear the red ribbon in an effort to prompt conversations about HIV and AIDS. Broaching this conversation is not necessarily easy or comfortable for all. Younger generations are less aware and informed about the virus and many claim to not know anyone who has been affected…although the reality is likely otherwise. Still, decades on from its initial discovery we don’t see HIV and AIDS. We continue to miss opportunities to have conversations about this virus, to fight for a cure and to educate one another not only to reduce its spread but to bring visibility to those already affected.
Visual AIDS is an organisation that works 365 days of the year to draw awareness to HIV and AIDS and to give a platform to artists and writers affected to show their work and share their experiences and insights. They distribute films to museums, regularly hold exhibitions, and put on readings and performances. The World Health Organisation started World AIDS Day in 1989. In 1991 Visual AIDS created a Day Without Art to be held the same day, calling on art workers to hold a day of “mourning and action in response to the AIDS crisis.” This day is intended to celebrate those lost, to educate, and to continue the fight for a cure.
Today is a day to remember, to reflect, to celebrate, and to mobilise. If you’re looking for some perspective, to ‘meet’ someone affected, or for a way to start a conversation, Visual AIDS is a great starting point.