Reflection by Paula Uruburok:

This year, as part of World AIDS day Unity in collaboration with Campus Ministry and Sigma Tau Delta put together a vigil and literary reading where students, faculty and staff gathered at Christ The King Chapel to stand in solidarity with people everywhere who have fought and are still fighting HIV and AIDS. Students read literary pieces that reflected on loss, grief and what it is like to deal with a disease like that. In place of the AIDS Quilt that Unity usually brings to Canisius, a slideshow of queer artwork was displayed on a blank screen. And one by one, attendees lit small candles and passed on the light.

World AIDS day happens every year on December 1st. On this day people around the globe come together to remember those who have lost their battle to HIV/AIDS and to raise awareness for those who are still fighting for their lives. HIV/AIDS has become an epidemic that currently affects 37 million lives around the world, and though in the last fifteen years the number of people infected has lowered by 35% the fight isn’t over yet. While access to treatment has become more available over half the people suffering from the disease have yet to obtain the medical treatment to survive. People suffering from the HIV/AIDS are often subjects to discrimination and stigma, and therefore are marginalized by prejudice and the lack of education about the disease.

As families and friends come together to celebrate the holidays just remember that millions of families around the world have lost a loved one to this terrible epidemic and that although the medical treatment is available, too many are still unable to access it. Remember that just like us, they’re humans and that their illness does not define their humanity. And let’s work on bringing the number of victims from millions to zero.