“Transparency, Accountability, Partnerships”
World AIDS Day was established on December 1, 1988 to raise awareness and resources in response to the emerging AIDS epidemic as well as to acknowledge and mourn the loss of those who had already died. Each year we all pause on December 1 to take a deep breath, reflect on the losses and gains of the past year, look ahead. The importance of this day has not declined over the years — perhaps its importance has even grown as the epidemic no longer gets much press although the need for services, support, and education continues.
The need for something like World AIDS Day did not come as a surprise to the Billys. By the time of the first World AIDS Day the Billys were already building community for those living with HIV. By 1988 the Billys were becoming established at their home base of Saratoga Springs and hundreds who were living and dying with HIV were coming to gatherings for community and support. By that time the Billys had established the Billy Emergency Support Fund so that Billys could reach out and help those with emergency financial needs. The Billys soon would be providing HIV prevention education throughout rural Mendocino County through their paid outreach worker contracted through the Mendocino County Health Department. By the time of the first World AIDS Day the Billys were already doing the work, were learning about the impact that a heart-centered community could have on those living and dying with the disease.
I would like to invite all of Billydom to pause for a moment of reflection on World AIDS Day 2017. Light a candle, gather with friends for a memorial service, celebrate the lives of so many who have died but who are still a part of our hearts, look ahead to new and emerging challenges. After 30 years the issues have evolved. While no longer impacted by continual loss, those who have been living with HIV for years are facing many long-term health impacts, depression, isolation, a continual scramble for resources – its an extensive list. The work continues.
I would also like to invite everyone to use World AIDS Day 2017 as a reminder to give to the AIDS service organization of your choice. Whether it be the Billys, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Face 2 Face, or any of dozens of service organizations we can’t let this moment of remembrance pass without doing something in honor and respect for those who have passed. Consider making a gift in memory of someone you love. Visit someone you haven’t seen for a while. Bring your heart forward on this important day.
President, Board of Directors