There’s been a lot of reflection since World AIDS Day 2011 (see: Our Generation Has the Power to End It #WAD11 | Ted Eytan, MD):
- The AIDS Quilt came back to Washington, DC, after 17 years, and with it all the memories of what the medical profession didn’t do that it could have (see: Photo Friday: AIDS Quilt in DC – A journey through loss | Ted Eytan, MD) The quilt showed that the disease progressed into the health professional population and took their lives, too. These were the panels that affected me the most. Those and the ones with cutouts of hearts torn in half or with holes in them.
- We learned that “reduction of disparities” in HIV/AIDS care is wrong. What’s right is “elimination of disparities.” Whenever I see or hear the “r” word, I correct people. (see: Now Reading: Don’t believe in reducing disparities in HIV Care, believe in eliminating them | Ted Eytan, MD)
- We’ve gone from having the power to end AIDS to foreseeing its end in our lifetimes. Also see: The AIDS Quilt, and hoping for ‘The Last One’ – CNN.com
When I was giving my colleague Paulanne Balch, MD (@BPBMD2), a tour of the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health (@kptotalhealth) and we happened upon this item in the digital timeline, we almost cried. Paulanne and I began our medical careers in the same year. In our wildest dreams we could not have envisioned that we would see AIDS as a historical placeholder on a digital storyboard about the future of health.
Paulanne has the same recollection that I do – “when medicine didn’t have an answer, doctors disappeared.”
There didn’t used to be a red ribbon on the White House – you could only find one in Washington, DC on the facade of the local AIDS Services Organization (see: Whitman Walker Clinic – Miracles Happen – 2007). Now that it’s there, I’m
hopeful expecting that the profession will be there too, for this generation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, and all minority individuals. And not just in the exam room, in society, and for all the times when the answer isn’t clear. Equality = health.
Luckily, the world is becoming a more tolerant place, and Paulanne and my generation of physicians are not the only ones leading the way. Check out the work of Phil Kucab, MSIII, Wayne State University (@phillipkucab), for World AIDS Day Detroit. And this video, remember, no more “reduction” of anything – it’s “elimination.”