The AIDS pandemic was and some would argue still remains the greatest global health crisis of modern history. While other epidemics were just as widespread and deadly (among them tuberculosis and malaria), the mounting waves of death caused by AIDS was simply unprecedented.
The fact that we had never seen disease like this and couldn’t identify a way to stop it only added to the growing sense of panic among both the public and policy makers alike.
For all of the fear and anger the disease caused, HIV transformed the very landscape of science and politics as we know it. It moved the medical profession from its patriarchal roots to one which advocated for the rights and protections of patients. It forced the fast-tracking of the drug approvals process while spurring researchers to develop many of the genetic and biomedical tools we take for granted today.
The simple fact that HIV has gone from being an almost uniformly fatal disease to one for which people can now live healthy, normal lives is nothing short of astonishing. Still, we have a long way to go and many lessons to learn before we can consider the crisis over.
It is only by looking back that we can better understand the challenges yet to be faced as we move toward making HIV a thing of the past.
Dance. Smile. Giggle. Marvel. TRUST. HOPE. LOVE. WISH. BELIEVE. Most of all, enjoy every moment of the journey, and appreciate where you are at this moment instead of always focusing on how far you have to go.