Tomorrow, December 1, is the 32nd annual World AIDS Day, honoring those we have lost to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In the early days of the AIDS crisis, many of our friends, family, co-workers, and other loved ones were suffering and dying from this horrible disease. Fear and discrimination were prevalent—even in health care—and those suffering with HIV/AIDS had limited options.
Fenway Health was one of the few health care facilities at the time treating patients with dignity and respect instead of fear. In fact, the first HIV diagnosis in New England was made right here at Fenway Health in 1981.
Since those dark days, Fenway Health has been on the front lines working with patients and serving as a beacon of hope for the community and we have become New England’s largest provider of outpatient HIV care. Every day, we work to prevent new HIV infections, fight discrimination, advocate for governmental policies that positively change the HIV landscape, provide care and treatment, research vaccines and other prevention tools and strategies, and help those who are living with or at risk for contracting HIV live better lives.
Each year, Fenway helps approximately 2,700 patients living with HIV stay healthy through anti-retroviral drug treatments. We also work to prevent new infections by conducting 19,000 HIV tests, helping patients get on PrEP, and employing public health prevention strategies through AIDS Action. As part of our “whole person” approach to health care, our Behavioral Health case managers play a crucial role and ensure that patients stay on their medications and help them work through the complicated emotional issues that come with an HIV diagnosis. Additionally, The Fenway Institute works to end new infections through cutting edge HIV vaccine research and innovative studies that focus on preventing new HIV cases through the use of PrEP for both adults and young people.
We are marking this World AIDS Day with a series of amazing events to celebrate the lives of those we have lost and honor the courage of those living with HIV. While this is a solemn day, it is also a day of hope. Starting tomorrow at noon, join the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence for a virtual World AIDS Day Vigil. At 1 PM, we’ll kick off our expert panel discussion about the HIV/AIDS epidemic and what the future of treatment and care might look like. The evening will be one of fun and celebration as we bring you Banter & Bingo, hosted by the amazing Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Don’t forget to check out our social media throughout the day!
While we have come far in this fight, we have still have a long way to go. As the world faces a new pandemic that echoes the early days of the HIV/AIDS crisis, we recommit to building a future without new HIV cases.