World AIDS Day 2014

Today is World AIDS Day. Look for folks wearing a red ribbon! Speaking of which… Do you know where the red ribbon for AIDS awareness comes from? Way back in good ole 1991, a creative group (made up of photographers, painters, film makers, and costume designers) of twelve people gathered to discuss a new project; a New York arts organization that raises awareness for HIV. After a short brainstorming session, they came up with an idea that later became one of the most recognized symbols of the time – the red ribbon. It is worn to signify awareness and support for people living with HIV and AIDS.

Since the red ribbon was popularized for AIDS awareness, literally dozens of other colors have appeared, including: pink for breast cancer, yellow for deployed U.S. military forces, white for lung cancer, and so on and so forth. Technically, the yellow ribbon came out more than a century ago and has appeared in several songs and poems. But, the official ribbon stipulation started with the red AIDS ribbon.

Please take 90 (or more) seconds out of your day today to reflect and remember the millions and millions of people affected and infected by this horrible virus, disease, and/or syndrome.

As usual, I like to put things into perspective… So, let’s tackle some numbers first. Did you know?

  • It’s estimated that around 40 million people are currently living with HIV/AIDS.
  • Almost 40 million people have died of AIDS worldwide.
  • Each year, around 2 million people die due to HIV/AIDS, and another 2.5+ million are newly infected.
  • Although HIV/AIDS affects all regions of the world, almost 97% of those living with it reside in low to middle-income countries (mostly in sub-Saharan Africa).
  • There are more than 16 million orphans due to losing their parents from AIDS!
  • Last, but not least, around 10,000 of those who lost their lives in this horrendous battle were hemophiliacs.
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    I have been living with HIV for around 30 years. Over the years I have asked myself countless times, Why did I survive and others like me didn’t? I believe that I was spared because I am a strong and comfortable speaker. Seriously! I truly believe that I am still here to be an advocate and activist. It is my duty to stand tall and let the world know what is going on. And, potentially to help inspire those living with and dealing with HIV/AIDS. My message is a simple one… “This is not a death sentence, and you can thrive despite having it!”

    You guys might remember a post from last year called, Dum Spiro Somnium. That is my life motto and it essentially means, While I breathe, I dream. In other words, as long as I breathe I will continue to believe in my dream of a world without AIDS. Join my dream, and together we can defeat AIDS!

    My Dream is a World Without AIDS

    If you want to read my story and the journey that I have struggled through, pick up my book Survivor.

    It is our duty to NEVER FORGET and strive to beat this horrific disease!

    As part of my advocacy and message spreading, I started blogging around six years ago. Back on February 13, 2009, I created HIV Longevity, and tried to send inspirational and thought provoking messages, posts, and articles. Since then, I have posted more than 200 articles. Many of these blog articles have been based around HIV, AIDS, and dealing with the horrible problems associated with them. More recently I hibernated the HIV Longevity blog and switched to the Healthy Wealthy Tribe. Primarily I did this because I wanted to reach a broader audience and talk about things outside of HIV and AIDS.

    Since 1 in 100 people are HIV+, almost all of us are affected by this terrible virus. How are you affected by HIV/AIDS?

    This message of hope was sent with love, from my still beating heart (despite the odds).

    Signed,
    the survivor, the advocate, and the inspirational dreamer.

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    About Vaughn Ripley

    Vaughn is a happily married daddy, author, and CIO. He is an HIV+ hemophiliac, and is one of the longest surviving HIV+ people in the universe.
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    Read his personal blog: HIVLongevity.com
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    Comments

    1. Dan McNally says:

      Well said . . . keep standing tall!

    2. Carol Miletti says:

      insight and perspectives, as well as attitude is great.
      I had no idea it was 1 in 100.
      Keep on keeping on

      • Thanks, Carol! The thing that amazes me with those odds is that all of us know more than one hundred people. Yet, many of us think we don’t know anyone with HIV… Well, the odds tell a different story. Pretty much everyone knows one or more people living with HIV!

        -V

    3. Erica Keegan says:

      You are truly inspiring. I think you give strength to others to never give in or give up when facing adversity. I am getting your book for my son for Christmas because you are a wonderful role model. These facts are interesting as they show the fight against AIDS is still a major one. The media seem to concentrate on diseases with no cure and the focus has been off HIV recently with more effective treatment. Good to know you keep the real truth out there.

      • Thank you, Erica! It is true that the media focuses on many of the wrong things. Sensationalism and fear seems to be their motto. Like leaping all over the Ebola, when it only affected a few people… Yet they made it sound like the end of the world. Laughable! The flu kills 36,000 Americans every year… Ebola killed 4,877 worldwide… But, one sounds scary, so the media attached themselves to it.

        Thanks also for the kind words! I’m happy to hear you’re sharing my story with your son. Enjoy my adventure!

        Cheers,
        Vaughn

    4. Linda Robertson says:

      Great information. When the epidemic was very very new, I and others drove to Memphis, Tenn, Nov. 1983, to attend a regional meeting of the NHF. Bruce Evett, CDD, and longtime supporter of hemophilia, was speaking about this new disease called AIDS.

      In short, his message was this.

      Two thousand people have AIDS, and 100 of them are hemophiliacs! Hemophiliacs are always the canaries in the mine when it comes to blood safety, and it was clear that many in our community would die.

      When I look at your statistics today, 31 years later, it is almost overwhelming how devastating AIDS has become world wide.

      My son is now 47, his hematologist at the HTC thought he had probably been infected at age 13, meaning he has lived with AIDS for 34 years, though it was a very close call. His viral load has been undetectable since 95.

      Keep up your good work and thanks for all you do.

      • Linda,

        Thank you for such an amazing response! I am 47 just like your son… It has been a roller coaster of a ride, but I do enjoy life despite my conditions. Thanks for also sharing your insight and this rich fact-filled information.

        Stay strong, and give your son a hug for me,
        Vaughn

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