We are #StillHere

World AIDS Day is an annual campaign on December 1 to raise awareness and tribute to people affected by and living with HIV. As an organization that was founded in 1983, in the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, and built on the passionate and dedicated community that came together to care for people living with HIV when no one else would, we wanted to highlight the community that is #StillHere.

#StillHere is about sharing the stories, lives, and dreams of people affected by HIV. From those who worked tirelessly to help people when no government agency or hospital would. To those who sadly lost their lives, but are #StillHere and alive in the hearts and minds of every person they touched. To those who are affected by it today – thriving, living, and loving their friends, family, and partners, both here and in their memories. To those who are HIV negative, thanks to the incredible work of the people that came before them that helped build a better future. #StillHere is an opportunity to walk once more with the ones who were taken too soon, to work with those who built the foundation that we walk on, to listen to the ones who survived and share their memories, and to inspire hope in a future generation. #StillHere is for all of us.

“It took me over a year to become undetectable and reverse my status from AIDS to HIV. During that time, I lost my boyfriend, and all the plans I had for my future, but things have improved. I’m #StillHere because of the men and women who fought for effective drug treatments that saved my life, but also to give hope to others that you can get through this, and go on to pursue your dreams.”

“I have been an AIDS volunteer since 1989. Things have changed, but AIDS is still an isolating disease. As a care team volunteer, I help a man get out into the community and feel like a ‘normal’ person – which he is.” #StillHere

“I was diagnosed in 1988 when I was four months pregnant with my second daughter. I am #StillHere on this wild roller coaster ride of life because of the support from case managers, counselors, my huge support system, and being adherent to my meds – the most important of all. And also because of my two beautiful daughters who are negative, two handsome grandsons, and a boyfriend of 14 years who is not positive and supports me. This is why I am #StillHere!”

“I have been HIV+ for 18 years. As a woman living with HIV, meeting other women newly diagnosed or at risk that had no idea they were at risk, is sad to me. I also did not know I was at risk and was shocked when I found out. I am living my life, yet disclosure is really hard when trying to date because of the lack of education there is out there. But, I am #StillHere and grateful!”

“I'm very thankful and blessed for being #StillHere after all of these years. I was diagnosed in 1988 and I was determined to stay as long as I could. I was surrounded with friends that were all HIV+. Back then, the meds were very harsh. It felt like we were the guinea pigs. The determination I made was to stay away from using illegal drugs and be vigilant in taking my meds regularly.”

“I was born HIV+ in 1983. Two years later, my father died of AIDS. Eight years after that, following a long illness, my mother also died of AIDS. I am #StillHere after 35 years, despite my income level and ever-changing insurance status.”

“I was diagnosed with HIV 21 years ago. I am #StillHere thanks to all of the people who participated in clinical trials that led to the development of the drugs that allow me to live a ‘normal’ life. Without these drugs, I'm certain I would have died years ago.”

“My children were the third generation of my family to take AZT, though for them, it was a prophylactic measure after birth that assisted in preventing them from contracting HIV. My mother, unaware of her HIV status, had transmitted HIV to my brother and me in the 1980s. She passed away in 1995, on the eve of protease inhibitors. My brother and I are #StillHere, surviving and thriving in our third decades with HIV.”

“I have ‘positively’ lived since the summer of 1996 and have seen tens of clients and friends die of HIV. My kid is now 16, and we are #StillHere by the Grace of God.”

“I have been HIV+ for half my life. I was clinically diagnosed in August of 1991. 27 years HIV positive and I am #StillHere. I am here because HIV is what I have and not who I am. With the support of family, community, and medications, I am a survivor. I refuse to let HIV beat me, and by that, I mean if I stay healthy and live a long product of life, then I have beaten this disease and it hasn’t beaten me.”

“Nearly thirty years ago I learned my status, and yes I am #StillHere thanks to my stubborn resistance to taking mono therapy when there were no good options; thanks to finding a doctor who listened, to finding other positive women who understood, and to learning all I could about this disease.”

“Finding community was life saving for me. Everyone deserves to feel like they have a community of folks who understand. I’m #StillHere to ensure that others have those same possibilities.”

“I can do anything that anyone else does – so what is living with HIV? – nothing more than another day in the neighborhood, except with a bunch of new friends and a great community of people who understand this particular disease, just like other support groups. I (we) are not contagious. We are JUST people.” #StillHere

“I have been working in the field of HIV for over four years and I am #StillHere because of the sacrifices community members from all walks of life have made in order to give the future and I a chance to move forward. Although HIV affects communities differently, I understand the importance of making HIV sex positive so that future generations can see a world without HIV.”

Although the AIDS epidemic is behind us, the HIV community is #StillHere standing strong. Lifelong is #StillHere providing care to people living with HIV and evolving as those needs change. Lifelong continues to meet people where they are at, assess existing barriers, and fight to get people the care they need.

Share your #StillHere statement on social media and tag Lifelong!