For a lot of people, that means making resolutions about getting fit, staying healthy, or spending more time doing stuff you love — or with the people you love. In the grueling world of HIV activism, this kind of self-care can be especially important.
There were some great gains last year on the HIV front, including a fast-tracked new drug for people with resistance, a couple of new medications approved for both those just diagnosed and long-term survivors, and some jurisdictions made great improvements to their HIV criminal statutes.
In my adopted state of California, a law signed by Governor Jerry Brown that took effect January 1 decriminalized HIV. It changed knowingly exposing someone to HIV from a felony offense with up to eight years in prison to a misdemeaner worth a six-month prison term (making it more comparable to what you could get for exposing someone to a number of other communicable diseases).
But we’re living in a political environment that has deprioritized the needs of many people living with HIV. That’s especially true for those who are transgender, who were shocked to learn this winter that the Trump administration proposed new definitions of gender, which experts fear could put trans people’s lives at risk and undermine the fight to end HIV. (We talk about this on page 21.)
People of color have also been under attack in the plast year, which is why this African-American issue is particularly timely. We celebrate Broadway actor Dimitri Moise, who recently came out as HIV-positive. (Full disclosure: Moise is managing editor of Chill magazine, a sister publication to Plus, and he’ll be coming on board as a contributing editor of Plus starting next issue.) In this same section, we look at some solutions to the issues blacks face around HIV, including how to improve care of African-American youth living with HIV, and combat the broader discrepancies facing black folks in the U.S. Our cover star, Given Stuurman, is a celebrity in South Africa. The actor stars in MTVShuga: Down South, and has helped raise conversations about HIV in South Africa and elsewhere on the continent simply by being a visible force talking about prevention, treatment, and LGBTQ issues (even if his show is censored in many African nations).
This annual issue is one of my favorite, for its celebration of what I think of as the extraordinary ordinary, that is, the every day people who are making the lives of those with HIV better through their work and activism. This year’s 25 Most Amazing People Living With HIV (page 23) are making a bigger contribution to your life, wellbeing, and happiness than you’ll ever know — by advocating for change, busting stigma, fighting archaic laws — and showing that happy, healthy, sexy, powerful people are living with HIV, too. My many, many thanks (and props!) to them. They deserve every accolade and all of our support. Now it’s your turn to tell us who and what we missed, and what you want to see in 2019.
Thanks for sharing this journey with us! Happy New Year!