What Barack Obama Wants Us To Remember On World AIDS Day

Barack Obama wants you to join in the fight against AIDS, and he's willing to share confidential files on "the aliens" to encourage you to do so.
Obama was a surprise guest on Jimmy Kimmel's annual (RED) Shopathon special, which benefits an AIDS organization founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver. He showed up in a video to tell viewers that while HIV/AIDS can be a devastating disease, there is something to celebrate.
"I know we live in a time when cable news and our Twitter feeds can make it feel like cynicism is everywhere," Obama said in the video. "But when it comes to the fight against HIV/AIDS there is some genuinely good news to share."
Advertisement
We've made great strides in treatment of and activism for AIDS since the epidemic began in the 1980s, Obama said.
"More than half of all people living with the virus are on life-saving medication, and AIDS-related deaths have been cut in half since their peak," he said. "It wasn’t down to mysterious forces or chance, but the countless people working for years who chose to make this progress."
Those are the people we need to celebrate now, but we also need to emulate them. Even though AIDS deaths and stigma have both vastly improved since thousands of people were dying from the disease in the US and Europe in the '80s and people believed you could contract AIDS simply by touching someone, stigma and misinformation still exists — and keeps people from getting tested or speaking openly with their sexual partners.
So, Obama wants us to be like those people who fought so hard to develop better medications and to educate their family and friends about HIV/AIDS.
"When we reject cynicism and pessimism in favor of a relentless optimism that says, 'However long it takes, however lonely the fight,' each of us can make a difference. That’s what I believe," he said.
Today is World AIDS Day, so it's a good time to put Obama's words into action and support those living with HIV/AIDS. That can mean donating to a charity doing AIDS activist work and research, like (RED), or educating yourself so that you can be a good ally and break stigma whenever you see it.
Advertisement
And in case you need any more encouragement, there's always those alien files. Obama joked that he has them in his desk right now, but unfortunately the world may never see them since he's not actually allowed to give out "classified information." Still, helping people with HIV/AIDS is worth it, Obama says, with or without confirmation that aliens actually do exist.
"Sorry, Jimmy, you can't see those," he says about the files. "But the rest of you watching tonight can help us end this pandemic once and for all. You can help us win this fight. You can help us change lives and write a future full of promise and hope. So let's all get to work."
Read these stories next:
Advertisement