Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Give Thanks

By Ceasar Montoya

November is the month of Thanksgiving, Veteran’s Day, and Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).  It is a time of year when we give thanks for the bounty from the harvest. The air is a bit cooler as we prepare to transition into winter.  In relation to the work we carry out in the prevention of STI/HIV and Hepatitis, I encourage you to take time and reflect on the journey we are traveling together. 
There was a time when things such as PrEP (Pre Exposure Prophylaxis) was only a wild concept.  The most recent studies show that PrEP is proving to be an effective tool in the fight against HIV.  The studies show as high as 97% effectiveness in the prevention of HIV transmission.  That’s something to get excited about.
Reflect also on your colleagues who have served in the military. They have contributed toward many of the freedoms which we can sometimes take for granted.  I invite you to take the time and thank one of your colleagues by taking them to lunch, writing a thank you note, or simply saying thanks.  Without a doubt, I am eternally grateful for the strong influence on my life by the love, honor, and respect shown to me from my father Marcos Quintana Montoya (Sgt UCMC Korea). 
CDPHE’s STI/HIV/VH Branch has partnered with Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide top quality care for our veterans.  The VA staff has routinely worked to ensure a smooth interaction for appropriate referrals with CDPHE staff.  This has afforded CDPHE the ability to offer services to veterans, impacted by STI/HIV/VH. 
Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is becoming increasingly popular in Mainstream America. While not the intent, many cities have pub crawls or parties to celebrate this auspicious event. While celebrating life is an integral component of Dia de los Muertos , it is also a time to remember and honor those who are no longer alive. Those who have passed on. Not a somber remembering, rather a time to embrace all the good memories we have of our loved ones. 
Much like the AIDS quilt commemorates the lives of loved ones who have died of the disease, Dia de los Muertos altars or displays set up with things for remembering those who have died.  Items commonly include marigold flowers, sugar skulls, pictures of deceased loved ones, candy, and other favorite items of the dead.  In celebrating the Day of the Dead, we keep them living, never forgotten, and helping us to remember to value our time here, as it is short lived. 
Let us take the time to enjoy life by celebrating those who have lost the fight against AIDS. For they have provided the necessary momentum for those today who are winning that fight. 
For more information on PrEP:

For information on Veteran’s day:

For further information on Day of the Dead: