Our hearts go out to the families who lost loved ones in the recent tragedy in the Ukraine. Their grief is unimaginable.

My heart is especially heavy after learning of the untimely silencing of the voices and minds of over 100 of the brightest researchers, advocates, healthcare professionals, and activists within the HIV/AIDS community. Not only is this a personal loss for the loved ones of these selfless individuals, but the scientific and public health communities lost unrealized, innovative ideas regarding HIV/AIDS. The legacy of these dedicated professionals will be reflected through individuals who benefit from their research and advocacy.

As compassionate humans, we can all use this experience as an example of how intolerance for others can lead to tragic consequences. We need to recognize that no matter our sexual orientation, our religion, our ethnicity, our skin color, or the borders that surround our homeland, we are all citizens of the world with a desire to live and love within our own cultures. It is the uniqueness of each of us that make this world a fascinating place to live.

In honor of these compassionate individuals who dedicated their lives to those impacted by the physical, mental/emotional, and social effects of HIV/AIDS, maybe – just maybe – we can find it within ourselves to step back and see people for the unique beings they are, and not define a person by their sexual orientation or medical diagnosis, just as these professionals did.

“If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.”
Dalai Lama

PEACE to the friends and families of all the passengers of flight MH17. Every one of those individuals contributed to the world in their own unique way.