Today is World AIDS Day.
Back when I was in high school, there was talk going around about the "disease that kills faggots dead," and I remember very well listening to some insane bitch on television spout off about how God's retribution against the homosexuals was at hand. Of course, for the homophobic masses, it was too good to be true. Or too good to last. Because AIDS soon moved on to heterosexuals, which was still okay because they obviously did something to incur God's wrath, right? But then children started getting AIDS and, since nobody wants to think that God would give a child AIDS, attitudes towards the disease started to change.
But not fast enough.
Because I also remember the widespread panic that hit in the late 80's as there was serious concerns that the AIDS crisis was going to wipe out a massive chunk of the population before anything could be done to stop it. This eventually proved to be true, but not to the genocidal levels that were originally projected by some of the more alarmist "specialists" in the field.
I've known exactly four people who have died of AIDS.
To me this seems like a tragic number to have died from anything, but it's barely a blip on the radar to some people I know. People who tell horror stories of how they did nothing but go to funerals in the late 80's and early 90's, and how most everybody they knew who wasn't already dead was dying. An unfathomable situation that would test the resolve of anybody.
Yet the human condition prevails. The survivors pick up the pieces and move on as best they can...
AIDS is not over.
AIDS is happening right now.
AIDS is still killing people around the globe.
And now a new generation is reaching sexual maturity. A generation which has no memory of the rampant destruction that AIDS is capable of unleashing... not in some far away country, but right here at home.
Somebody has to educate them
And that's why today we remember.
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I can’t count the number of people I’ve known who have died of AIDS. For several years I volunteered for an agency that delivered meals and helped get AIDS patients to their doctor’s appointments and pick up their prescriptions, etc.
Luckily only a few of my friends are HIV+ and current treatments have so far kept them all healthy.
I remember very well the proclamations that AIDS was God’s revenge on degenerates.
I grew up seeing footage of men covered in sores on the news, almost always coupled with some sound bite about how these people were getting what they deserved.
I also grew up thinking that because I was gay, it was inevitable that I would die of AIDS.
Pretty heavy for a 12 year old to resign himself to dying in a horrible way simply because of a lack of education. Sadly, this lack of education is still a problem.
There are still a significant number of people out there who believe that this is just a gay disease.
Hopefully, the new administration will address the global epidemic.
Awesome post, Dave, as per usual. I’m afraid we’ll see an increase in AIDS cases due to the Bush administration abstinence only education like we’ve seen a rise in std’s. I hope I’m wrong… seriously hope I’m wrong.
Thanks for posting this. I wanted to write my own post and started a few times, but it was too difficult and too personal. I worried about folks interpreting my silence as not caring, but in the end I decided to skip it. I’m glad you didn’t.
Nicely done Dave. It is refreshing to see that there are still at least a few people out there who have some compassion for those of us who endure the stigma of living with HIV.
Thanks for the great reminder, Dave. I recall the panic about AIDS when I was in high school, and you’re right, I don’t think the same level of caution is being practiced by kids these days.
I lost my brother-in-law to AIDS. Fortunately, because of education and safe sex practices, I still have my brother.
I remember as far back as 1981 that the gay community was sounding the alarm about AIDS. It took several years for the rest of the world to catch up.
We’ve come a long way, but have a long way to go.
Excellent post. Thank you.
Growing up when I did in the area that I did…yeah, I knew quite a few folks who died of AIDS. While it does seem to have slowed down (I have a cousin who is living with it and he is as healthy as a horse!), we should never, ever forget.
World Community Grid.
This is a chance for mass participation in research that will help millions around the world, you can sign up at that website, which provides you with software called BOINC that you download and install on your computer(s) (Win/Mac OS/Linux compatible), and it uses your unused processor time to crunch data for research in fields such as:
Providing Nutritious Rice for nations/people in need
.. and more projects are always added.
And it doesn’t affect your work in any way.
I am not affiliated with this website in shape or form, I’m just trying to spread the word.
I also think that your post is an incentive for us to do anything we can to help. And this costs next to nothing, all you have to do is keep your computer on.
All the best,
Luckily, AIDS hasn’t touched my life or the lives of my loved ones. But, it so very easily could. I think there is still a stigma regarding it that it’s only a disease that affects homosexuals or drug users. And that drives me crazy that people who are neither of the above think they’re immune.
Thanks for keeping this in the forefront of our minds, Dave.
A very important message. There are kids growing up that have never known a world without AIDS so it is important to keep the word out there.