Though I knew about AIDS far earlier, I first learned about AIDS from the TV show 21 Jump Street on February 7th, 1988. In the episode "A Big Disease with a Little Name" Johnny Depp's character is assigned to protect a student with AIDS at a local school that doesn't want him there. As the story progresses, they did a pretty good job of explaining what was known about the disease but, more importantly, they were careful to put humanity above all the clinical details and cold facts. It made for a compelling story which has haunted me ever since.
Because when discussing H.I.V. and AIDS, it's essential not to forget that what we're actually talking about is real people with hope, dreams, and fears just like everybody else on earth.
So on this World AIDS Day I encourage everybody to not only review the facts, but to also show their support for those who are living with AIDS. Through the miracle of modern medicine, AIDS is not the death sentence it was back in 1988, but the prejudice has never truly faded away...
But above all, be a compassionate and caring human being. That's the way they handle things on 21 Jump Street, and the world is a better place because of it.