I'm having a terrible time saying celebrate and World AIDS Day in the same sentence. Frankly I'm not feeling this is an accomplishment worth celebrating though I understand how I'm supposed to think about it, how some think I should feel about it. I'm just still too damn sad and angry about the whole deal. I was a late bloomer when it came to being in the life, I came out in 1987. It was still very early in the epidemic and for the most part people were acting as if it could never happen to them. The 80's was a pretty wild time, I was young and feeling just a little behind coming out at the relatively old age of 27. I had my share of dating and then some but then something happened that changed my world. All of my friends started to die. This might not been totally unlike generations before me who had gone of to a war somewhere and lost friends, but this was slower, in some cases more insidious as many died slowly and unlike a war I was able to attend every wake every funeral, between 1991 & 1994 I had attended 34 funerals, it was like a car crash in slow motion. When Perry died that was the last funeral I attended, I had no more emotion to give. Out of all of those deaths I had had relationships with two Rashine who passed in the early 90's while living in North Carolina and Perry who's passing was the devastating last straw. One year I went to see the AIDS Quilt which had over 91,000 panels and was 1,293,300 square feet in size. The sheer size of it and what it stood for was over whelming added to that the many names on it that I knew.
I wish today I could say that I am over it... I'm not. For along time I felt alone and in some cases I was and I can not for the life of me understand how I passed through such times and come out of it HIV Free. I know I should feel blessed, and part of me does feel this way. Part of me remains emotional crippled, part of me is a survivor, and part of me is mad as hell that I am still here still dealing with this fucking disease.
Today is World AIDS Day and in the twenty years since the first one I have met some brave and heroic people who have been lost like my friend Byron and Perry and Carl Stepps who ran the In The Circle program for Men of Color, James Drain who was a close friend. I have so many friends who live each day with this menace and they are always in my prayers. All of them have shown an inner strength that inspires me to live on and do something with my life! and I am thankful for each of them!
Let me close by saying that there is so much to do and there are organizations that can help such as the World AIDS Day organization, and in Detroit you can contact KICK and finally in Toronto ACT. Please if you need help or if you can donate money or time I am sure your help will be appreciated. Always wear a condom because getting sick is not cool!
World AIDS Day, observed December 1 each year, is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. AIDS has killed more than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007,[including 330,000 children. Over three-quarters of these deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, retarding economic growth and destroying human capital. Most researchers believe that HIV originated in sub-Saharan Africa during the twentieth century. AIDS was first recognized by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1981 and its cause, HIV, identified by American and French scientists in the early 1980s and an estimated 33 million people worldwide live with HIV as of 2007. This makes it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history. Despite recent, improved access to antiretroviral treatment and care in many regions of the world, the AIDS epidemic claimed an estimated 2 million lives in 2007, of which about 270,000 were children. The concept of a World AIDS Day originated at the 1988 World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programmes for AIDS Prevention. Since then, it has been taken up by governments, international organizations and charities around the world.
From its inception until 2004, UNAIDS spearheaded the World AIDS Day campaign, choosing annual themes in consultation with other global health organizations. In 2005 this responsibility was turned over to World AIDS Campaign (WAC), who chose Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise as the main theme for World AIDS Day observances through 2010, with more specific sub-taglines chosen annually. This theme is not specific to World AIDS Day, but is used year-round in WAC's efforts to highlight HIV/AIDS awareness within the context of other major global events including the G8 Summit. World AIDS Campaign also conducts “in-country” campaigns throughout the world, like the Student Stop AIDS Campaign, an infection-awareness campaign targeting young people throughout the UK.
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