Thursday, December 1, 2011

World AIDS Day: No, I Will Not Shut Up About AIDS Today

World AIDS Day by U.S. Embassy New Delhi
World AIDS Day, a photo by U.S. Embassy New Delhi on Flickr.
In case anyone was wondering, no, I will not shut up about AIDS today. It's World AIDS Day. WORLD. AIDS. DAY. Get it? You can't find any place in this world that isn't affected by this disease. If you don't like pollution, noise and over-crowding, you can move to the mountains. If you hate cold weather, you can move to Florida. If you have allergies, you can move to the desert. If you want to get away from AIDS and the terrible things it does to people, families, cities, and economies, your nearest option is Earth's moon.

I'd like to keep this post positive, so I won't dwell on the fact that when gay men started becoming seriously ill and dying horrific deaths in the 80s, the same world that is having an AIDS day today did nothing to stop it. Instead, I'll focus on the fact that today, AIDS is something we talk about in public. Today, AIDS has its very own day.

I remember when the first AIDS cases started presenting. I was nine. I watched and read everything I could about AIDS. I wanted desperately for someone to find a cure for it. I couldn't bear the thought that such wonderful people were dying in such a brutal, merciless way. I was terrified and somehow sure that one day I would lose someone I loved to AIDS. 'One day' was March 18, 2006 and 'someone I loved' was my brother Andy. I still watch and read everything I can find about AIDS, and I'm still afraid of losing loved ones to AIDS.

Today I kept correcting myself when I wanted to say, "Happy World AIDS Day!" to folks. I'm not sure why. Though it doesn't appear to be a celebratory holiday (like Valentine's Day), I'm still happy for the advancements that have been made and grateful every day that my friends who have been diagnosed with HIV are still alive and kicking ass. I'm happy I am able to raise funds for charities that help people living with AIDS and fund research that will lead to a cure someday (that will be a much better 'someday' than March 18, 2006). I'm happy to have the good company of others who are working hard to help advance this cause too. I'm happy to know all of the beautiful and inspiring people I've met on my path to help find a cure. And one World AIDS Day, I'll be happy we found a cure. I'm sure of this too.

Happy World AIDS Day, everyone!

Oh--before I go, I want to share a link to a profoundly moving interactive project called A Day With HIV In America. It's a photo project created and shared by Positively Aware Magazine with the goal of ending the stigma attached to HIV and AIDS. Visit. Enjoy. Share.

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