Monthly Archives: February 2012

Why It Matters

Tonight I had an epiphany of sorts. I’ve often been troubled by my interest in HIV/AIDS. Why do I now care so much? I’ve been tempted to think it’s for the selfish reason of I am HIV+. As far as my health goes I’m well taken care of and have little to worry about. Why do I care to put so much energy to a cause that seems so minuscule in comparison to some of the other health issues we face? Many modern diseases seem to effect so many more people than HIV/AIDS…. cancer, MS, autism, diabetes… the list goes on and on, and this is only considering the health problems we face, let alone the problems with the world economy and such. Often times I feel guilty and selfish to be advocating for awareness for a disease that *seems* to effect so fewer people than many others that we are faced with. I can’t explain it really, but it sucks to feel this way.

I had a great night out tonight with a dear friend. His father committed suicide 5 years after being diagnosed with AIDS. That is his connection with HIV/AIDS. It’s always impressed me how much he puts towards awareness… how much money he donates, and how important it remains for him to fight. We had dinner at the restaurant of a friend of his. Turns out her brother died of AIDS a few years back. After a couple glasses of wine and some heart to heart discussion by the end of the night it became clear. While showing me a video of an Annie Lennox (who’s brother died from AIDS) singing “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” it clicked for me. HIV/AIDS is one of the only big-time diseases we face that can honestly change someone’s opinion about the type of person you are. No other disease seems to cause the “shame” that can come along with HIV/AIDS. I’m not very good with words, and I’m struggling to put my feelings down here. What about my friend’s dad? What about all the ways it has affected my friend and his life? What about our friend who owned the restaurant? She can’t go a day without missing her brother. What about Annie Lennox… and the way her life has been affected by HIV/AIDS? What about that 19 year-old young man I saw last week who’s family has disowned him after finding out he was gay and HIV+? What about the hemophiliac, like Ryan White, who contracted the disease through no fault of his own, but still had to face all the shitty stigma and hatred that comes along with it. These few examples come nowhere close to describing the hurt and extreme pain that has been felt because of HIV/AIDS. Imagine having a happy life when all of a sudden every friend you have, literally EVERYBODY around you and in your community suddenly begins DYING because of an unknown sickness. Imagine the fear! Imagine living through that only to catch that sickness 20 years later because of a stupid mistake that most everyone makes. Now imagine all the families around these people. All not only effected by the sickness and loss caused by HIV/AIDS, but also dealing with the fucking stigma and hatred that comes with it. Seriously, think about how that must feel!

I’ve had it extremely good. I am beyond blessed to be HIV+ and have it as easy as I do. I say this with tears in my eyes…. that is why I care… and that is why I’m thankful for my experience. I could not imagine going through what some of the people effected by this #*%@ disease have gone through. For me to be given this experience and the gifts that I have and not use them to, in some small way, make it better for those who have it hard now, or to continue the fight that so many before me have fought would make me a pathetic, and in my opinion, useless person.