Archive for December 1st, 2006

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The Band Keeps Playing…

December 1, 2006

Today is the 18th annual World AIDS Day. It is also the 17th year that the Day With(out) Art is observed.

There are so many things to say about HIV/AIDS. So many different avenues to venture down. But the hard and true facts are that people are STILL dying from this disease. We don’t hear about the effects of AIDS on our culture much any more here in North America. We’re lucky to have drugs that can help people with HIV/AIDS live very very long lives with undetectable traces of the virus running through their blood. We (as in the GLBTQA community) see bright glossy advertisements for these “cocktails” in our newspapers and magazines, and we think “everything is ok.” Everything is pretty freaking far from ok. I think it’s GREAT that those who can afford these drugs are able to take them and live full (ish…the ads NEVER talk about some of the…explosive..side effects) and long lives. But there are MILLIONS of people (both here and abroad)suffering with AIDS worldwide to whom these medical marvels are just not affordable/available.

While only 12% of the worlds population lives on the African continent, it is home to over 60% of the AIDS infected population. Worldwide, only 1% of the general population is infected with AIDS. Sub-Saharan Africa? 11%. This is totally unacceptable. Yes, we need a cure. But this is a PREVENTABLE disease….what we need is education.

There are those who STILL point the finger at the queer community as the source (and this is hotly debated) and the only people who need to “deal” with the AIDS epidemic. HIV/AIDS is NOT a gay disease. It is a worldwide disease that is effecting the heterosexual population in numbers that far (FAR) surpass their homosexual counterparts. This is a GLOBAL issue.

In this country, the queer community was amongst the “first” to react to the AIDS crisis. Through our own art, research, and education, “we” were amongst the first to really reach the general population about the importance of AIDS education. We lost a lot of fighters. We continue to lose fighters, but, thankfully, not at the rates we did in the Eighties and early Nineties. But there are still many of our young queer population unknowingly contracting, and passing on this deadly, but COMPLETELY preventable disease.

Education is the key, but not just about HIV/AIDS, but about the poor choices (drugs, alcohol, etc) that limit one’s ability to make wise decisions about their own sexual health.

I don’t know what else I can do but to continue to support organizations that are working on education and research on AIDS. By continuing to offer good sexual health advice to my friends, and young queers who I interact with in my community. By keeping myself educated, and up to date on current HIV/AIDS research.

Please, today, join in the fight against AIDS by visiting the Light to Unite website. Bristol-Myers Squibb (yes, I know, a drug company. For today, I will keep quiet on the issues I have with this) will donate $1 for every “candle” lit to the National AIDS fund.

Thanks for reading today, friends.

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