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WORLD AIDS DAY 2013, A Day To Remember 745 views
Sunday, December 1, 2013 is World AIDS Day. I expect that for those who are not infected with HIV, not living with AIDS, or have not lost a loved one to the disease that this day will pass without much significance. For me, it is a day that causes me to be more aware of the virus I carry, as it marks the anniversary of when I stepped forward in 1994, to announce that I was living with HIV. It is a day that I remember my friends, like Debbie, Steve, or one of the other nearly 100 people I have had the opportunity to meet in this life who are no longer with us.
World AIDS Day, is always on December 1st. It was set aside as a day to remember those lost to HIV/AIDS, and to honor those still living with the disease. It also has become a day when awareness and educational events are held, with the red ribbon as the symbol that is usually worn by those of us, and/or those who want to show their support.
It brings to mind the memory of friends I have lost over the years, who walked the path I now walk. In the twenty plus years that I have been living with HIV/AIDS, I have attended a number of funerals, memorial services, and spoken to literally thousands of people about the impact made on my life by the epidemic. It is when World AIDS Day rolls around each year, that I am again reminded of all the families whos lives have been touched, and that causes me to wonder whether any of them who have lost loved ones, or who have loved ones living with the disease, stop to reflect, or remember. I will say that I have a younger brother who has attended speaking engagements, in which I participated in as a featured speaker, and has on past World AIDS Days called me to let me know he was thinking of me that day. I am blessed to have him and others who remember and show support, not just on World AIDS Day.
HIV/AIDS is not the only illness in the world. I am well aware that there are a number of other diseases and illnesses that affect mankind. That being said, it is the one that affects me the most, and I find in many cases, many people are unaware there is a day set aside to bring awareness to the epidemic. One reason I say this is I wear the red AIDS awareness ribbon most every day on my lapel, and on World AIDS Day, I wear a ribbon that is a bit more elaborate and larger. For the few who stop to ask what I wear the red ribbon for, I can only remember one person, in all the years I've worn the ribbon, to respond by saying she was proud I was showing my support because she had a family member who passed away from AIDS complications. I had some who ask if I can get them a ribbon to wear, while others have commented on how pretty my "Christmas" ribbon is. When I tell them what it represents, they roll their eyes and hurriedly move on.
With the advanced treatments for AIDS, I suppose there is not the sense of panic, for lack of a better description, that there seemed to be in years past. But even with that, I feel it is important to stop and pay respects to the ones no longer with us this World AIDS Day. We who still live with HIV/AIDS and especially those of us who have been witness to the many lives lost should not forget where we were before new and better treatments came along. Take this December 1, 2013, to do something, even if its a small, individual thing, to remember someone either already gone, or, to honor someone still here.