Saturday, December 01, 2012

World AIDS Day

Every year since I started this blog, I always make sure to take time out on December 1 and have a post about HIV and AIDS in honor of World AIDS Day. I have shared personal stories, and shared lists of celebrities who have contracted and/or died from HIV/AIDS. It is amazing to me that in such a short time that a positive HIV test has gone from a death sentence to something that seems inconsequential to many. It is not though. According to the United Nations, about 34 million people worldwide are living with HIV, and 2.5 million were infected last year alone. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control says there is an alarming rise in the spread of HIV among teenagers and young adults, with 1,000 new infections each month. Teens with HIV? To me that has to stop. And that is in the US. What is it like in other countries of the world, especially those with less access to medicines to control the virus? If you have never done so, I encourage you to watch the movie And The Band Played On about the very early days of the AIDS crisis. It is a powerful movie and has a great cast and was originally aired on HBO when no other network wanted to touch the movie. I encourage you to share your stories or experiences here.

48 comments:

Terri said...

I had a gay friend in college and he introduced me to this guy he was interested in. I became friends with Nick. They broke up because Nick would not have sex with my college friend. The friend discovered Nick had AIDS and dumped him immediately. A few years later we were out and I had to drive Nick home. I made sure he got into bed safely and hugged him. He broke down crying because he said no one had touched him, even for a hug, in years.

He died in 1988 and I miss him often.

Karen D.C. said...

AIDS killed one of my friends 15 years ago, at age 24. AIDS made another so sick he took his own life, at age 44.

I have two other close, brother-like friends who are HIV-positive. While it's not a death sentence anymore, they must take every little symptom of illness very seriously. It's no way to live one's life.

I don't know what else to say. Do the AIDS walks, contribute if you can't walk, or volunteer if you can't afford to contribute.

donner said...

My husband has a cousin who is married to a man with HIV. They live in DC (he gives me scoop on political gossip) and everything is fine for now. Medication is keeping him healthy and his husband (the cousin) has not tested positive. The families are supportive and so far it's all good.

B. Profane said...

I remember being in graduate school in the late 80's, doing my theatre MFA, and there was this one guy in one of my acting classes. Big old queen. Nice guy, such a dear. And we were talking notes for a scene in which he'd done some very emotional work...and in explaining his process he broke down crying. "All of my friends are dying, everyone I know is dying." AIDS was still so new that, even though I had so many gay friends, I had no sense of the epidemic. I was this big, rough breeder punk. I had no clue, but when he said that I was slammed. "All of my friends are dying."

After I got out of grad school I lived out the latter days of the And The Band Played On era in San Francisco. You could see people with Karposi's bruises on the bus every day. Miraculously, none of my gay friends were even infected.

PuggleWug said...

Terri, your story brought tears to my eyes. There is a horrible stigma to all of this, I wish people would just educate themselves more.

My father passed away, months ago. His illness was related somewhat to his HIV status. It was unexpected. In the past I had nightmares that I had HIV, and got it from him. I would wake up in cold sweats. It dawned on me, that if this is how I felt, I could not imagine what was going through his mind daily. Before he passed, I hugged and kissed him as much as possible. You were a wonderful friend to Nick, Terrify.

PuggleWug said...

^Terri, not Terrify, I hate autocorrect!^

All about Eve said...

@Terri, your story really touched me, I'm glad your friend had someone like you in his life.

I did watch that movie a while ago. I'm glad that things have gotten better but there's still work to do and I hope we don't become complacent and stop working hard to stop this disease.

Spring said...

My youngest brother, Sean, died of AIDS related PML 6 years ago. He was 36. He owned a restaurant that he kept open on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas for those who had no place to go to. He was an AA sponsor and volunteered tirelessly at the Cleveland Food Bank. He took in so many homeless people and gave them jobs and places to stay. He took in a victim of Domestic Violence and gave her and her children a safe place to stay and helped her start a house cleaning business which she built up to the point that she was able to sell it and invest in several Liquid Planet franchises. He was a favorite uncle, brother, friend and cousin and not a single day goes by that I don't think of him and miss him. His partner is HIV positive but one of those lucky few who is asymptomatic and doesn't feel he needs to tell prospective partners about his status. They were the first male couple in the state of Ohio to have a civil union. I would give anything to have my baby brother back. There are so many unfinished conversations.....on World's AIDS Day, 2012 I remember Sean Robert Donovan, he lived more in his short 36 years than many of us will in 100 years. Rest in peace dearest brother....

noseygal48 said...

@spring I am in tears. What a beautiful tribute

lisa said...

My best friend in high school, my gay best friends with benefits, contracted HIV in his early 20's. (1982) He was homosexual as well as an IV drug user. As careful as he was with condom use, at least with me, I'd venture to say the IV drug use was his contact point. No one knows, tho. I moved across the country, married my other hs sweetheart... we grew apart. I saw him twice over the next couple years. Last time was 28 years ago, when I was in town and stopped by to see if he still lived in the old neighborhood. He just happened to be heading out to his car to take off, saw me and ran to the car, stuck his head inside the window to give me a kiss and a hug and saw the baby in the backseat and beamed from ear to ear. A great memory. :) Over the years I'd wondered about him often. Searched for him online a lot. Contacted people I thought might have known him. No one knew a thing. He was going to be an architect. He lived and breathed architecture! In my mind, pictured him designing great lofts in NYC and living a wonderful life. It was just last year that I finally found his 80 year old dad retired to a state far from where we'd met. He confirmed that my long ago love had died of AIDS about 20 years ago. I'd been looking for my friend for years on the internet. Now I knew why I couldn't find him. His dad told me that I was the only woman he ever loved. I'm sure that was to make me feel better. I loved him. He's the only man other than my husband who I really loved. I often entertained the idea of the 3 of us together as the perfect couple, although my two guys tolerated each other more than they actually enjoyed each other. From what I understand, back when he was diagnosed, there was little hope. Combined with depression and drug abuse, he saw no point. He gave up his dreams. He didn't finish school. He didn't fight. He'd stopped taking meds. He died alone. I wish I had known. I would have been there to care for him. I have mourned this year...20 years late. For the loss of a friend, a lover... and I pray every day that my own boys heed my words to be safe in all their practices. It's no longer a death sentence, but it's far from a walk in the park.

ReesesPeace said...

My best male phriend in high school, Rod. I had such a mad crush on him beyond phriendship and had no clue that he was gay until he came out to me. I hadn't yet learned tact yet, so my response was, "NO! Don't you know that I've been wanting to bang your eyes out phor 3 years?!" He looked so stricken, as iph I was rejecting him. I had to reassure him that while I was telling him the truth, it didn't matter to me he was gay. We hugged and cried and laughed for a phew hours. He later told me that my warm and loving response gave him courage to come out to everybody. Not everyone was like me, though. His phather, uncle and brothers did a beatdown on him, shaved ophoph his shoulder-length blonde curls. He never ever went back home aphter that and just a phew months later, he moved to San Phrancisco. We kept in touch via letters and the odd phone call. Not sure when he got AIDS, but he told me in early '87. He committed suicide in '88. I miss him still. He would've been 50 on December 8, 4 days bephore my birthday. Miss and love you, My Rodness. =)

Such sad but lovely tributes today.

timebob said...

I hope they find a cure in our lifetime and no one will have to go through the fear and ordeal of having such a disease.

Prayers to all those affected by it and families with loved ones who are affected by this awful disease.

Del Riser said...

These stories are all so sad, as well as love filled. My uncle, who I personally detest because he molested me as a child, married a woman with three children and then he had a son of his own. He loved this boy. I believe my uncle molested his stepdaughters, nobody listened to me or them either.
His son, the light of his (miserable) life came out to his family as gay when he was a teen. My uncle promptly cut off all contact and would not let his wife see the boy either.
His stepsisters were his salvation. He died at 22 from AIDS.
I didn't attend the funeral as I stay as far away from my uncle as geography allows. I heard he "played" the grieving father to the hilt, had I been there he might have been in the grave instead. This was mid 80's.
I think love and understanding go a long way to help healing any illness, sadly too many of these folks were feared instead, or denied outright. I pray for them all.

Carmelean Karma said...

All of your stories are so beautiful, personal and moving. My heart goes out to anyone who's been affected by this horrible merciless disease. To all the beautiful bright talented people that have had their light taken away by HIV/AIDS, we miss you, we love you and we wish that you were still here with us.

Michelle said...

@Terri, so sad. I hope, as a society, we now know better than this. When I was 17, (in the late 80's), I remember being at a medical facility to treat an infectious disease in my sinuses. To explain the wait, a nurse told me, in a matter-of-fact way, that the wait was longer than usual because they had to sanitize the area from the last patient who had aids. I remember being very upset with the nurse for breeching patient confidentiality and seeming so callous.

smash said...

My boyfriend uncle has AID's, he is one of the most sweet, kind and loving person I have ever met. He has bad days but he also has really good days that he can take little hikes with his cane. I am blessed to know him and am very thankful for the doctors who have helped keep him alive and healthy.

Thank you all for sharing your stories. They are very touching. Have a wonderful Saturday everyone!

nessa said...

such a beautiful person, bless you for sharing his story with us

DCDowney said...

I have a wonderful friend who know lives in San Francisco who was diagnosed in the early 90s with HIV. I'm happy to say he's still alive, taking his meds, an continues to be one of the most awesome inspirations in my life. He calls me every year on my birthday, asks after my husband and son even though he's never met the latter. He came to my wedding in Michigan from across the country too. On the day he told me he was positive, I hugged him and every chance I've gotten to see him in the past, nearly 20 years from that day, I've given him a hug. I can't wait to see him in SF this year so I can see him and hug him again.

Sherry said...

Lisa: thank u for your beautiful story. And your husband sounds like a pretty wonderful man.

Sherry said...

I have lost several friends to AIDS. Hal, Ben. But the most heartbreaking was my uncle Mitchell St. John. He lost his lover and loads of friends as he was right at the beginning of the crisis as an actor in NYC helping in Act Up. I left to move to san Francisco and he died a few months later. His joy was Christmas and he was known as the Elf. He decorated office bldgs for the holidays. He loved it and lived for it. When I went to visit him that Christmas he was so thin and frail and he broke down and cried to me. He told me he thought everyone died to get away from him. I just held him and said if they had a choice they would rather be here with him.

I have had psychics tell me he's my guardian angel. God I loved that man. I miss him every day.

Sherry said...

Thank you Reeces. That story and everyone elses echos mine. The stupid loss due to so much prejudice. How many of our loved ones could have been saved searching for a cure while they were saying it was God's punishment just makes me so angry sometimes.

B. Profane said...

Wow, Sherry, I'd almost guess that your uncle was my friend from grad school, except that I'm pretty sure his name was not Mitchell. My classmate was a professional Christmas tree decorator.

Yes, there is such a thing as a professional Christmas tree decorator. That was literally his year-round job.

ReesesPeace said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sherry said...

Yes BProfane. It was a good portion of his year augmented with extra work and catering. He would always treat himself to a trip somewhere in the world after the breakdown of the trees were done as well as some time on Fire Island in the summer before the season kicked in. I was actually hoping that including his name that by some odd chance, a reader here would know him. What I wouldn't give to connect and hear "Mitchell Stories". Anything to keep his memory alive. Sigh.

B. Profane said...

Wait, what did your uncle look like? There cannot have been that many actors in NYC who were also professional holiday decorators. Did your uncle have an MFA?

E Gee Be said...

These stories are so moving, thank you to all of you and love peace and health to all who are living with this today.

smash said...

Love and hugs Reese's. thank you for sharing.

goes in circles said...

Thank you for sharing your stories.

smash said...

B. Profane - it is nice to see you commenting again!

Sherry said...

BProfane: I do not think uncle Mitch had an MFA although he was deserved of such accolades in my mind. He was an actor first. And he was the only blue blond in my dad's family. Everyone else was blak Irish. I'm red green.

parissucksliterally said...

GREAT movie, and even better book. I own "And The Band Played On", and have read it many time.

it took forever said...

Some of these memories brought me to tears.

car54 said...

I too have a degree in theatre and designed costumes for a number of years--lost a good friend Jerry--a very talented and funny actor, director, and choreographer to this terrible disease.

He was handsome, funny and I miss him a lot to this day.

fancyscreenname said...

My cousin Ben died of aids when the epidemic was in full throttle. Miss him. He was a stereotypical effeminate gay full of fun, jokes, creativity, shopping and girly shit. I often wish he'd been able to survive long enough to take the more sophisticated drugs we have today. Perhaps he would still b around.

someonelikeyou said...

My sweet, funny baby brother died in 1996 the day before he would have turned 27. I had flown to be with him for his birthday. My dad picked me up at the airport and told me he had suddenly gotten very sick and was in the hospital. He was doing OK on a Friday, and dying on Saturday. I held his hand, and spoke with him, and laughed and cried as he left this world. Along with the later births of my children, it was one of the most beautiful and moving things I ever experienced. I believe I was supposed to be with Matt as he died. The timing was all so strange, and I believe it wasn't an accident. Thank you for recognizing World AIDS Day. The last thing I told my brother was that I would name my first-born after him. Today my 14-year-old son - Matt's namesake, as well as my other children, my husband and myself remember him, and mourn the loss of a terrific brother, and the fabulous uncle he would have been to my children. Missing you Matt.

Christopher Cruz said...

You guys... Such beautiful stories... I wish there COULD be a cure in our lifetime.

Jennmcn said...

Thank you everyone for sharing your stories.

My mother's college friend's two sons were both hemophiliacs and two of the first to contract HIV from blood transfusions. They both died of AIDS before 30 and one of their girlfriends did too. They were beautiful people.

My best friend Mike, who was the funniest, brightest and most full of life people I have ever know died from AIDS in 1994 just before Christmas. Christmas was his favorite holiday; he'd decorate the whole house inside and out. He used to put so many lights on the house, you could see it blocks away. He was the "maid of honor" at my first wedding. It was so funny that we were so a like; we smoked the same cigarettes, drank the same drink, had the same taste in men... It was so sad to watch him waste away with a shunt in his heart and in so much pain. It broke my heart.

I miss him every single day and still think "Wow, I have to tell Mike about this; he'll laugh his ass off."

Della said...

Mr. Parker this goes out to you. Funny teacher and later in life a great neighbor/friend. You are thought of often.

Dolly72 said...

My favorite movie that deals with the issue of AIDS is Go Toward the LIght. It shows the other side of the coin, someone who does not get infected for lifestyle reasons. So sad... I bawled, but it was very well done.

csproat said...

My best friend is positive.....when he told me, he said his doctor told him that he would die of a heart attack, or cancer long befor the virus would kill him....

I was never so happy to hear that someone would die of cancer in my life.....

NYer said...

RIP Paulie...thinking of you.

Tatyana said...

And now you can all go to despising people with different forms of herpes.

fancyscreenname said...

@tatyana.....I am confused by your comment and really wannna know what u mean.

PuggleWug said...

Who is despised for having herpes?

redronnie said...

I believe Tatyana is referring to posts mocking or alleging certain individuals have herpes. Herpes is not AIDs, but it has a stigma of sexual deviance. Its estimated 45 million Americans have genital herpes.
as for AIDs, my mother was know as the condom granny, before all the facts were known my little mom was volunteering and educating on what was known about AIDs, she had a purse full of condoms and fact sheets. Our local television news did a story on world AIDs day and they interviewed advocates one said he was inspired to get involved by a grandmother who talked with love and compassion and carried a purse filled with condoms.

PuggleWug said...

Red, I agree. Herpes does have a stigma, much like AIDS. Both are diseases that should not be mocked. Rather than being hateful or just ignorant, one should learn to be more understanding towards people with these diseases. Educating oneself on this helps!

jax said...

I lost my older brother Kevin in 97 from HIV complicated Hep C and heroin abuse.

Miss you everyday. Every.Day.

My other older brother has been living with HIV for over 20 years. He is happy,healthy and living in Europe getting the best care possible with his partner.

Get tested. Stay safe. Don't share needles.

PuggleWug said...

So sorry to hear, Jax. After my dad died, I realized how hard it is to deal with such a major loss. For me, it's only been about six months, so it is still a struggle. In person, I have never met people who have lost a loved one from HIV/AIDS, other than my family. It's nice to see there others who have dealt with something similar, who understand.