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The world keeps spinning…World Aids Day 2017

Every year at this time I do a post about World Aids Day. Why? Because I feel like it’s important to remind people that this epidemic hasn’t gone away and even though things are getting better, there’s still a lot of fighting left to do.

I remember becoming aware of HIV and Aids a long time ago, watching on the news as it became apparent that this new disease so many people were calling “gay cancer” was something that could…and would affect everyone. And I was horrified by the fact that so many governments seemed so unconcerned about doing something to help stop it.

I haven’t always been an advocate of equality. When I was younger I was so caught up in my own life, so sure in my immortality back then, that most of the time, the goings on in the world around me barely registered with me.

But as I got older, I grew to understand that the people I shared the world with did have an effect on me and my life and that by at least trying to make things better for them, I was making the world a better place for me.

So, I could spout statistics here, tell you about the millions of people around the world who are still contracting HIV and dying from its effects. I could tell you about the treatments that are helping people live better lives, treatments that when followed properly will leave someone HIV virtually undetectable. I could tell you about all the amazing people in so many different countries who are working together to hopefully and finally find a cure for this virus that has taken so many lives. I could tell you that there are drugs you can take that will help protect you from becoming HIV positive.

But I won’t. If you’re interested, you will look that information up for yourselves. All the soapboxing I can do here will not make you care if you don’t already. I’ll include some links at the end of this post to help you along if you care to learn more.

What I am going to do it to continue trying my best to help where I can. I’m looking for new opportunities in 2018. I’ll be doing the AIDS Walk in Edmonton again and this year I’m hoping my daughter will join me. My kid has so much heart and spirit and it makes me proud that she is so much more aware of what’s going on in the world around her than I ever was at her age.

We will go to Pride together again in 2018, doing our best to support a community that so many people we care about belong to. We always meet the most interesting people there and it’s one of the ways we find opportunities to give back.

And I truly hope every year when I write this post, that someday I will be writing about how the cure was finally found. That is my dearest wish for the people I know who are HIV positive and for everyone who is living with, or will be living with this disease.

Here’s those links I told you about.

The link to CATIE in Canada: http://www.catie.ca/en/world-aids-day

World Health Organization information: http://www.who.int/entity/campaigns/aids-day/en/

Canadian Aids Society: http://www.cdnaids.ca/

United Nations: http://www.un.org/en/events/aidsday/index.shtml

Please take the time to investigate the options in your own country, where you want to help, or you need help.

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Filed under AIDS Walk Edmonton, Monday Raves, Pride, World Aids Day

World AID’s Day and in case you didn’t realize, it’s still an issue.

So, here I am again, another year later, trying to figure out what to write that’s different…that will make people pay attention to something that I’m still not sure why it’s so important to me.

I mean, it should be important to everyone. Finding a cure, helping those already infected and figuring out how to educate people so that new infections slow and finally stop…that should be a priority for everyone who considers themselves to be a decent human being. This is a disease that doesn’t discriminate. If you aren’t safe, if you don’t take every precaution, you are at risk. It doesn’t care who you are, if you are straight or a member of the LGTBQ community. It’s doesn’t care about gender or race or monetary status. If you share needles, if you don’t use a condom, if you don’t take the available medications, if you don’t get tested so that you know your status then you are taking your life into your hands. And the lives of anyone you are making a part of these at-risk activities.

For a long time, my interest and concern was more global than personal. I didn’t know anyone who was HIV positive but I do now. Friends I talk to almost every day and so now my heart is invested and maybe that’s more than enough reason to speak my bit whenever I get a chance. So here’s a link to a place that will help you find help in your Canadian community, but of course a quick Google search will find you help in just about any country in the world.

You want a few statistics? 37 million people are HIV positive world-wide. Almost 2 million of those are children under 15 who were most likely infected in the womb, during childbirth or from breastfeeding. Most people who are HIV positive come from low to middle-income countries, particularly in the third world. Only about 60% of people who are HIV positive know their status. That means there are a whopping 14 million people out there who don’t have a clue and that’s more than a little scary.

Another happier statistic? There are about 18 million people who are accessing antiretroviral therapy drugs that will hopefully give them a chance at a better life.

I don’t claim to be an expert on anything, especially on HIV and it’s treatment or prevention. But I know that studies are showing that PrEP and Pep are saving people’s lives and I know that it’s a step in the right direction.

I know that there are a lot of people out there who will help you if you are looking to stay negative and there’s a lot who will help you if you are HIV positive. But you have to look for that help so please, do what’s best for you and get whatever help it is that you need.

I could post a lot of links but each country has its own resources and I think if you are reading this post, you know how to use a computer enough to go looking.

The last thing I know is that if you are HIV positive, I am your friend, your advocate and your shoulder to cry on. I would hug the stuffing out of you if I met you and would love to sit down and hear your story.

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It’s World AIDS Day Once Again.

So, I looked back on my post from last year on this day. Not much has changed, I’m even working on the same story, although its almost done now.

I tried to explain to someone today why I feel the need to write about this issue and I had a hard time finding the words. I think back to the 80’s when the epidemic seemed to sweep through the western world like a brush fire. It was everywhere, on the news, in the papers but the first time I heard of it, it was being called “gay cancer”. I was horrified by the term and something told me that it wasn’t right, but I was too young and foolish to go looking for the proper answers.

I was stupid back then. I wasn’t always safe. I was convinced in my early 20’s that no one I knew or could possibly meet would ever be infected. I didn’t hang out with IV drug users and to my knowledge, I’d never actually met anyone who was gay. I was living with a false sense of security that makes me cringe with embarrassment when I think about it. I was on the pill so I didn’t need to worry about being pregnant, right? Sigh, like I said, stupid.

If my daughter were to behave like that, I would beat her over the head with medical books until she realized the error of her ways. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with hoping that she will learn from my mistakes. I showed her pictures of the AIDS Quilt Memorial today for the first time. She was shocked at how big it was and once she realized what it was, she got a little teary-eyed. She also love the idea of the quilt and thought it was an amazing way to remember someone you loved and lost to this terrible disease. If you’ve never seen it, check it out here!

I remember seeing the Ryan White story back in 1989 and thinking that if only the governments of the world had moved sooner and taken the precautions that were necessary, then maybe that little boy wouldn’t have gotten sick. So many people died because of the fear and arrogance of government officials who decided that a disease seemed to target gay men wasn’t something they needed to worry about. You can read more about Ryan’s story here.

I didn’t realize how bad it was until “And the Band Played On” came out in 1993. It was based on a book by Randy Shilts and as I watched it, I grew horrified at how the gay community had been treated and how all the trusted institutions allowed it to run rampant. People were scared…too scared to talk, so many gay men still in hiding from the discrimination they faced on a daily basis. So the disease kept spreading because it’s hard to help people who haven’t yet figure out how to help themselves. I recommend this movie to anyone who wasn’t around to see the way this whole thing unfolded. You can find the book here and the movie is available on Amazon as well.

The good thing about HIV now, is that it’s not the death sentence it used to be. First of all, it’s preventable. PReP is a medication that seems to be stopping the transmission of the disease and while it’s not a cure, it’s a great start. You can find more information about it here.

And there is Antiretroviral therapy (ART) for people who are already infected. By taking their meds and living a healthy lifestyle, people who are HIV positive are living almost normal life-spans. There are many who think that a cure is not only possible, but probable and coming a lot sooner than most people think. I hope they are right.

Unfortunately, the stigma that is attached to being HIV+ is still going strong and I’m amazed at the misinformation that people still have in this day and age. You can’t get infected by hugging or kissing or touching and I can promise you, that you’ve probably met someone who is HIV positive and you don’t even know it.

So, go and check out the World Aids Day site and get informed here. Because I’m Canadian, I’m spreading the word in my own country and so you crazy Canuks can check out this site.

And for everyone’s sake, get tested….knowing your status is the most important first move you can make. Something like 60 percent of the people in the world who are HIV positive have no idea. That means they aren’t getting the treatment they need and they are spreading the disease unknowingly. Scary thought isn’t it?

I guess I still didn’t find the words to explain WHY this is so important to me. I wish I knew. I just know that for a very long time, it’s something that caught my attention and I want to do anything I can to spread the word about HIV awareness and to help end the stigma attached to it. I’ve always been known for sticking my nose into things, so maybe this is a good way for me to use that “unique” skill set that I have.

And I guess I care because people are still dying and it’s something we all should care about.

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Filed under This is important., World Aids Day