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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Seeing Red

My thoughts turn to this singular statistic on December 1: a thousand babies are born with HIV every day. (See for the 2015 Quilt Project by (Red).)

(Photo courtesy of

And with these thoughts, I also think of how we could have prevented the spread of this disease with education. Scientific, factual, medical, accurate information. How can we even hope to stem the tide of these HIV cases if we choose to surround ourselves with hysteria and arm ourselves with rumors about what this disease is, how it is transmitted, and what can be done to arrest its' further spreading?

It has been decades since the HIV/AIDS virus first came into our collective consciousness. I remember discussing this in 2nd or 3rd grade class in vague terms, and the only detail that still resonates and stands out is that actor Rock Hudson was afflicted with it, and the unsaid (but thoroughly implied) thinking was that he got it "because he's gay." If memory serves me correctly, it was initially called GRIDS and not AIDS, the GR standing for "Gay-Related".

And, viewing it against the backdrop of the RH Bill discussions, it is time we put our foot down. Time to move past religious bickering - a painful fact in this country that truly weighs all of us down. Knowledge - the kind that saves physical, actual lives - is beyond personal beliefs and spiritual persuasions. Science is getting there (See, with links to details of how a man has "cautiously" been called "cured" of HIV with stem cell transplant.) Unfortunately, our attitudes towards it is a disservice to the strides that the medical/scientific community has been making in combating and defeating this disease.

HIV/AIDS is not a "bad person's" disease. (Line taken from Blanche from The Golden Girls.)

It is not something that only afflicts "degenerates".

We can prevent its spread if we know the facts about it.

Demonizing this disease is passing judgement, and in the fight for life, it should have no place in the struggle. Either you have it or you don't, period.

Here are the facts from WHO: More than half the adults afflicted are women, which should lay to rest the bogus propaganda that "only gay men have it." There are more than 3 million children (age 15 and below) who have it. And last year (2010), there were 2.7 million people newly infected with HIV.

Growing up in the time of HIV/AIDS means making sure that safe sex is part of the discussion for every couple. A mighty feat, daunting even, given how our society has essentially made sex "dirty". It is when people are prohibited from talking about it that misconceptions arise - I remember reading a post of a woman saying that her birth control method was to stand up right after sex with her husband so that the "sperm won't swim upwards." With notions like this, it is no wonder new HIV infections are in the millions.

If I asked you to stop thinking about lechon, I'll bet it will be the thing that you can't stop thinking about. By telling people to "not talk about sex", you (you know who you are) are cultivating an environment hospitable to ignorance and erroneous "facts".

December 1 is World AIDS Day. Remember those who have left us, and fight for those still with us so that we will have a future where this disease will be a memory.

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