World AIDS Day 2012 in the war to end AIDS standing in the trenches. | cliffwms44's Blog

We have seen HIV/AIDS go from epidemic to Pandemic,It was once labeled as a Gay white males disease, a disease in the span of time called by many names.  A disease that touches every dimension of the infected person's and the unimpaired's  well-being as well.  HIV/AIDS the learning experience, the virus has been a destroyer of lives and families,the widow, widower and orphan  maker.  This virus has made one live a life of denial of fear and shame, early in the epidemic folks ran up their credit bills because doctors said that they would not live more than seven years.
The advances in medical technology in medication has come to an age that we are on the cusp of a cure, I think it's time for the world to ask itself how badley do we want a cure.  When we see how this disease has touched every corner of the world except those denialist who have a different idea on AIDS and HIV those minds that believe that it could not happen to them, I was that person who thought it would never be me.  I was that person who married into HIV but, it was a small price to pay for the woman I loved.  I don't think I would have done it any differnently,because somewhere it was written already.  I remember finding out my positive status on my birthday in 2003, I remember how I lost my voice,up until I cleared my throat as I recieved the news. 
Its funny we never know what our exeeding limits are until we reach that limit.  I walked down the streets of Philadelphia in a daze,because the reality is so much different than if it happens to someone else.  I believed it would not  happen to me, I too was a victom of misinformation and myth that gave birth to stigma> that if I was not gay, I did not have to worry.                                                                                                                                                                             
I knew what a condom was, I knew about other STI's, I too carried that misinformation that a person infected had to look a certain way, skinny, drawn up so badley.  World AIDS day to me is everyday,it is a day for me to Remember my wife who has now since passed Gwendolyn  Jones- Williams,it is a day of which I know and understand that I must be thankful to the Pioneers who stood and faught with sacrifice and service fighting for my rights of which as a mentor of mines once said "Your rights have not even been written yet,because you have not been there to fight for them, to even let the law makers know it mattered to you or you even wanted them.  (John Bell) Activist/AIDS educator, (died) 2012.
So that was how when I came through the doors of Philadelphia fight being welcomed by people just like myself, the list is long of person's who have passed AIDed by the virus and some opportunistic infection or comorbidies.
History will one day ask this question on HIV/AIDS, "have we done all that we could have to end AIDS"? 
So becoming educated about a virus that was a life changing for me, a disease that impacted the world just by the lack of information people had,which vented in fear and anger.
This is why I joined the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power  (Act Up Philadelphia) after being educated, and empowered to fight for my rights to safe and secure housing, for SSI and SSD benifits on why the law makeres need to educate themselves or just even have a sit down with persons infected,children affected by HIV/AIDS.
As a father and grandfather my HIV+ status rippled through my whole family so its never just about being directly infected by HIV because there are indirect affects of stigma both inward and outward for me and my family as well.
I would like for the National AIDS Strategy to move closer to a completeness in adding a direct funding source for peer education, peer education bridges those gaps that counciling and testing can't reach,if you really want to know how you get to zero peer education is the rocket ship that will take us there.
Let me tell you on a level of when I was newly diagnosed, the only person that was able to reach through and cut through the barriers, I had put up in protecting myself.  It was a person just like me, a person infected with the virus.  I had heard them speak and it broke down the wall I guess planting a tree of life, that still grows with an empathy rich soil,never letting me forget where I came from
Now as for peer education done by a person infected speaking to an audience of unimpaired individuals sharing their story could allow a person to see how they have put themselves at risk.  We must be unafraid to open a dialogue in our Homes, Schools,Churches and Social groups.  World AIDS DAY is about the sacrifice and service, about in order for me to live,someone had to die.  So again I am truly grateful to the pioneers in the spirit of activism, they are the ones that made it possible for treatment, the price of AIDS drugs, housing and AIDS education etc.  So in handing me the torch to go on, only adding a new style of direct action using the internet as my talking drum reaching out to the impaired and unimpaired those who fight directly in the trenches miles apart but shoulder to shoulder, and the indirect soldgier fighting that same war from a different vantage point, cause the future depends upon our collective efforts to END AIDS NOW.

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