My video message on the 30th Anniversary of the AIDS epidemic
In 1981 I was 5 years old.....
1981 was a happy tine in my life. I was 5 years old, and my favorite toys were my pound puppy, glo worm, and my new bike. This was also the year I started kindergarten, and I still remember my kindergarten teacher Ms. Cambell and learning my ABC’s via the “Animal People”.
This was also the year I learned to swim, and my Dad taught me how to ride a bike without training wheels. I would play my Atari and Coleco Vision all day, I loved those games frogger and donky kong! I had one of the hottest hot wheels around, and a huge collection of Garbage Pail Kids and match box cars. I remember my glo worm, pound puppy, and numerous sticker books.
I would play and watch TV all day. I couldn’t get enough of Tom and Jerry, Sesame St, and Mr Rogers. When it was not my turn to watch TV I would watch MASH with my Father and General Hospital with my Mom – I remember the ever famous Luke and Laura wedding on General Hospital.
I looked forward to sleep overs at my cousins on the weekends, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, MJ on MTV, Saturday morning bowling with my Mom and Dad, and nearly daily shopping trips to the mall with my Mother.
As a child growing up in the 80’s I was definitely the epitome of a Toy’s R Us Kid. I was oblivious to what was happening in the big World around me. Aren’t we all at that age? My Parent’s did a good job at shielding me from all the sorrow and negativity that was going on in the World. All the while, my parents, hoping my future would only know joy and happiness.As I was turning 5 and continued growing up in the 80’s; AIDS began to rear its ugly head and spread with vengeance. By the beginning of July 1982 a total of 452 cases, from 23 states, had been reported to the CDC, and then the disease began spreading Worldwide. Much of the 80’s was spent figuring out this disease and how best to treat it.
In the 90’s came the dreaded AZT treatments. By January 1st 1995, a cumulative total of a million cases of AIDS had been reported to the World Health Organization Global Programme on AIDS. Eighteen million adults and 1.5 million children were estimated to have been infected with HIV since the beginning of the epidemic.
Later in the month the CDC announced that in the US, AIDS had become the leading cause of death amongst all Americans aged 25 to 44.
28 years later the disease is still rearing its ugly head with approximately 56,000 Americans becoming infected with HIV each year. Through 2007, more than 576,000 people with AIDS in the US have died since the epidemic began. Globally since the first cases of AIDS were reported in 1981, infection of HIV has grown to pandemic proportions, resulting in an estimated 65 million infections and 25 million deaths. During 2005 alone, an estimated 2.8 million persons died from AIDS, 4.1 million were newly infected with HIV, and 38.6 million were living with HIV.
With the advent of new drugs scientists have been able to suppress new infections to a point where the disease becomes undetectable. And Scientists have been able to identify reservoirs in our bodies where latent HIV hides and where current medicine cannot get at.
Researchers throughout the World but particularly right here in the United States are working tirelessly to finally eradicate this illness. Never have we been as close to a cure as we are now. In an e mail communication with Dr David Margolis; within the next few years studies will be rolling out in Chapel hill, NC that will be the next step towards the cure.
Until we get to that cure; those of us infected or affected by HIV/AIDS across the World must keep fighting, not just for our livelihood, but for upcoming generations to come. Keep advocating, keep educating yourself and the public, volunteer, keep on top of your health, and donate if you can to Amfar.org. They have been at the forefront of this epidemic since the beginning.
On this the 30th anniversary of the epidemic we are at a perilous time in the history of HIV/AIDS. Because of budget cuts across the country, people in many states are being placed on waiting lists to receive lifesaving medications. People are even facing the possibility of their drug benefit being cut off completely. People are worried. My fear is we will begin to see a flashback to the 80’s. People dying, but this time, not because of we have no drugs to treat the disease, but because we don’t have the funding to do so. We must also begin to call out these drug companies that charge absorbent amounts of money for HIV medications, simply because they hold the paten. These reasons which prevent people from obtaining lifesaving and life sustaining medicine is simply unacceptable.
In closing, I have two wishes. My first wish is that my mother gets the lung transplant she so desperately needs. Mom you have hung in there for so long, I love you so much and I am glad that you have made it to another year with hopes for many more to come.
My other wish is that we will get closer to finding a cure for HIV/AIDS and that these acronyms will soon be written into history. Until we get to that cure we must make sure everyone living with HIV/AIDS has equal access to care.
Today; to those survivors who have lived with the illness longer than I and particularly those who have lived with the virus 20 + years – I stand in line behind you when the cure arrives, and I now stand with you.
LETS KEEP THE HOPE ALIVE THAT ONE DAY WE WILL LIVE IN A WORLD FREE OF HIV/AIDS
Sometimes I wish, just for a day, that I was 5 again.
May you only know happiness, prosperity and good health in the years ahead?
Take care, be well my friends.
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