Tuesday, December 1, 2009

World AIDS Day: December 1st, 2009

Every December 1st, for about 20 years now, I spend the day reminiscing about my Uncle. His name was Christopher but when I was little, I couldn’t get the whole name out so I just called him ‘Chrissy’ and the name stuck with him.
He always said he hated being called 'Uncle Chrissy' but deep down, I think he liked it.

Even though he was my Uncle, we were only ten years apart (technically, he was my first cousin but that’s a story for another day) so he felt more like a Brother to me.
For 15 years, he was a huge, influential part of my life. He was so cool and popular and all I wanted to do was be near him--that's all anyone wanted to do.
We spent endless hours together, playing cards (Crazy Eights—he always won), shopping, watching MTV and just being plain silly. I could always be silly with him and I cherished every second I had with him.

On September 15, 1989, he died of AIDS. He was 25 years old.

He’s been gone 20 years now but it’s still not easy to write about him—it’s even harder to talk about him. I usually choke on tears before his name is barely out of my mouth.

I used to cry and cry over him, almost every day but especially this day—I was filled with anger for a very long time. When you watch someone you adore slowly die, you question everything, especially God.
You just feel hate for the disease, the world......life.
The truth is, it still hurts like hell and I’m still mad at the disease but time has eased the anger I had towards life, in general.
I'm hoping time will eventually dry the tears.

About 10 years ago, I figured I should channel all that anger into something positive like volunteering and trying my best to donate what I can to the fight against AIDS.
Now, instead of crying, feeling terrible about what I don’t have, I think about how tough he was even when he was so sick. I think about how much courage it took for him to go to work each day, knowing the ignorance and hate he was going to encounter. I think about all those impoverished people in Africa that can’t afford to ease their children's suffering from the disease. Most of all, I think about how lucky I am that I’m healthy.
For without our health, we have nothing.

On this day, I like to take time to read up on all the current news about the fight against AIDS and all the amazing steps we’ve made on the road to finding a cure.
This day shouldn’t be just a memorial for those we’ve lost, it should be a day to educate ourselves on the disease and to spread the word: Prevention is our best defense.


Some current facts about HIV/AIDS:

· AIDS is a pandemic
· 275,000 children died of AIDS in 2008
· 66% of people living with AIDS are in Sub-Saharan Africa
· 75% of deaths occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa
· As of 2008, there are 33.4 million people living with HIV
· Currently, there is a $10 billion shortfall each year in the fight against AIDS. Funding is being cut all over the world but people like Donald Rumsfeld are getting rich from the Tamiflu vaccine—a fucking crock. Question: If the majority of people living with AIDS were white, would there still be this many deaths? Fact: The world doesn’t care enough about Africa to help fix the problem
· There are 40,000 new cases of HIV each year in the United States alone
· A pregnant woman can pass on the disease to her child
· Two million children under the age of 15 are living with HIV
· 1 in 5 people don’t know they have the disease--it can sometimes take up to 10 years to see any symptoms
· There is no vaccine or cure for HIV/AIDS


Another thing I do every Decemeber 1st? I make a wish that I live to see the day when we find a cure.



If you want to get involved in the fight against AIDS or learn more about the disease, visit:

http://www.worldaidscampaign.org/

If you're able to and would like to make a donation today, visit the Casey House website:

www.caseyhouse.com/

Casey House was founded in 1988 and was the first hospice in Canada for people living with HIV/AIDS. There is no cost to clients--Casey House relies mostly on donations as the government will only fund basic care.

My Uncle stayed here for a short time while he lived with the disease. It's an incredible place filled with acceptance, compassion and kindness: three important things a person living with HIV/AIDS needs to fight for survival.



2 comments:

quillfeather said...

Now, this is why I love your blog so much. You touch on sensitive topics that should be discussed more often.

I also knew someone who died of Aids. It touched my heart so deeply I rarely speak of it. He was infected through a blood transfusion after a motorbike accident. Tragic.

Good post.

The Uneasy Writer said...

Losing someone in a tragic accident is one thing, watching someone die is entirely different.
It changes your life.
That's why I think it's so hard for us to speak of them.
Thanks for reading!
xo