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j. brotherlove

You've asked an interesting and difficult question to answer, at least for me. People tend not to concern themselves with disease unless they are directly connected to someone suffering or a feeling of community becomes involved.

There are so many ills in the world. Who can pay attention to them all? The cause of the moment is breast cancer (can we get a cure already?), testicular cancer is also in vogue. This is how America works; pushed by the media to respond to its chosen cause célèbre with rubber pastel bracelets.

But people are still suffering and dying; especially my people.

The obstacle facing HIV and AIDS activism is the disease's ties to behavior. With the majority of Americans believing homosexuality and drug use are nasty habits almost justifying HIV/AIDS, how do we maintain compassion and lessen judgment? Even attendance at Atlanta's annual AIDS Walk has declined.

However, as a black man who has sex with other black men, and lives in a large metropolitan city, the politics of HIV/AIDS prevention, negotiation, and education is impossible to avoid.

I'll have more to share Thursday on World AIDS Day, as will many others.

Bill Gardner

Besides the excellent points made by J. Brotherlove, what happened was HAART (Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy). It doesn't cure AIDS, but if it works -- and you can afford it, and you can manage the pill schedule -- it can give you many good years. So even some HIV+ people started telling themselves that AIDS was over. However, only a small percent of the HIV+ people in the world are likely to receive these medications.

chalip

Hmmm... I guess that just about covers it. J... I really do see what you're pointing to when you talk about how the disease tends to be tied to behavior. I've seen distinctions in how people are treated based on how they contracted the disease... Blood transfusion? Compassionate response. Gay man? Drug user? You got what was coming to you. This kind of thinking frustrates me beyond belief.

Bill, you make a valid point as well... I just think HAART is a solution... not the solution.

Thanks for sharing...

Tom

Anita Creamer's column for Nov 30 in the Sacramento Bee was titled "As much as we ignore it, HIV still here."

Here are some excerpts:

"More than half of new HIV cases in this country are in people under the age of 25," says Paul Curtis, a board member at Sacramento's Center for AIDS Research and Education and Services (CARES). "That's the most alarming thing right now."

But it's not the only cause for alarm. AIDS has increasingly become an issue in America's straight and minority communities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gay and bisexual men now represent less than half of the nation's AIDS cases. What's more, almost one-third of HIV infections are the result of heterosexual contact.

And the incidence of AIDS is soaring in the African American community. For example, Sacramento County public health statistics indicate that African Americans represent more than 28 percent of local AIDS cases while making up only 11 percent of the population.

Among African American women who are HIV-positive, says the CDC, 75 percent were exposed by the men in their lives, as were 61 percent of all infected women.

Maybe Americans have been lulled into a sense of denial. Most stories now focus on the spread of AIDS in the developing world. Here, we think that public awareness campaigns from the '90s somehow inoculated our young people against vulnerability. In a society convinced that there's a pill for everything, we consider that AIDS has become a manageable disease with an effective drug regimen.

Friendly Dragon

I went to see Rent today, touched by its dharmic message about living fully in Nowness, saying YES, celebrating life. Challenged lots of stereotypes. We tend to 'demonize' disease want to 'cure' aids, cancer - whatever by 'doing battle' with them. Is it not a vain aspiration to believe we can fix samsara? Old age, sickness and death are natural phenomena. The cause of death is birth. We all die. So what is it that being Unborn therefore does not die? How truly connect with what transcends hope and fear? Rent has a positive message about how ordinary people awaken and inspire others to discovery of this truth, hidden in plain sight. I was grieving the recent loss of my best friend, only daughter, whose grace in passing released a rain of blessings. I could say that she 'lived' with cancer, embraced it, was active until the last two weeks of her life. Accepted death. The tributes of her friends in celebrating her life were not unlike those offered in the film to 'Angel.' Her passion, creativity, humor, courage, consideration for others, ability to take responsibility for the world. It is not her world, my world, or your world - it is THE world. Sacred world. The secret password pin - whatever - is absence of struggle
i.e PEACE.

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