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December 1st, 2007

World AIDS Day

World AIDS Campaign

From Avert’s site:

“According to UNAIDS estimates, there are now 33.2 million people living with HIV, including 2.5 million children. During 2007 some 2.5 million people became newly infected with the virus. Around half of all people who become infected with HIV do so before they are 25 and are killed by AIDS before they are 35.

Around 95% of people with HIV/AIDS live in developing nations. But HIV today is a threat to men, women and children on all continents around the world.

Started on 1st December 1988, World AIDS Day is not just about raising money, but also about increasing awareness, fighting prejudice and improving education. World AIDS Day is important in reminding people that HIV has not gone away, and that there are many things still to be done.”

Additional information can be found at World AIDS Campaign.

I had an uncle die of AIDS. It happened in the early eighties. Back then it was thought to be a “gay disease”. My uncle was gay and there were whispers that his homosexuality was the reason he got sick.

My memories of my uncle are happy ones. I remember visiting his house with my parents. As a little girl I just thought he had a lot of guy friends as roommates. I probably met his lover though I didn’t know it at the time. He traveled a lot, mostly overseas. His tales of Egypt fascinated me as did the foreign coins he would give me when he came back from his many adventures.

I never saw him sick. He was a happy man, always smiling. And then he was gone, sick in the hospital.

With AIDS sadly being so widespread now it’s hard to imagine a time when it was just starting to become a problem. But many people didn’t even know how it was spread. My mother was convinced it was contagious and could be caught like the flu.

She refused my request to see him in the hospital. My aunt brought my niece to see him. My mother was upset by this and I wasn’t allowed to see my aunt or niece for awhile until it was obvious they hadn’t caught “the AIDS”. People didn’t call it HIV back then. I remember hearing adults call it “the AIDS”.

My father went to his brother’s funeral. My mother stayed home with me. She was adamant that I not be allowed to attend. Why I’m not sure. Whether she didn’t want me seeing “those gay men who might have the AIDS” or whether she wanted to shield me from death I can’t say; though I suspect the former.

Years later I took part in an AIDS Walk that was taking place in a major city nearby my hometown. I was in high school and organized a fundraiser with some friends. People sponsored us to participant in the AIDS Walk. The AIDS Quilt was showing there. There were so many quilts laid out on the grass, it seemed like thousands. My little group of friends walked around looking at them. Suddenly I stopped in my tracks-I had just walked by a quilt bearing the first name of my uncle. I stared at it. Could it be his? The quilt was decorated lovingly but offered me little clues. There was an earth on the quilt and other designs alluding to travel. Most of the decorations held no meaning to me. Since I was just a little girl there was so much about my uncle that I never knew. But there was one vital clue. He had an uncommon first name. Decades later I’ve only met one other person that shared his name.

Seeing that rare name on the quilt made me feel that it was his quilt. Someone who cared and loved him made it to honor his life. A lover? Another family member? A friend? I don’t know but I’m thankful that of all the quilts laid out that day that I was fortunate to walk by that one.

Posted by Vixen in Musings, News

This entry was posted on Saturday, December 1st, 2007 at 10:21 pm and is filed under Musings, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “World AIDS Day”

  1. Will says:

    Dear Vixen:
    This was so moving, and powerful a statement.
    You’ve done honor to all those who have had their lives turned upside down. Awareness, tolerance, and love..only love, shall heal us all.

    Your Uncle was a very special person.
    Blessings, to you.


  2. Vixen says:

    Will-Thank you so much. That may be one of the best comments left on my blog. xoxo

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