World AIDS Day 2014

     Yesterday (December 1st) marked yet another World AIDS Day.  I say "yet another" because in my opinion, there has been too many.  I look at the news and see no red ribbons, no stories about those of us who fight to end HIV and those of us who live with HIV and AIDS.  And I wonder when we will mark the day with celebration of the end of HIV/AIDS as we know it.  Still, I hold onto a bit of hope.
     Last evening I had the honor of speaking to a small group with my good friend and fellow speaker, Annie.  We spoke at a World AIDS Day dinner and forum at the Open Cities Health Center in St Paul.  The topic was HIV/AIDS stigma.  Annie and I reworked our usual presentation to fit the topic and we were well received.  We met some wonderful people both employees of the health center and patients there.  I was amazed at the discussion and the interesting viewpoints from those in attendance.  All in all, a nice way to spend the evening, speaking, sharing and learning.
     Yet World AIDS Day can be a depressing day for me.  I remember all of those who have lost the battle including a few good friends and others I have known.  I can't help but think of the wasted lives, the huge cost, not only financially but in heartache and sadness, that this terrible virus has brought to the world.  And it is just a stupid virus. 
     But then I can also see hope on World AIDS Day.  There are those of us who have managed to live, to hang on against all odds.  We continue to fight and some of us hope that by speaking out we will slow if not end the spread of HIV.  By speaking at schools and events, I know that I have reached people who otherwise might never hear from someone living with HIV or AIDS.  Yet there are so many more who need to hear my story. 
  There are times when I feel like quitting, when I feel that I am pounding my head against a brick wall and all I get is a bad headache.  Often it feels like I scream and no one hears me.  But then I realize that I can't speak to the whole world and I can't be responsible for those who won't listen.  And maybe, if I loosen one brick in the wall, maybe, just maybe others will follow and the wall will start to come down.  Maybe my hard head will win and maybe one day we will celebrate the end of HIV and AIDS on December 1st.  Maybe, just maybe......

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