Growing Up With AIDS

I don’t have HIV/AIDS, but I was a child during the early days of the epidemic. When I was around 6 years old, this was not a major issue for me. Not having Lego Blocks and He-Man Action Figures, major issues. I do however remember a lot of what was going on in the Adult World. Listening to grown-ups and the media, I learned AIDS was a gay disease. Gay Cancer, I remember that name. Wait, right, it was a something you got from Haitians. Oh, wait, right, you had to be a drug user. This was not a disease of the rich or heterosexual. If you knew someone who was infected, you weren’t safe. You could get AIDS if you sat on the toilet after them, or use the same cup. You certainly couldn’t breathe the same air. They where skinny gay men who coughed a lot or malnourished looking Haitians who coughed a lot or dirty looking drug users who coughed a lot. These people were doomed to an early death, maybe within two to three years. Who would believe a healthy looking, well to do person could have AIDS? Nobody… That is until Rock Hudson. One of Hollywood’s greatest leading men had AIDS. AIDS touched Hollywood and it was no longer a disease of the poor, the gay, and the drug user. The next high-profile I can remember contracting AIDS was Arthur Ashe. He got it from a blood transfusion. By the time I was about 11, AIDS had become a scary monster, a death sentence. Almost 30 years later, I know better. HIV/AIDS is not something anybody wants but the truth is that it is still a major issue. 33 million plus people are living with this disease worldwide. All of the things I knew about AIDS as a child in the 80’s have been disproven. There are treatments available presently, but no known cure. Today, people with HIV/AIDS are living longer, full lives. They are rich, poor, gay, all races, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandparents, wives and husbands. They are not that much different from you or me. I am grateful that AIDS is no longer considered a death sentence. Still, HIV/AIDS is a disease that we must work to eradicate. One of the best ways to work at this is to be informed. Educate yourself and others on HIV/AIDS and way to prevent it from spreading. It is equally important that you Know Your Status. There is no shame in getting tested. There are places that offer free confidential testing around the country. Practice safe sex, get tested, and help eradicate AIDS.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s