Saturday, December 1, 2012

World AIDS Day 2012

December 1 is World AIDS Day.  I never knew a world without HIV/AIDS, i was born in 1983.  Some of the first people i knew were lost to AIDS.  I have only vague memories of Harry and of Rick, but i know they were there for a time.  And then not anymore.  I've known others since then, others who have had positive diagnoses and others who have had "scares."  I remember what it was like pre-HAART and how scary it was back then.  I don't know if a lot of younger people do understand the gravity we knew then.

Somehow or other, this has become the focus of my education and future career in social work.  Right now i'm concentrating my education in community-level research on HIV prevention.  It's a natural fit, really.  I'm a writer, a bookish person, and though i think i could do direct practice (counseling, etc) well enough, i don't think it's quite my calling.  I have always cared deeply about HIV/AIDS awareness, though, and this is a way i can do something on a broad scale.  I love the work i do and knowing that i can have an impact through my skills.

Of course, my other career is writing.  A few weeks ago i signed the contract for my first full-length novel.  Haven't even gotten into edits yet, so i don't want to be giving away too much (but there's a projected release date of Spring 2013 - April or May).  What i can tell you, though, is that this one is quite different from Possession, but maybe no less scary.

Read on for more....

Sins of Another is about a young man, Padrig, who becomes HIV positive in a violent circumstance and faces a long road to regaining balance in his life.  Through it all, though, he never loses hope, no matter how slight it may be at times.  Sins features a number of other poz characters who are unique and diverse in their experiences with HIV.  One character was infected in a similar situation to Padrig but has a very different reaction and approach to his diagnosis.  Another intentionally sought positive partners (bug-chasing), but now regards his health as paramount.

All in all, Sins is about living positively when positive, and that can mean very different things to different people.  It's a deeply sad story in some places and can be quite dark, but it's also a story of hope and a love story at heart.

More on Sins throughout the process, but to get back to AIDS Day.  While we remember those lost and those who are struggling, the best thing to remember is that we can do something.  With a disease like HIV, awareness and prevention are in our grasp.  We all need to do what we can to make awareness and prevention a priority - there are a lot of people who are misinformed about how HIV is spread and A LOT who aren't getting tested.  Stat from - 20% of persons living with HIV in the US don't know they're infected (that's around 200,000).  One of the top reasons people don't get tested is that they believe they aren't at risk.  Ok, even if you think you aren't - get tested anyway, please.  It's quick and painless these days, you can get an oral swab test with results in 20 minutes.  Check around.  Testing is usually free too.

So don't just remember and wear a red ribbon, do something too.  Even if you think it's just for yourself, every person tested makes a difference - trust me on this!  And then advocate, because we can all do that too.  Get the word out, tell your legislators to fund HIV/AIDS research work, tell them to fund prevention (including programs which promote condom use!), and tell them to fund care too - medical, psychological, and spiritual/emotional.

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