It's so easy to sweep a misunderstood minority group under the rug and ignore what's happening to "THEM". But it's important to realize, there is really no "them" ... There is only "US" - inclusive of all humanity. And why is this so important? Because to honor each individual, every single human must recognize the humanity of every other.
By categorizing people into groups for hatred, shame, scorn, and ridicule, we condemn ourselves as a species to this streatment. "What goes around, comes around" as Ratt so eloquently reminded us in the '80s (when the AIDS epidemic began). Sooner or later, once you empower hatred against others, you will find yourself in a target group for that same institutionalized hatred.
With the advances in medicine, AIDS activism has lost its sense of urgency. Many believe that it can't happen to them, and that nobody is dying from this disease anymore. Both are untrue. Heterosexual women are among the highest at-risk groups, and 20% of the estimated 1.2 million infected Americans don't even know.
And of those who do, only 2 out of 3 follow up with treatment. 33% remain untreated due to stigma, high cost of healthcare, and fear of side effects. Would you ignore the same kind of statistics for breast cancer? muscular dystrophy? or leukemia?
It's time to rise above our barbaric past, and realize that together we can beat this disease. We can find a cure. We can treat those who are sick. We can give hope to the fearful. We can put an end to the stigma that is only perpetuating an illness that could infect YOU next.
I'm walking with my loyal friend and therapy dog, Nobbles, in the AIDS Walk in Phoenix on October 21. Won't you please support the cause by sponsoring my walk with a donation today? Your generosity is not taken for granted, and all proceeds go directly to local AIDS Service Organizations. Thank you.