It's really hard to believe that today is the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day. I don't know if it's a good or bad thing, but I remember this day being around practically my entire life. It's really interesting to reflect on how it's been repurposed though from shifting the focus from the American epidemic (AIDS quilt, etc.) to the global epidemic that it's become.
I admittedly didn't do much today to make an impact other than buying (RED) Gingersnap Latte from Starbucks. Thanks to my consumerism, five cents goes to the fight against AIDS in Africa.
I also pledged online (well I tried, but I think there was a browser error) to volunteer or donate to an AIDS cause. You can too, via the button below.
That pledge will probably end up being the 2009 AIDS Walk, provided I am in town October 3, 2009. I have done it in the past and it truly is a powerful event.
As with my post on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, I definitely want to draw attention to some resources for those living with or the families affected by those with HIV/AIDS. These groups are also essential in educating the public that AIDS is not just a disease in faraway lands, but it also still hits close to home and prevention is key.
The AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin not only provides health and legal services to those living with HIV in Wisconsin, but also helps prevent the spread of the disease.
Camp Heartland is one of the most amazing organizations I've ever heard of, and it's so wonderful that it's based in my own backyard. Their mission is to be: "committed to greatly improving the lives of children, youth and their families impacted by HIV/AIDS and other significant life challenges worldwide." Anytime I've seen or heard a presentation or story about their work I choke up. It's just so moving. Seriously, read the history. Crying yet?
My experience with a past AIDS Walk and a group of Camp Heartland walkers in front of me is what inspires me to remain aware of the cause locally. Unfortunately there are still ignorant bigots out there that claim AIDS is some sort of punishment from God. Seeing these a-holes with their signs (many featuring Christian imagery or invoking Jesus's name), screaming at these beautiful, happy kids who, by whatever circumstances beyond their control, are forced to live a life with HIV, probably made me the angriest I've ever been in my life.
So yes, I do care about kids in Africa too. I care about the virgins who are raped because urban legend says that can cure AIDS. But until we in our own country can come together to fight the disease as a health issue and not some sort of moral/religious issue, I think there is greater work to be done.