Monday, December 1, 2008
When I first started to come to Atlanta, HIV awareness campaigns were everywhere. Free condoms and lube fell like raindrops. I was literally accosted by HIV/AIDS pamphlets at the club. Celebrities wore bracelets declaring to stand up until a cure was found. Television specials aired and blogs buzzed about the disease. Today, I have barely heard a mention of World AIDS Day and that is sad.
Over 25 million Americans have contracted HIV since 1981.
While blacks comprise only 13% of the U.S. population, 49% of new HIV cases are blacks. Of the total percentage of new black AIDS cases, 61% designated same sex male contact as their transmission category.
My heart is broken as I write this because I realize that so much more needs to be done to fight this disease. More needs to be done to educate, especially young black men, about safe, satisfying sex. More needs to be done to support those battling this disease and who are, despite inadequate health care, winning every day. And more needs to be done to honor those who have lost their lives to this disease.
I don’t know any black gay man who does not know someone who is living with this disease. I don’t know any black gay man who has not had a sexual encounter with someone who is battling this disease and I don’t know any gay black man who has not engaged in some sort of risky behavior that could have lead to this disease.
I should be HIV positive. Honestly, every one who reads this blog (gay, straight, black, white) should be HIV positive. It is by grace that I am HIV negative. The same grace that keeps me cancer free, keeps me HIV negative. And I am not HIV negative because I deserve to be and no one has HIV because they deserve to have it. I am not HIV negative because I have lived a chaste life or because I have not engaged in high risk behavior. I am HIV free right now because that is not my calling or my cross to bear at this moment and I believe the same can be said for everyone who is HIV negative.
We cannot stop caring. We cannot stop hoping. Most importantly, we cannot stop praying.