Monday, December 1, 2008

World AIDS Day--December 1st

Facing AIDS - World AIDS day 2008

During the 1980s, they called it the Gay Man's disease. We called it the Plague Years. As late as 1992, I was booed down in a public forum for mentioning how women are also at risk. Indeed, AIDS has proven to be an equal opportunity disease. Race, social class, sex, and sexual preference have long ceased to be useful distinctions. AIDS was -- and remains -- a killer.

My friend Marty died from an AIDS-related disease in 1993. I joined his care team after almost everyone else had left. He had saved me for the end. "You're the only person I know who believes in God," he said when he called.

Marty died of cryptosporidiosis, which basically involved defecating out his guts. I cleaned it up, more fascinated than revolted by what his human body could do. I sat and matched his breathing in and out for hours. I talked my 6'1" down-to-90- pound friend into wearing diapers and then gently wrestled him into them.

And oh, what the human spirit could endure. We talked about God when Marty couldn't sleep. I called out to God when Marty slept and I couldn't. Hard to imagine, even as I write this, that my faith in God would have been deepened by the experience of serving Marty as he died of an AIDS-related disease, but that's what happened.

At the very end, Marty didn't want the morphine drip. He wanted to die the way he lived-- feeling everything. He didn't die on my watch, that would happen a week after medication was withdrawn at his request. Did he die believing in God? Does it really matter? He died knowing enough to consider the possibility and I believe that he has since been persuaded.

This disease continues to kill. CDC recently published national HIV incidence (new infections) that showed an estimated 56,300 new HIV infections occurred in 2006--that's substantially higher than the previously estimated 40,000 annual new infections. Learn more at the CDC website.

1 comment:

  1. It's scary how ignorant so many people are about Aids. I had hoped that each new generation would offer hope for improved education, but sadly this isn't the case.

    We can only hope that people like you become the norm as opposed to the few.

    Thanks for a thoughtful post.


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