I'm pretty sure this picture is copyrighted and I'll probably get in a heap of trouble for using it, but these are just two of the faces of AIDS. I got this picture from PCEM which stands for Program Committee on Education for Mission. You can click on this link to go their website and read how they are working to educate people about this deadly disease.
I just wanted everyone out there to see that Gay men are not the only ones affected by this disease. Neither is it limited to adults. The faces of AIDS are many and varied. They could be your son, your daughter, your grandchild, your mother, your father, your sister, your brother. Anyone and everyone can be infected by this and is.
More than twenty years after the first cases of HIV/AIDS was diagnosed in this country, the numbers of infected have skyrocketed to alarming proportions.
From being the so called Gay plague or Gay disease, it has morphed into an equal opportunity infection , knowing no age or gender boundaries.
Now it is infecting our children, our babies, our teens, our adolescents. No one is immune to this disease.
Drugs have been developed that can control AIDS, but there is still, after more than twenty years, no cure, short of a plastic bubble.
No, it's not funny. We can stop the spread of AIDS by making just a couple of smart choices.
We can practice safe sex. Using a condom is an excellent way to prevent the spread of the disease, but it's certainly not foolproof. The surest way is abstinence, but lets face it, how many teenagers are willing to practice abstinence? How many adults? Very few.
So what is the answer? I don't know. I'm no scientist, or doctor.
From what I gather, teens are rapidly becoming the most infected in this country; with young blacks and Hispanics topping the list. But, all teens are at risk, and short of convents and monasteries, is there any way to stop these kids from having sex? No, not really. Remember when you were young?
The only way to slow the spread of AIDS is through education and example. Practice safe sex, use a condom and try to remember that even condoms are not 100% effective against AIDS.
If you or someone you know even suspects they may have been infected, get tested immediately. Don't wait, go now.
Even if you test negative, further testing is needed at six month intervals to be certain. One can test negative for HIV today and six months later test positive. And in the meantime, how many others have you put at risk? How many other innocent people have you infected by your carelessness?
Don't think that it can't happen to you. I'd be willing to bet you that to a person, everyone in this country infected with HIV said the same thing.
How can you be 100% certain that your partner isn't infected? Because he/she is a doctor, a lawyer, makes no difference. Professional people do have sex, believe me, and for that matter alone they can be infected, and they can spread the disease to you.
Education is the only way to help prevent the spread of AIDS, but even that isn't a magic pill.
You may read up on the disease, know the risks, know how to protect yourself, but does your partner? What if you are in a monogamous relationship for a few years and you are completely comfortable in the knowledge that your partner is HIV free. Okay, so no more condoms, they're awful and time consuming and really not necessary in this relationship. Okay, nine out of ten time, that's perfectly accurate. But, what if your partner strays, just once, a one nighter that meant nothing, and you forgive him/her and resume your condom-less relationship. So what if your significant other's one nighter was infected with HIV and he/she didn't know? Now you both are infected. And who knows how many others?
This disease isn't going to go away by itself. Not without everyone worldwide becoming educated and practicing safe sex. But in reality, we all know that is about as likely as your mother-in-law growing a second head. Okay, bad analogy, but you get the picture.
All you can do is educate yourself and protect yourself and hope and pray that your partner does the same.
For the year 2007, 40% of the sale of every copy of "Dark Ridge" will be donated to AIDS relief. W.H.A.T. is gearing up for a full year of money making events to aid in the treatment of HIV/AIDS.
Look for e-books in the coming months that chronicle the disease and the real people who have lived with not only the disease, but the stigma of it. All proceeds from the sale of these e-books will go to HIV/AIDS relief.
www.pagefreepublishing.com, or order it at any Borders, Hastings or B Dalton Booksellers, or any book retailers nationwide.
You may not think your small purchase will be of any real help in this fight, but believe me, every penny helps to provide medicine for those infected with this deadly disease.
And please remember, babies and small children are dying, and your contribution will help get much needed medicine to these children, and others who can not afford the medicine they need to keep living.