Sunday, September 21, 2008

AIDS Walk 10

Today was my 10th AIDS Walk. They haven't been consecutive, but only because I was out of town last year for an AMSA event, and that would have been my 10th. So I've been walking for 11 years now. This weighs heavily on me.

If you had told me when I was 14 and stepping off for my first AIDS Walk that 11 years later I would be taking steps to devote my life to studying this disease I wouldn't have been surprised. I would have been a little disappointed that my enthusiasm and small amount of fundraising didn't quite go far enough to nip the epidemic in the bud, but I wouldn't have been surprised. Even at that point, I recognized that HIV/AIDS would define my life. We were, after all, practically part of the same birth cohort. Although cases were showing up in the late seventies, and very early eighties, 1983 still falls solidly at the beginning of the epidemic. As a high school student I learned about HIV/AIDS in a purely domestic context, blissfully unaware of what would transpire over the next 25 years across the globe.

When I first learned about HIV/AIDS and the discrimination faced by the gay and bisexual men who were the public face of the disease, I felt a deep sense of injustice. I'm tragically unsurprised that structural hierarchies of gender, race, sexual orientation, and class continue simultaneously to define the communities hardest hit by the epidemic and to limit the emotional and physical resources devoting to combat it. At the same time, I hold on to the hope that the world can change, and that we can come together to implement creative solutions.

I spent a few moments today at the beginning of the walk silently reflecting on the terrible loss of life from this disease, as well as the incredible strength of those living with HIV/AIDS. I walk for those I¿ve known and lost, as well as for those who continue to fight, and encourage anyone reading this to take a moment of silence, and then dedicate a lifetime to speaking out.

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