Tuesday, December 01, 2009


As a child of the 1980s, there were many things pulled out that frightened everyone during that time. You had the possibility of nuclear holocaust, or the economic recessions, or hundreds of other smaller moments that felt totally monumental at the time. Along with all of these choices, there was one event that started out very quietly but wound up building to a crescendo by the end of the decade. Whether that slow burn came from indifference by the government at large or the rate at which the disease worked it’s way through the person’s body, this wasn’t something that jumped right out to get our attention. It was the arrival of the HIV disease or, as it is usually called, AIDS.

I didn’t hit 18 years old until 1990 so most of the decade was spent watching the slow build of AIDS on the news programs and the random entertainment programs that included it as a plot device. Other than that, the disease didn’t seem to enter my suburban world in a physical sense. That didn’t mean that it wasn’t in my mind but that was as far as it got for me.

It seemed to take forever to finally get to the point where the government started to see just how important this disease was and how it wasn’t just the “gay cancer” that they must have thought it was or wanted it to seem. Both the gay and hetero worlds were starting to see the powers that AIDS was bringing to bear and the need to seriously start to look for a cure. The 1990s found more time spent in sorrow with people passing away and optimism over the possibility of a cure but AIDS was still this floating curse that looked like the equivalent of a death sentence once the diagnosis was made.

After so many people passed away, the doctors had come up with a drug cocktail that could help to control the infection but was nowhere near a full cure. It was still a dark diagnosis for anyone that received that news but at least there was hope of maintenance if not a total form of remission. You wind up having to take multiple expensive drugs on a daily basis but at least it can hold it in place for the most part.

Move your vision up to the current day and it is a different kind of world that AIDS is a part of. Instead of the dreaded scourge that it was, it almost seems like the United States has forgotten about how evil the disease is. You can chalk it up to whatever you want to but the importance is not like it used to be. This isn’t the same as it is in the rest of the world and that has hindered a lot of the responses to the firestorm that AIDS is burning through the African continent. There are complete generations that are dying directly from the disease or having their lives and future possibilities destroyed by the ramifications of what they are left with. There are orphanages that are full of the sons and daughters of parents that have passes away from the disease. Many of these children are also HIV positive which leaves them stuck both behind the proverbial eight ball and strapped onto the cue ball at the same time.

Thankfully many groups saw this firestorm coming and have been working to fight back against the flames of disaster. Medical groups, children’s charities, and more were in the forefront of bringing attention to what was going on and the need to help. These are people that can’t possibly afford the monetary bills that come from purchasing all of the drugs needed to care for their situation. Through the charitable work of all of these people and groups, there is now at least hope that the people of Africa now see what the disease is and how to protect themselves from what is to possibly come.

Where does that leave us on this World’s AIDS Day? It kind of seems that we are a little ahead of the game since there is the mixture of drugs that can help keep the disease in check but that still doesn’t leave us with an actual cure. That is still being looked for but I don’t really know how much of attention that used to be directed towards it is still evident. There are new diseases and problems that have come about that have pulled off both people and finances but AIDS still hasn’t gone away. It just seems to leave the situation in this gray area where there is work being done but the whole situation gets swept under the carpet here in the United States.

I always try to keep an optimistic view on the possible future and there does seem to be a good sign about the situation. But, even with that optimistic idea, I do worry about the seeming forgetfulness of most of the world when it comes to the AIDS situation around the world. There have been many advances made over the years but you can also say that we have kind of stayed in place over the past decade or so when it comes to finding a true cure. Even in a world full of new diseases appearing on it would seem a near daily basis, we should never let something as deadly as AIDS to fall into the mental background or we run the chance of having another situation like what happened on the African continent again. There is always the chance that it could come back that way here in the United States but that is something to think of for another day. For now there is work to be done to finally bring a cure to the people that seriously need it.