Tuesday, December 01, 2009

World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day, a day that is devoted to one disease that affects a lot of people of very different backgrounds. I have been thinking a lot about this today because the fact of the matter is that, if I am honest, I must admit that I feel a great deal more compassion for some living with the disease than others. If you are in a high risk group and knowingly engage in unprotected, high risk behaviors, then the consequence is of your own doing. Are we doing enough to educate people so that they know the risks? Probably not. But are there people who know the risks and choose to think that it won't happen to them? Of course. This is true of many behaviors that lead to a variety of disastrous consequences. Use you brains, adults. You know better. Get tested. If you choose to have sex, practice safe sex. Not sure if your partner is clean and they refuse to use protection? Keep your trousers zipped. Keep your panties on. If sex is so important to you that you'd risk getting a disease that is, as a doctor on the radio said today, "a ticking time bomb," perhaps you need to talk to a professional about your life priorities.

ANYWAY.

The tragedy of this situation is that people are contracting the disease innocently; maybe a husband who is infected brings it home to his wife, or a mother who is infected passes it on to her child during birth. Maybe the needles in the clinics are tainted or the blood received was not clean. This is where the real tragedy lies, that this can be prevented for these innocents, but those who need to take responsibility either don't know better or can't do better. It's a long and twisted history, but it can get better.



This weighs especially heavy on my heart as we trudge ever closer to our adoption. It breaks my heart that children who are HIV+ and orphaned have a much harder time finding a family than those who are not HIV+. It breaks my heart that we have made the choice that we can't be part of that solution at this time. And it breaks my heart that this is even a reality in our world.

I was in Tanzania in 1994, a white teenager in a group of white teenagers carrying a giant fold-up movie screen around Mount Kilimanjaro to show a few films. One was the story of Jesus (he was speaking Swahili! Who knew?), another was called Zawadi, and a third was an AIDS education movie, the name of which I do not remember. There are a lot of myths then (and still now) about the spread and the cure of HIV. I didn't realize then that we were ahead of the game when it came to AIDS education, back in the pre-Bono, pre-RED days, but today I feel honored to even have been a small part of that. One night I held the ropes that kept the screen from swaying and watched the villagers stare up at the screen, their eyes wide with the wonder of a movie in their very own village. It was magical. It was good. I hope to do more good today and everyday. What this little video expresses is so very true. I cannot wait to get back to Africa when we go to get our daughter. Because I do need Africa more than Africa needs me; I need it to build my family, and I need it to remind me of who I am and what I stand for and what I truly need.

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