Day 260: Dec 1, 2020 "If it infects one of us… it affects all of us"
Updated: Dec 20, 2020
Day 260: December 1st, 2020:
"If it infects one of us…it affects all of us"
A Reflection by Victoria MacDonald
Today, December 1st is World AIDS Day. Celebrated on the first day of the last month, every year since 1988, when the World Health Organization, announced that this day would be recognized as a day to support the awareness of the HIV / AIDS pandemic, and to promote compassion toward all those living with, and affected by it.
Today, more than 41 million people, worldwide, have died from HIV /AIDS...and over 36 million are currently living with HIV.
I’m not sure exactly what prompted me to become involved in caring for AIDS patients back in the late 1980’s. I remember there was so much uncertainty and fear about this diagnosis, that even some nurses refused to care for patients, morgues refused to accept bodies of those affected, and even some churches refused to offer funerals! I think, maybe, that’s what got to me...the fear, the rejection...people being treated as “less than” human, as “unworthy,” almost like present day lepers.
(Victoria and early AIDS educators)
I first got involved in the early days, as an HIV/AIDS Educator for the Monterey County AIDS Project, or MCAP... and tried to educate myself as well others. In the process, I came in contact with some remarkable people, both educators, as well as those affected by HIV.
Listening to the stories of so many young people being rejected by their families, wounded by abusive relationships, or working secretly in fear that their bosses would find out who they really were ...and fire them...just for being who they were!
Accepting a position at Face to Face in Santa Rosa is actually what brought me to Sonoma County in December of 2008. As an RN Case Manager, working in tandem with a Medical Social Worker, I traveled the winding roads of West County, Cazadero, Guerneville, and Forestville to see how many of my patients had forged a way to live and some even thrive. Working at Russian River Health Center, a year later, I came to discover that Sonoma County was really a leader in caring for HIV/AIDS patients...that many who had been living in San Francisco, received their diagnosis, left SF to come to “die” in their favorite resorts in Sonoma County.
And in the early 80’s and 90’s many did indeed die. It was in these years that ACT UP formed to protest the lack of governmental leadership in combatting this pandemic and to fight for better treatment. It was thanks to the work of activists like Larry Crammer and a young Dr. Anthony Fauci that advances in treatment came about.
And, in 1996, a “cocktail” of a combination of drugs taken together, became the protocol and greatly reduced the number of deaths. And in the following years, new medications turned this fatal disease into one that can now be managed, not cured, but now a chronic, manageable disease.
More importantly, HIV/AIDS patients have taught ME so much. I have been honored to witness their determination and courage to love who they love, against all odds;
(Ryland Jones with mom)
to love...boldly and with passion! To fight for themselves and others for the care, medications and treatment they deserved.
The many patients, I’ve known, the colleagues I have been fortunate to work alongside, have enriched my life with blessings I am still discovering.
On this World AIDS DAY, this first day of the last month of 2020, I honor all the lives lost to HIV/AIDS and hold close all those living with and being cared for this disease...may each know the beauty, goodness and depth of spirit that has been brought into this world...because of who you are. Happy World AIDS Day everyone!
Grace Note: A Podcast for us from America Magazine: It's called Plague
In “Plague,” journalist Michael O'Loughlin investigates the untold stories of AIDS and the Catholic Church.
Click on this linkto listen to the trailer and first two episodes below, and subscribe to the podcast to get each new episode as it is released.:
You can also subscribe and listen to "Plague” on Apple Podcasts, on Google Play, or on Spotify.
Mike is America’s national correspondent and he’s covered Catholicism for more than a decade.
Mike is also gay and Catholic—and he’s curious how others manage this sometimes complex identity. Through dozens of interviews and archival research, he’s found that no time in modern history was more volatile for gay Catholics than the height of the AIDS epidemic.
Mike met with people who were right there, in the middle of the early days of the HIV and AIDS epidemic in the United States. People who fought, worked and grieved their ways through this trying time.
Bruce Springsteen - Streets of Philadelphia
Katie Melua - I Will Be There
Cyndi Lauper - Boy Blue
2CELLOS - Benedictus (by Karl Jenkins)