Gadgetry, like our planet, seems to get smaller and smaller every day: tiny cell phones, itsy-bitsy music downloading devices, digital cameras the size of a bankcard. We now have so many opportunities to be or feel closer to others those that live far away and even those right near-by.
We can call a friend, congratulate a neighbor, or sing happy birthday to a niece, anywhere from anywhere. We can listen to Aretha Franklin, Nine Inch Nails, Jerry Garcia or the strings of Montovani at any time. We can witness, through instant images, an infant's first breath, a wedding we unfortunately were unable to attend, or undergo an operation with doctor-speaking-to-doctor via telecom. Everything brought to us because of the mass availability of mini "stuff" that we so eagerly gobble up.
But with all this meteoric technological and biomedical progress, it baffles me that something so small as a virus can still elude it all and remain a pandemic "killer" in the 21st century. An estimated 39.5 million men, women and children across the planet live with HIV; the destructive, nondiscriminatory virus known to cause AIDS.
Randy Shilts (Author), Vito Russo (Critic/Journalist), James Merrill (Poet), Willi Smith (Fashion Designer), David Wojnarowitz (Artist), Isaac Asimov (Writer), Way Bandy (Makeup Artist), Tina Chow (Model), Perry Ellis (Fashion Designer), Felix Gonzalez-Torres (Artist), Halston (Fashion Designer), Keith Haring (Artist), Robert Mapplethorpe (Photographer), Herb Ritts (Photographer), Wayland Flowers (Ventriloquist), Robert Joffrey (Choreographer), Rudolph Nureyev (Ballet Dancer), Alvin Ailey (Choreographer), Michael Bennett (Director), Arthur Ashe (Tennis Player), Sylvester (Singer), Liberace (Pianist), Freddie Mercury (Singer), Klaus Nomi (Singer), Lance Loud (Columnist), Peter Allen (Singer/Songwriter), Ryan White (Child AIDS Activist), Steve Rubell (Studio 54 Raconteur), Elizabeth Glazer (AIDS Activist), Robert Reed (Actor), Anthony Perkins (Actor), Rock Hudson (Actor), Brad Davis (Actor), Amanda Blake (Actor)...all of them gone from AIDS-related complications.
It's a very shortlisted "who's-who" of the legion of creative, talented individuals infected and now deceased, who, while alive, became beloved household names. But celebrities living with or dying from AIDS is but the tip of a tremendous iceberg.
On World AIDS Day this December 1, we need to remember those we have lost, but we also need to remember the 39.5 million anonymous individuals and households that are also affected by and infected with HIV... for instance, households like mine.
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