It’s not about gay or straight. It’s about the people. Currently more than 1 million Americans are infected with HIV; the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and half a million have already died of AIDS or Autoimmune Deficiency Syndrome.
A handsome young man of 19 living on the streets with no where to go. He needed money to live and so he sold his body for a few dollars. With the incentive of earning $10.00 a counselor convinced him to get tested for HIV. Imagine his surprise when only days before his 20th birthday he found that he was HIV positive. It’s not about gay or straight it’s about our youth.
Despite large increases in reported AIDS cases over the last few years most Americans believe the HIV/AIDS epidemic is over with in the United States, that our AIDS epidemic has been controlled and contained. The truth is otherwise. HIV is not going away, and it’s not being confined to high risk groups. In recent years HIV/AIDS has gained a lot of ground fast, making serious in roads along the hidden fault lines in our society. A new surge of HIV is on its way that will be much worse than the first wave in the 1980’s. The United States has the most severe HIV epidemic of any developed country. We are not immune.
She is 97 years old a mother, a grandmother, a great grandmother. She lives in New York and because of a program at her church she took an HIV test, she found she was positive. It’s not about gay or straight, it’s about the senior citizen.
Thirty-five years ago, you couldn’t find an American with the virus. Now AIDS is in more communities than McDonald’s, KFC and Wal-mart put together, as ubiquitous as the hidden and illegal behaviors it depends on to spread. AIDS is everywhere, from New York to the most remote islands off of the Alutians, in Texas border towns and Native American reservations and yes right here in Eugene, Oregon. The infection has crept in to every age group, effects families in every corner of out Nation. AIDS is infecting all the branches of our American family tree and seeping into its roots. It’s not about gay or straight, it’s about Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Great Falls, Tucson, Minneapolis, Birmingham, Chattanooga, Chicago, Dayton, Detroit, Philadelphia, Manhattan, Newark, Baltimore, Miami and every city in between.
He’s 80 now and enjoying a full life, retired and living on the Oregon Coast. He raised two wonderful, successful kids, but something is missing; children are supposed to outlive their parents, parents aren’t supposed to have to bury their kids. It’s not about gay or straight, it’s about a fathers love.
AIDS is the worst epidemic the world has ever known. It will soon become the worst epidemic the United States will ever know, yet it is virtually ignored by most Americans, their doctors and our government because it has been deliberately identified with “problem populations”. Since it was identified in the mid-1980’s, it has killed 37 million people. More than 40 million people are now infected, 14,000 each day. There is no cure. There is no vaccine. The problem is in our heartland, our homeland, and the center of our soul as more Americans take their place in the family portrait painted by HIV. It’s not about gay or straight it’s about our mothers, our fathers, sisters and brothers. The profile of the typical American with AIDS has changed drastically since the epidemic began. In the early years homosexuality and drug use were the key driving factors. It’s not about gay or straight, it’s about being responsible for the ones you love and the ones with which you are making love.
Tall, handsome, a real honey-dip”, he swept her off of her feet. He was flowers, expensive dinners; in six months they were married. 2 years later she learned the love of her life had full blown AIDS. It’s not about gay or straight, it’s about love, trust and the truth.
History tells us that epidemics last a long time. HIV/AIDS will be around for at least the next 200 or 300 years. The trajectory of HIV/AIDS growth that started in the late 1980’s will continue until the middle of the twenty-first century, with peaks and valleys occurring at different times on different continents. Then after a long plateau there will be a long drop and AIDS will stabilize worldwide at a lower level and be with us permanently as an epidemic, chronic disease. His name is Scott C. Rankins an artistic man with a bright future, handsome with a devilish grin. He lived a carefree life surrounded by people who loved and adored him. He died at age 40 of AIDS. It’s not about gay or straight, it’s about my brother. It’s not about gay or straight it’s about you, you, you, you, you …and you.