{ how has your life been touched by AIDS? }

This is something that I am new to. Unitil recently, I had never really known anyone that was facing down AIDS. But, fortunately for me, I have been able to get to know at least a few people in this situation, living with AIDS. I never got to know any of them particularly well, as these individuals were primarily coworkers, but even limited friendship has taught me something.

It occured to me when I was reading a magazine a few months ago and I saw an advertisement. The phrase was so simple that I'm still surprised that it caught my attention. "Happiness is not around the corner. Happiness is the corner." In it's own oversimplified way, it reminded me of my watercooler friends, living with AIDS. I don't know how they are, but I know that they taught me that, for me, the most important part of this journey is not to lose sight of the present-- Not to let anxieties and desires for the future overshadow that joy that is living and experiencing with the time that we have. For this I am grateful. I only hope that those people who taught me this lesson are continuing to enjoy their present.

Nick {nickolaj@aol.com1 Dec 2000



The Guru, Ma Jaya has said that there are no throwaway people.

Shambo taught me that, too.

He lived in a hospice (www.riverfund.org) at the Kashi Ashram in Florida. He was there, very ill. He was upset because they were about to go and hand shoes out to some of the migrant workers in the farms (many of them are too poor and don't have proper shoes to wear, which can be dangerous on a farm). He was sick then, and a few months ago finally passed away.

Shambo touched me, because no matter how bad his AIDS was (and it was bad), he still helped people. He still extended his hand out to others, when I had not, and was in far better a place to do so health wise. I never had the chance to meet him in person, but to this day he influences my life. After a fashion, he will never die, in my mind, and my heart.

Thank you very much Shambo...by following your example maybe someone like me can one day repay what you've given her.

Donna Schaefer {seshet@kemet.org1 Dec 2000

I come from a small town, Kolhapur. Aids can be such a stigma there.

This happened in the family of a family friend. His dad was my dad's close friend and they offices were next door.

I had met him several times inmy dad's office. He was young, just married and full of energy.My dad's friend expired because of a heart attack. He was the sole earner of the family.

None of us knew about his being ill. And them one day the news struck. He was no more with us. I was away. My mom visited their place. His wife had fainted and was in a coma. The whole family was in a shock.

We did not know how to react. We still do not know how to react.

Atul Yadav  1 Dec 2000



(from my site - 30/8/00)

Q: How many needles does it take before Kristin passes out in a doctor's office. A: It takes 3. It takes 3, and then she slides off of the guerney and onto the floor, very quietly and gracefully, and with a minimum of fuss.

Pfft. Or, it takes 3, but she slides off of the guerney, hits the floor hard enough to get a bloody nose, and takes out a tray of sterilized instruments.

I will let you all decide which way it REALLY happened. Be kind. My nose is killing me.

So, I had a tonne of injections today, more tomorrow, and then the rest on Monday, and I am not thrilled about any of this. But something happened at the lab today that really gave me pause. The tech was looking for a vein, to draw blood - the veins in both of my arms around the elbows are pretty much blown out, or too deep, and she couldn't get anything, so we went for a sure thing, the vein I hold back until all else fails, a lovely little gusher between the second and third knuckle of my right hand.

She slid the needle in between my knuckles, and I closed my eyes, and concentrated on my breathing, and she rooted around for a very long minute, and then got the needle in the vein, and filled the little glass vials up with blood, and all was fine, until she pulled the needle out ,and a big gush of blood burst forth, covering my hand and hers in bright, slick redness. Not just a few drops, either, but enough to completely cover her fingers and knuckles, and as I stare at this stuff, this little bit of my life dripping out of my knuckles, I realize that the tech isn't gloved, and my blood is all over her bitten-raw cuticles, and that, among all the checkmarks on the lab papers is one for an AIDS test.

There is nothing you can say to reassure someone in that situation.

The next day, a nurse in the same office advised me that, "....women don't really get AIDS that way," referring to the tech's gloveless, wounded hands. I was stunned silent.

Kristin  1 Dec 2000

I have a friend.
She has a sister.
Her sister caught a disease
From someone she loved.
The lover died.
The sister died.
They left a little boy.
My wife and I took care
of the little boy
while his mother lay
dying in a hospital bed.
Our lives will never be the same.
Neither will his.
He still doesn't understand.
Neither do I.

Tim {tpg@nicholece.com1 Dec 2000



I was a country girl in the big city. I made new friends, and my best new friend was David. David had been out all his life, and was comfortable in himself like no one else I ever knew, then or now. David was also one of the very first people in the UK to be diagnosed HIV positive. A year after we met he developed sarcomas on his back. Two months later he was in a hospice. We held a birthday party for him in intensive care. He didn't cry, but most everyone else did.

When his family buried him they cut his georgeous hair, and took out his earrings, and buried him in an awful cheap black suit that he wouldn't have been caught dead in - but he was. I was angry at everyone. I cried for days.

I miss David at the strangest times. I miss him all the time. He was my friend.

hannah {hannah@timelesstech.com1 Dec 2000

my first college was in LA. i had gone there because it was close to the school chosen by a guy i had a crush on. i thought our being within 100 miles of each other would somehow bring us together. he quit his school within a month and moved further away.

i quickly realized that i didn't like my chosen school. the students were generally from a wealthier background than i was - or they were attempting to pass as such. some students drove BMWs. i didn't have a car. i spent my time in solo pursuits - the photography darkroom was a favorite hide out.

i don't remember how i met Peter. perhaps we worked together or had a class together. but within him i found a soul mate. not a romantic soul mate - for he soon came out of the closet - but a mate i could hang out with, talk with, cry with. he made my two years at that first college bearable.

i transferred up to UCBerkeley. his family lived in San Mateo, across the bay. his mother grudgingly accepted the fact that her son was gay, but she didn't make Peter's life easy. his father... well, his father was not as accepting as his mother. so Peter would come up and visit his mother from time to time and we would see each other.

Peter was the one who got me hooked on coffee. we went to a small coffee house in San Mateo and he suggested i try a mocha since i wasn't much into coffee. we left there and i felt the massive buzz of caffeine all the way home. i was hooked.

Peter eventually moved up to the Castro area in SF. he had an apartment right on the Castro - a gay boy's dream. he met a man named Mitch. they fell in love. Mitch lived in Cinncinati and didn't want to move out to SF. Peter decided to move, to follow his love.

he had one last blow out night at the Castro. it was a blast. we drank, we danced, we talked. everyone we ran into had the same thing to say to Peter: "Cincinnati? Why?" he would answer:

"For Mitch, because I love him."

"Oh," they'd say, "you'll be back here within a year."

by the end of the evening, Peter was crying. he thought his friends would be supportive. he wondered if he was doing the right thing. i put my arms around him and told him Yes, you are doing the Right Thing. you have found love. that is a very Good Thing. he ended up moving.

i visited him in Cincinnati. he and Mitch had a great apartment, and a great circle of friends. we went out dancing, we drank, we talked. the next morning we had coffee at breakfast.

a few years passed. Peter and i kept in touch via phone and mail. we would drop off each other's world from time to time, just to reappear later.

one day i got a phone call from Mitch. i thought, how odd, as i didn't usually talk to Mitch when i called Peter. we chatted for a few moments and i asked "how's Peter?" then he told me - Peter had died from AIDS. i didn't even know he was sick. i cried. i thought of my friend's beautiful face wracked with pain and thin from weight loss and cried some more. i thought of our times together at college and in SF.

now, 10 years later, i still cry for Peter. i don't have any pictures of him save the ones in my head. all i have is an eraser he once wrote his name on. i don't use it. it's kept with my other precious items. i miss him.

today i give thanks that i knew Peter, and i send my love to those who have AIDS.

lulu {lulu@mindspring.com1 Dec 2000



I was the first to be tested in the clinic where I worked. It was 1987, I had just graduated from college. College for me was 6 years of playing rock in small clubs and sometimes opening for big name bands, reading great literature and trashy novels, verbally sparring with the smarty pants kids I hung out with, and yes, sleeping around. A lot.

I had just received word the previous week that Michael had been diagnosed. He was the first. I had also just learned that one of my trysts - another musician in another band - was an IV drug user (rare in my community of 1985). It was not with a light heart that I let the clinician draw my blood that day. It was part of my training as an educator and counselor for the clinic. I was forced to be brave and own up.

Anyone who has tested will tell you, the week between blood-draw and results is long. Very long.

I am healthy. I am lucky. I remind myself every day that this life I have is a blessing.

Katy {danilow_2000@yahoo.com1 Dec 2000

Coming out is tough - unless you're lucky enough to have an older gay friend to help you through the rough spots. Morris was my friend. I was 17, he was 35. It wasn't a sexual thing, more like he was my uncle. He taught me to laugh when someone was insulting, how to walk proudly down the street holding my boyfriend's had, how to live with strength and diginity and grace.

After college I moved away, to the other side of the coast. We kept in touch, irregularly, but he was still the one I went to when I had a problem, when I had a question.

In August of 94 another friend sent me a copy of the local paper, to show me an article in it. As I flipped through the pages, I came to the obituaries.

My uncle Morris had died. And nobody thought to let me know.

I miss him still. Whenever I have a problem, whenever I look at my life and wonder what's going on, I think of him and his lessons.

stuart {scarroll@ascid.com1 Dec 2000



My partner works in HIV research and clinical trials, and like most research it's thankless, long and underpaid work. A depressing side is they process not only viral loads of clinical trial patients, but also needle stick injuries in the hospital and new-borns. There must be little worse in the world than being the first to know that a nurse or doctor has accidently become infected by trying to do thier job, or that a baby has been born with a noose around thier neck.

What depresses me is that 95% of all people infected with HIV (32.3 million people) live in developing countries, and some populations have up to 20% infection rate. 2.5 million people die each year from the disease. In countries were thousands of children die each day from a myriad of diseases it's one more killer to add to the list.

For these people there is no hope, no treatment, no prelonging of life. Why? In part due to poverty and the fact that drug companies push money-driven governments (especially the US) into bullying developing countries, forcing them to decline the legal right to cheap drugs. Be aware, help save lives:

Medecins Sans Frontieres - Report on the cost of HIV/AIDS MEDICINES
ICASO Position Statement on Compulsory Licensing
Treatment Action Campaign - Fighting for affordable treatment for people with HIV

Dom {dom@alternativa.co.uk1 Dec 2000

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{ 8 JUN 2005: Posting has been discontinued. }