I first heard the news that Malaysian Airlines flight 17 had been shot out of the sky at a stopover in Sydney, en route to the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne. I stared at the television in disbelief as the initial (and incorrect) coverage reported that as many as 100 conference delegates had been onboard. I felt numb even as the number of attendees on board dropped over the next few days to fifty and then, finally, to six, among them one of the world's leading HIV researchers from the Netherlands and an official of the World Health Organization.
NEW MESSAGE! Showed up on my screen. It was Ralph confirming our birthday eve rendezvous.
"See you around ten?" he texted. I agreed and expressed excitement. I was turning 30 and feeling the change. This is such a blessing to make it ten years strong of HIV and see another year, another chapter of life. On top of having Ralph on top of me.
By now, Ferguson, Missouri has gained international attention. Being a 4th generation-resident of St. Louis, I wish the attention was for reasons other than police brutality, riots and the death of an unarmed teenager. Last night, day seven of the movement, I decided to venture down to Ferguson. For those of you who are unaware, Ferguson is in St. Louis County, located about 15 minutes north of downtown St. Louis.
I slept poorly. I woke up feeling dizzy and didn't want to leave the house. I did anyway. I went to see the AIDS Quilt.
The other day, I Googled "dating" to get pictures for a blog post and the images that popped up were all of some sort of reference to dating online. Like for real, for real, so many pictures came up with computer images with hearts that I rechecked to make sure that I had actually searched "dating," or that some sort of auto-correct hadn't led me to online dating. LOL!
Nausea and exhaustion merged and sleep took over. I woke the next morning in my hotel room curled up in the middle of the bed hugging the pillow. Something had come over me last night and it had been cathartic. I knew I needed to do better. "Sophie is not coming back," I told myself. "The good thing is the joy she brought you for eight years," I mumbled. I remind myself of this daily. I remember when Oprah lost one of her white labs, Gracie after one year. She watched her die from swallowing a small toy. I had just gotten Sophie and could not even image the pain she felt. I shuddered to think about it. I had Sophie for eight wonderful years.
So after the Mike fiasco, I decided to give getting to know someone a break and like magic, Scotty shows up. I've known of him for at least a year before we've done anything sexual. I met him while filming a promo video for my project EQUINOX dancing in the middle of some artwork in the city when he slithered ... I mean, showed up. I knew he was interested and to be honest I was a bit annoyed, especially since I was in my creative mode.
By now the more scientific highlights from the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) in Melbourne has been digested and shared through your networks. There's always something unexpected -- and sometimes even encouraging, such as the new iPrEx study results showing, again, the efficacy of Truvada as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). The evidence mounts.
It's humbling to know that one voice in a small town in Wilmington, NC, can reach so many people around the world and have a global effect. It creates a ripple effect of positive energy, education and enlightenment. I'm really humbled to know that people are actually receptive to the message I'm trying to convey and people are listening, so that makes me feel like this blog is actually worth it.
The sad news out of Mississippi about the young child who was thought cured of HIV perfectly illustrates why it is just so important to continue supporting AIDS Service Organizations. They are still very much in need, and sorely underfunded. Education efforts are still relevant. People are still contracting HIV and people are still dying from related complications. To date, Timothy Ray Brown is the only person who has been functionally cured of HIV successfully. If you are able to give anything at all to these worthy organizations, please do.
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