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My Letter to HIV: A Letter From Julia Mascardo

April 24, 2012

HIV,

No pleasantries here. Although you and I are not personally acquainted, it is only a few degrees of separation between me and people who cohabitate with you. As such, I have no desire to be civil with you, because you refuse to be civil with people that I know and care about.

I remember the first day I met someone who shared you in his life. I was at a 4-H convention in Chicago, and the keynote speaker was a very skilled athlete named Arthur Ashe. It was December 1992, less than two months before he passed away. I wasn't a sports fan, and so although I knew his name, I knew next to nothing about this giant of a man standing before me. I do remember that he started his speech with “My name is Arthur Ashe, and I have AIDS.” He explained that he had you come into his life, not because of anything that he did or a bad decision made, but because medical science hadn't caught up to your exploits yet. Although it is too late for him in this lifetime, I am pleased that medical science is catching up with you and will continue to make inroads into your spheres of influence. It is one of the joys in the work I do for one of my day jobs that, in some small way, I'm helping move medical science forward against you.

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