I Chose Not to Fear
You may be at the end of your rope, but never be at the end of your hope. We must keep hope alive; we must believe that AIDS will be eradicated. There is power in belief -- if no one believes they can make a difference, then no one will do anything to make a difference.
Without belief we have no believers, no educators, no advocates. Thanks to The Center for AIDS Information & Advocacy (CFA) and Project LEAP, I can educate and I can advocate. And maybe I can be a voice to speak on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves, for those who don't know they need to be spoken for, and for those who can speak, but are not being heard.
I start my education here and now. "Every 16 seconds a woman is infected with HIV." My mission is to make sure that for every 5 seconds of those 16 seconds, a woman is educated about HIV. "Every 29 seconds a woman dies from an AIDS-related illness." I believe that I have been chosen as an advocate for such women.
If I can help save one woman, then a generation has been saved. I challenge every reader to join me and help create a generation of people with the mission to abolish AIDS forever.
During the holiday season, as you see all the Christmas trees, imagine The CFA as a tree in the forest of knowledge. The CFA empowers the HIV/AIDS advocate, just as a tree supports its branches. People like you and me are the everlasting leaves, which must drop and spread the word, changing the way in which we educate, empower, and fight to eliminate the fear that surrounds this disease.
I consider FEAR as "False Evidence Appearing Real," the mother of all misconception. An example of FALSE -- "only bad people get infected with HIV/AIDS." Of course, the reality is that anyone and everyone are at risk of contracting this disease. An example of EVIDENCE -- "people who have HIV/AIDS have a short lifespan." The reality is that thanks to medical science, people are living for decades with the disease. An example of APPEARING -- "this disease is for the homosexuals and drug abusers." The reality is that HIV/AIDS has no sexual or social preference. An example of REAL -- "I know I don't have HIV or AIDS." The reality is that most people have not been tested, and the only way to know for sure is to be tested.
Have you been tested? Do you know your HIV status?
I have learned that through the process of evolution, you can change the root thought of misunderstanding and negative perception in people about people.
Donald Neal Walsh reminds me that all people are made up of 3 parts: thoughts, words, and actions. Thoughts are the first level of creation. Words are thoughts expressed. Actions are words moving. After you read this essay, don't just take comfort in thoughts and words, but take action and move forward.
If Christianity can start with 13 people and spread to 125 million worldwide, just imagine what you could do if you were to share the facts and educate your family, neighbors, friends, and co-workers about HIV and AIDS. This is the "each one, teach one" system. I don't just say this to impress you, but to impress upon you the need for everyone to understand that this battle is not just for the people who are infected or affected, but this battle is all of ours.
We must learn as much as we can to help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. We cannot depend on agencies, governments, politicians, or teachers. It is our responsibility to make sure that there shall be no family left behind, no family left uneducated, no family left unprotected, and no family left untested.
Knowledge about HIV and AIDS is an important part of the battle, but it is also very important to be tested. As a mother raising 4 children alone, I cannot afford not to know my status. Knowledge is power and it is with this power that I give to my children the chance to love instead of fear.
I feel that Mac Anderson said it best, "Behind me is the infinite power, before me is endless possibility, around me is boundless opportunity." So, I choose not to fear. What do you choose?
Lisa Acogny is a 2005 graduate of Project LEAP (Learning, Empowerment, Advocacy, and Participation).
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This article was provided by The Center for AIDS. It is a part of the publication Research Initiative/Treatment Action!. Visit CFA's website to find out more about their activities and publications.