Sure, we adults can understand mathematically what "zero" means. But I wonder if we can truly understand what it would mean if there were "zero" cases of HIV; "zero" people afflicted with AIDS. What the world would be like if there were no babies born positive. If there were no graves dug, no child orphaned. Not even one.
This morning I opened my e-mail to find something beautiful. I'm not talking the kind of beautiful that the stars have -- air-brushed "perfection" unattainable in the real world. I'm not talking about the kind of beautiful that advertisers sell to the masses. I'm talking about a beautiful story of a mother's love, a young man's incredible gift. It had me in tears -- the best tears really.
Before I became a mother, I rarely had problems with missing my medication doses. I guess life was calmer and I had less to think about. Being in the midst of early childhood has often left me sleep-deprived. Whether it was the constant wakefulness of early infancy, cutting teeth, or more recently potty training and being sick, as a mom, I often find myself struggling to face mornings! I find that I am most likely to forget my meds when I am running late and particularly if I don't sit down to eat (the eating reminds me to take my meds with the food).
I was recently asked this question, and it made us both start thinking. What with the medical advances of the past decade, and the miracle of antiretrovirals (at least those of us who are blessed to be able to get them), we HIVers are living these days. I've heard of people who have been alive for the full 30 years of the known epidemic. Through my work, this blog, and reading I've been doing from people living with other chronic diagnoses, it seems that there are a lot of comparisons to be made. And yet ...
Within the first year of my diagnosis, a close friend who worked in the medical field had an exposure to bodily fluids and had to go for testing. They knew my status, and in telling me the story very innocently said that they had to go to the "Whore House" for the tests. WOW! I initially was very upset about the implications of this statement -- in effect calling ME a whore. But the intentions of the person were not leaning this way at all; they were just using a term that was common in their place of employment without thinking about the implications. After some time passed, my wounds healed and I began to wonder just WHY this term was so common.
I (Sarah) don't want to sound trite when I take on this topic -- I think this one little word carries with it so much meaning -- both positive and negative. I shared in my introduction post a time in my life when I felt quite deeply the lack of hope -- probably better termed despair. What I have shared with few others is just how far into despair I was.
I wrote this poem in November of 2006, as I pondered for the first time since my diagnosis the possibility of hope. In our next blog Carmen Anthony and I will be sharing some more of our story and talking about ever-elusive Hope.
The burning question in our not-so-normal life these days is this: to rent or to buy? You see, we just started earning enough money to be able to fully pay for our own housing! Yeah!! We've been working towards this goal for years, now -- and finally the day is here. Time to celebrate some measure of self-sufficiency.
In our last post we talked about being diagnosed with HIV (AIDS in Carmen Anthony's case.) Here's the lyrics to the song "Dead Man Walking" that reflects this time in our lives.
When I (Sarah) was 23 years old, I thought that I could conquer the world! Fresh out of college and traveling the world, I became fired up about HIV/AIDS while spending time in Africa (the continent with the highest HIV prevalence rate in the world). I started telling anyone who would listen that they should be tested for the disease. I thought I should walk the walk I was talking, and went to be tested myself. The tester was skeptical as I was technically not "at risk," being a young woman and having a short sexual history. I insisted. The test came back positive.