AIDS Action Network Alert
As unfortunate as it is that almost 15 years into the AIDS epidemic the adjective "courageous" must still be used to describe any person who announces a positive serostatus and thus braves the stigma associated with HIV disease, it is the only word that comes to mind when describing Judith A. Billings [the State of Washington's Superintendent of Public Instruction]. Any time someone living with HIV disease has the courage to make known his or her serostatus, whether to a close circle of loved ones and friends or to the nation as Ms. Billings did in her announcement today, yet another human face is placed on an epidemic that is all too often reduced to cumulative numbers of cases.
It is the face of Judith A. Billings, and those of the thousands of other Americans living with this insidious virus, that demonstrates again and again the reality of AIDS in America: AIDS does not discriminate. It affects all of our families and communities across the nation. And, more importantly, AIDS is a disease that, until its transmission is finally arrested, will demand the type of open and honest discussion that Ms. Billings has demonstrated today. Whether Ms. Billings seeks a congressional seat or simply advocates on AIDS issues in her future endeavors, she has, through her action today, already added significantly to the public debate around HIV disease. The state of Washington, indeed the nation, should applaud her courage in facing this disease and in stepping into the advocacy battle.
For more information, contact
AIDS Action Council
1875 Connecticut Avenue NW #700
Washington DC 20009
Mark Barnes is executive director of AIDS Action Council. Founded in 1984, AIDS Action represents more than 1,000 community-based AIDS service organizations nationwide, and is the only national organization devoted solely to lobbying the federal government on AIDS policy, legislation and funding.