- Faith & Family
Last week citizens of the U.S. participated in marches, rallies, candlelight vigils and other related activities to bring awareness to HIV/AIDS. As we all know, Black youth and Black women, are disproportionately impacted by this disease but none of us are immune. It was heartwarming to see people of all races, ages, sexual orientations, social classes and professions linked arm-in-arm as they marched.
Some marched on Flagler Street downtown last Friday night, inspired by the infectious smile of Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who encouraged several hundred Miami residents who live with HIV/AIDS every day of their lives. Others marched down Liberty City’s 22nd Avenue in a collection of mostly young gay and lesbian Black youth who say they’re tired of being blamed for how this disease is assaulting our community.
There are some things that we can all do in the battle against HIV/AIDS. First, we can all get tested and encourage others to do the same. We can push for more medical care and research. We can support those impacted by the disease and offer our love — whether they are members of our church, our co-workers or part of our family or circle of friends.
But more than that, we can push to end the stigma that has long been associated with HIV/AIDS. While the numbers continue to climb and despite significant improvements in treatment and detection, HIV/AIDS is still running rampant. It still kills. But it is a disease that we don’t have to contract — not if we practice safer forms of sex, abstain from intercourse all together, or limit ourselves to one sexual partner.
Black youth tend to believe that they are like Superman — unable to be harmed by the ‘Kryptonite’ of the world. But they are wrong. And we are just as much at fault if we teach them otherwise. Now is not the time to cast blame on one group of people or another because of their propensity for being diagnosed as HIV-positive. We are all passengers on one ship — the human race. That means that we must care for those who are healthy and those who have compromised immune systems. In the Black community, we need everyone to be an advocate. Because while World AIDS Day is an annual event, fighting for life when you are HIV-positive is a daily struggle.