They Did NOT Die in Vain

I too was moved by the documentary "Sex in an Epidemic" by Jean Carlomusto. I have used the phrase "no glove no love" over and over and over again. To see the origins of the phrase, unfurled in banners at the baseball game brought new meaning to the use of the word "glove". I watch the documentary in the first showing and then moved to the second showing to watch it again. Act up indeed acted up. There was nothing polite about it. People were dying and being ignored by our government. Ms. Manners had no place in the room. Screaming and shouting, marching and protesting, lying in the streets, anything was accepted if it got the attention of anyone, someone, who could respond to this epidemic that left thousands dead before the first tentative responses. Image after image of advocates and health educators were shown who died from AIDS. The sorrow in the room was evident, as heard by the muffled sobs and painful commentary of those who lived through the early days. Those who have been silent, unable to tell their stories, left permanently marked from caring for so many who died - in their arms. Those who died were lovingly nutured until death by an army of caretakers who took to the streets to shout out their anguish and fear. But there were also many who died alone, left untouched by friends, families and health care workers who were afraid of the unknown disease.

One movie goer lamented that they had died in vain. He felt nothing had changed. Many, many in the room were horrified that he spoke those words. Every warrior who died paved the way for the next, and to even utter the words "in vain" might mean that everything done in the past was for naught. That is not true. We have anti-retroviral medicines that slow the path of the virus that used to be responsible for almost daily funerals in the early days. Money is allocated to buy the medications for those who can't afford them. Research is being conducted on many level to provide vaccines, new medications, microbicides and hope to one day stem the tide of this infectious disease. Vertical transmission of HIV between Mother and Child is at an all time low.

But I think I know what he was trying to say. Why are there over 50,000 new cases of HIV every year when all these people fought so hard to get us where we are today. Why is AIDS the number one cause of death for Blacks according to the CDC

These are painful questions with painful answers and illustrate that our work is not yet done. There is new work to be done, different work and more of the same. We will continue to build on the legacy left by those who died and continue to "act up" and "fight back" as taught to us by so many who did not DIE IN VAIN.


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