I was hesitant to accept the invitation to offer my artwork for auction at Art of Paws again this year. I haven’t had much time to work on my art since my youngest child was born and I did not want to feel rushed or not be able to enter work I was proud of.
They reminded me, again, that I still hadn’t signed up and I thought about it.
I remember when HIV/AIDS was new. This was before AZT. It was a death sentence back then. You didn’t make it out alive.
By the mid to late 80’s, I was an informed child, my mom worked in medicine and she told us how HIV/AIDS was passed along.
It wasn’t passed on by hugging someone or shaking their hand. We knew it was mostly passed on by blood, sex, intravenous drug use.
I remember my dad walking us to school and we came around the corner and there were people shouting and they had their signs on sticks while they marched around the front of the school.
I asked my dad, “What are those people doing?”
My dad said, “Ignore them, they are stupid.”
We walked passed them everyday…but I could read.
They didn’t want the AIDS kid in our school. They were protesting his arrival.
We knew he was coming and my mom told us that we didn’t need to be scared of him and you can be his friend. “Just don’t touch his blood.”
The teachers explained to every class how we could avoid “catching” HIV/AIDS. The child came to our school and the protests eventually ended.
My brother befriended him quickly as they were in the same class and he wasn’t ignorant to the virus.
My brother, sister, and I would walk with him down to his house after school. I think we felt protective of him. We knew the parents didn’t want him there and the kids weren’t always nice to him. He was a human being, though, and at that time he had a death sentence. He needed that support, we felt.
He eventually moved away, but I later found out he lived to be 27, which, back in the 80’s, was thought to have been impossible.
I hope people accepted him more through the years. Did he get that emotional support he needed as he knew he faced his death sentence? Did he have to spend his life as a pariah? Was he accepted? Did he have to hide his truth?
I thought about him and those picket signs and I said to myself, “Yes, I will donate again. I may not have the time, but I will make the time…for Adam and all of those people that were scared and shunned back when HIV/AIDS was a new disease. For all the people that live with this disease now.”
I have known others with the virus along the years and one thing I know is that they need all the emotional support they can get. Art of Paws does that for them by making it possible for them to keep their pets when medication and their virus makes it impossible to feed and care for them.
Animals are great friends and offer much needed emotional support.
HIV/AIDS isn’t going away anytime soon, though we are getting closer to a cure all the time. 33 million people have died from AIDS. Please remember them when the auction starts up again this year.