Today is World AIDS Day. It always interests me that things like AIDS get a day. AIDS isn’t for just a day. It’s forever. We think about things for a day, and then, if they don’t affect us personally, tomorrow we stop thinking about them. I guess that’s the way human nature is.
I first heard about AIDS back in 1985. I think a lot of people first heard about it then, because it’s when the first famous person died of it. Handsome actor and leading man Rock Hudson was taken from us on October 2 1985 at the age of 60. Cause of death: AIDS. Before that, a few people had died of it. But nobody we knew. AIDS was highly stigmatised. It was something that came from monkeys, came from gay people, came from everywhere and anywhere, but it was something sordid that WE didn’t do. Although the death of Rock Hudson due to AIDS was tragic, it gave a friendly name and face to AIDS, and made us realise that if it could happen to Rock, it could happen to us. Rock Hudson was homosexual, which fuelled the supposition that AIDS was a disease for homosexuals but stated that he felt he may have contracted the disease through a blood transfusion in 1981, which still stands today as his lover did not contract the disease.
Rock Hudson’s admission to having AIDS and death due to it saw much funding being invested into AIDS research. Rock Hudson, by being infected, and dying of AIDS, gave a name and a face to a disease and unwittingly has saved and helped many many lives.
There is another celebrity whose name is irrevocably linked with the condition – not through having it himself, but through his Foundation – The Elton John AIDS Foundation.
From their website:
The Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) was established in the United States in 1992 by Sir Elton John, and is headquartered in New York City. In 1993, Sir Elton also established his Foundation as a registered charity in the United Kingdom, headquartered in London. These two organizations function as separate entities with their own distinct grant-making portfolios, but both pursue the same mission – to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS through innovative HIV prevention programs, efforts to eliminate stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS, and direct treatment, care, and support services for people living with HIV/AIDS. The Foundation supports this mission through proceeds from special events, cause-related marketing projects, and voluntary contributions (large and small) from individuals, corporations, and foundations.
Read Elton John’s letter here and click here to donate.
Over the years many many advances have been made in the fight against AIDS. With the help of treatments available today, AIDS is something that can be managed. But awareness and funding is still necessary. So please spread the word and support. I remember in the early days how long it took for test results to come in. It must have been agonising to wait months and months to hear the result of an AIDS test. Today that’s not true. The results are immediately available. So get yourself tested. Blood transfusions are also not risky any more thanks to the tests that are done.
This is a sad day in popular culture, as today another handsome (and young) actor passed away although not of AIDS. We have all just learned of the death of Paul Walker, the star of the Fast and Furious franchise in a terrible car accident. Let’s make the difference we can in other people’s lives by supporting foundations such as the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
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