Friday, December 2, 2011

World AIDS Day - Detroit Edition

Usually I write a post about a recent craft, or cooking incident right before I go to bed and schedule it to post the next morning.

Last night I sat at my computer and I couldn't bring myself to write clever quips about cooking or sewing.

Yesterday I was so moved - that I had to share this with you NOW.

Yesterday was World AIDS Day. This has always been an important day in my life because I've lost multiple family members as well as friends to this hideous disease. I also know numerous people living with HIV today.

A great friend of mine organized a huge event commemorating the 30 day anniversary of HIV/AIDS in Detroit. The video below discusses the event and it's goals. Please watch.

When I arrived to the event with my sister, Sly, we immediately went straight to the AIDS quilt. Many family and friends of people who have lost a loved one to HIV/AIDS related have made a piece of quilt commemorating the life that was lost and it is added to the AIDS quilt. You can find more about that here.

It was breathtaking to see each individual story, to see all of the pain and suffering that people have gone through.

After we took all that in, Sly and I were lucky enough to pose for a photo for the NOH8 campaign. We have wanted to do that for a very long time. I'll share the photos with you when we get them.

The next big portion of the event was the screening of the film, Bad Blood: A Cautionary Tale.

Here is the trailer:

This is the second time I have seen this documentary, and it is hard to watch. This is especially true for my family and so many friends.

I am a carrier of Hemophilia. My sister is a symptomatic carrier of Hemophilia, meaning although her genetics don't say she is a full-blown Hemophiliac, she bleeds internally as if she was. Although I don't bleed as intensely, I still have some minor issues due to bleeding and could pass the disease to my children. Hemophilia is a bleeding disorder where one's blood does not clot effectively or sometimes not at all.

There is a misconception, sometimes taught in science classes in middle and high school, that if a hemophiliac gets a small cut that they'll bleed to death. Not true. The issue is with internal bleeding in major joints.

There is a medicine, called Factor, that is given intravenously to those with this disorder, that can manage the bleeding and pain. This was originally derived from the plasma in human blood. In the 1980's, during the AIDS epidemic, this plasma became tainted with the HIV/AIDS virus and 80% of Hemophiliacs contracted the disease.

Bad Blood chronicles how this happened, how it could have been prevented by the pharmaceutical companies and government, and the repercussions. This documentary will air on PBS soon - be sure to watch it.

As of today, 60 Million people have been infected. 25 Million have died. 7800 people are living with HIV/AIDS in the city of Detroit alone.

Read that sentence again. This is a huge epidemic. Why aren't people talking about it anymore? How did we forget about it?

World AIDS Day Detroit and and many other campaigns are working tirelessly to eliminate any more needless deaths, infections, and any discrimination that comes along with living with this disease.

The last portion of the event was the keynote speaker, Jeanne White-Ginder.

She is the mother of Ryan White. He was the first Hemophiliac diagnosed with AIDS. She discussed her family's story. If you're not familiar with Ryan or his story - you can read about it here. (Please note I am not a huge supporter of Wikipedia, but it's an accurate, quick overview.)

There's also a great article here about our event and Jeanne White-Ginder.

I was lucky enough to hear Ryan's story straight from his mother. Their story, from the Hemophilia diagnosis all the way through his death was incredibly moving. Ryan gave AIDS a face. All he wanted to do was go to school and educate people about the disease. I am so sad he is not with us today.

I was especially moved because his story could have easily belonged to my uncle. He passed away in 1989 at the age of 13 due to HIV/AIDS complications. I found myself crying throughout her whole story, but at one particular moment because I realized I had no memories of my uncle, and such few memories of my grandfather. My grandpa died of complications with HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis when I was 9 years old. It's not fair.

This is why World AIDS Day is so important. We can no longer forget. We must keep fighting and get to zero. Zero new infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths.

If you are able to make a donation to World AIDS Day - you can do it HERE.

If you can't - volunteer for the cause. Or spread awareness. Do Something.

This must end with our generation.


  1. Thanks for sharing your heart Ash. Wish I could have been there.

  2. Too important not to share. Thanks for reading. There's always next year...