Today is World AIDS Day. Throughout the world, over 30 million people are living with one of the most deadly diseases --- HIV and AIDS. It is likely that you know someone who has contracted the virus or who has already died from it. Because of the stigma of AIDS, one of my cousins, passed away several years ago in loneliness and isolation from our family.
Without giving us an opportunity to say a loving good-bye to him, his mother selfishly had him buried far away from us. No one else, not even his father, knew what happened to him. It is a pain that I still carry and anger that I have yet to overcome towards her.
Not only did my cousin die a horrible death, he was also ashamed to disclose his homosexuality to the family. While I cannot fully understand how he must have felt, it was just another stupid attempt to conceal the obvious.
I so want to say to him, "Hello cousin, tell us something we don't already know." I would have hugged him and told him that we love all of him even if we don't agree with his lifestyle. I just can't imagine the pain and loneliness he must have endured. It was all so unnecessary.
I know that my cousin probably wanted to avoid the attempts to "straighten" him out. His lifestyle choice would have wrought the same lectures heaped upon the "wayward" relatives who choose to "live in sin" without the benefit of marriage. I love my family but some of their actions are as predictable as sunrise.
All things considered, my cousin forgot how our family always has each other's back. He forgot that we don't always agree but we're always family. What is more ironic is that he could have learned that he was not alone; there are other members of the family that are homosexual also. What a sad end to a promising life.
HIV/AIDS is not a homosexual disease so don't foolishly think you can't get it if you're heterosexual. Although HIV/AIDS is prevalent among blacks, you can get it if you're not black. Regardless of your ethnicity or sexual preference, you are susceptible to contracting HIV/AIDS if you engage in sexual activities, are an intravenous drug user or require a blood transfusion. If you are an infant, you can get HIV from the breast milk of an infected mother.
Don't let HIV/AIDS break up your family and remember that no ever has to suffer through this disease alone. Most of all, to my cousin, I love you, man.
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Step Into Africa With the World Vision Experience: AIDS
Can you survive the journey of a child? The Experience is an interactive exhibit that will transport you to the heart of Africa ... and into the life of a child.
Visit the Experience Web site and watch the trailer...