KNOWLEDGE IS THE KEY THIS SLIDE SHOW HAS BEEN CREATED TO HELP COMBAT THE STEREOTYPES ASSOCIATED WITH HIV/AIDS THE REAL FACES OF HIV/AIDS
MICAH This is Micah and she was born with HIV. Today she is 15 yrs old and for the most part leads a normal life. She must take medication every day but in her own words, “I don’t let my HIV affect me in anyway. I live the life of a normal teen. I have many friends and have all the fun in the world. HIV doesn’t have to limit your life.”
RYAN This is Ryan and he had AIDS. Ryan contracted HIV from a contaminated blood transfusion. Diagnosed in 1984, Ryan became the poster child for the fight against AIDS discrimination after he was expelled from his school for having the disease. Unfortunately, Ryan lost his battle with AIDS on April 8, 1990.
TARA This is Tara and she has HIV. Tara was diagnosed when she was just 16 years old. She was a typical teenager. She had many friends and an active social life. However, Tara was sexually active and was having unprotected sex with her boyfriend as well as three other boys prior to he current boyfriend. Tara was tested for HIV after becoming ill with what she thought was a cold.
MagicJohnson This is Magic Johnson, one of the most famous faces of the fight against AIDS discrimination. Magic was diagnosed in 1991 and admitted he contracted the disease by having unprotected sex with numerous women. Following his diagnosis, Magic vowed he would dedicate his life to battling the deadly disease. In 1992 Magic was chosen to compete in the summer Olympics as part of the “Dream Team”. Magic used the opportunity to inspire HIV-positive people around the world.
RUSS’ STORY Russ died from complications of AIDS in 1993. Russ was a kind and compassionate man who was full of life, love and laughter. Russ was also my uncle and contracted the disease before doctors had truly identified HIV/AIDS. When he first became ill doctors believed his illness to be multiple sclerosis, so for years my uncle believed he was dealing with MS. Little did he know he was slowing dying from an unknown virus. After the disease was identified and a screen test was developed, my uncle learned he was HIV positive. At the time my uncle was diagnosed and due to the stigma associated with the disease, my brothers and I were kept from the truth till years after his death. However, my parents did not prevent us from spending time with my uncle. Russ still came for holidays and birthdays until he became too ill to travel. At the time of my uncle’s diagnosis there was no treatment for the disease and unfortunately my uncle passed away in May of 1993. At thattime we were told he died from a brain tumor, however I learned the truth when I was 14. Discovering the truth did not change or taint my memories of my uncle. To me he will always remain the man who searched all over the state of Michigan when I split my chin open to find me the blonde haired mermaid doll I wanted, and the man who loved and adored me from the time I was born till the time of his passing. I share my story with you today for two reasons. One, to show you that you don’t have to be a drug addict or a homosexual to contract the disease, and two, to show you how important getting tested is. If the test for HIV/AIDS and drug treatments had existed when my uncle was diagnosed there is a good chance that he would be the one sharing his story with you today instead of me. It is with him in mind that I urge you all to get tested because with today’s advancements, HIV/AIDS doesn’t have to mean a death sentence like it did for my uncle. Getting tested is nothing to be ashamed of, in fact it could be the smartest thing you ever do. So please if you are sexually active get tested.
Faces ofHIV/AIDS HIV/AIDS does not discriminate. The disease cannot detect gender, race, or sexual orientation. In fact, every nine and a half minutes someone in the US contracts HIV. We as a country have two options. One, we can continue to do what we do now and do nothing to help stop the spread of the disease by continuing to convince ourselves that unless we are a member or the gay community or a drug addict we have nothing to worry about. Or, we can wake up and see the disease as it really is and protect ourselves through education, understanding and by getting tested.