Monday, November 21, 2005


Thursday, December 1, 2005, is International HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, also known as World AIDS Day. On December 12, I will acknowledge the 20th anniversary of learning that I am HIV positive. This is my annual note to remind me and others that we are fortunate to be alive and that there is much work to be done. Please wear your red ribbons on 1 December to show support for your family, friends and compassionate strangers who are involved with HIV/AIDS. This is, indeed, all of us…throughout the world.

AVERT.ORG estimates that as many as 3.5 million lives were lost to HIV/AIDS last year. Other estimates state that more than 29 million people have died of AIDS since 1981. The most frightening statistics involve new infections and AIDS orphans. AVERT.ORG estimates that there are over 12 million AIDS orphans in Africa alone and that over 6,000 people are infected with HIV daily. Current estimates indicate that as many as 44.3 million people are living with HIV worldwide and that only 1 in 6 people living with AIDS in the developed world are receiving therapies to fight the virus. I admit that I have taken the worst-case scenarios in citing all of these statistics because that is within the realm of possibility and to anyone infected, infection can be the worst-case scenario.

We must continue to educate about the spread of HIV, and perhaps, about the consequences of HIV. Many of the newly infected are too young to remember the specter of death that AIDS used to be. It is a fine line to walk. On one hand, we need to make the horrors of this disease apparent to those who are unaware of how ugly it can be, but we also need to make sure that those living with AIDS are treated compassionately and with respect. We must give hope to survivors and prevent new infections at the same time.

For so many people in the world, treatment is simply not an option when even the cost to test for antibodies to the virus is prohibitively expensive. We must make all medications more affordable and more accessible to everyone. Equally, we need to pressure our politicians to make money available to support AIDS Drug Assistance Programs for indigent people more accessible and fully funded to meet the needs of the community. In North Carolina, USA, you must live below a poverty level income of $12K/year to qualify and the program is capped for new applicants because of lack of funds. When one medication alone can cost up to $1K/month and you make less that $12K/year, something has to be done.

Research for vaccines and less toxic medications must be continued. There is evidence that many of the people who are taking the multi-therapy cocktails are beginning to develop resistance to one or more of their medications. When other medications prove too toxic for an individual, that person can suddenly be faced with a limited arsenal of drugs with which to work.

I feel we should also drop the use of the term “cocktail”, originally borrowed from cancer treatment. That term has been used successfully by pharmaceutical marketing, inadvertently trivializing the progression to the horror of AIDS. People are not as apt to be diligent about protecting themselves when they feel that can have a “cocktail” and everything will be ok. If we were to call it “permanent non-stop chemotherapy” as it truly is, then they might feel differently.

Please recall that African-American woman aged between 25 and 44 are the fastest growing demographic group for AIDS in the US. Because of homophobia, men who have sex with men do not identity as gay and consequently do not see themselves as at risk for the disease. If they then go on to have unsafe sex with their wives or girlfriends, then they are putting those women at risk. To quote the film American Beauty, “Never underestimate the power of denial.” In fact, according to one AIDS clinician, a 21 year old African-American male in North Carolina who has sex with men has a 1 in 10 chance of becoming infected within one year.

Finally, we must not forget those of our friends who have lost their fight against this disease. My prayers and thoughts go out for them and to those who continue to struggle with AIDS and the cancers that are starting to show up in long-term survivors.

Persuade, contribute, volunteer!

In the memory of my friends:

Ralph, North Carolina, USA
Jorge, Havana, Cuba and Washington, DC
Donald, Washington, DC and Raleigh, NC
Kenny, North Carolina, USA
Jamie, North Carolina, USA
Jim, Chicago, IL and Durham, NC
Yorgo, Greece and Washington, DC
Chuck, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
François, Paris, France
Daniel, Paris, France
Thiérry, Paris, France
Thomas, South Carolina, USA
Randy, North Carolina, USA
Charly, North Carolina, USA
Johnny, Tennessee, USA
Dip, Washington, DC, USA

Useful links:

Alliance of AIDS Services Carolina

Evening With Friends


HopeChild Sponsorship

Donna Kline's AIDS Marathon Donation Page

The Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt

The ONE Campaign

Project Inform

World AIDS Day



Anonymous your kansas reader said...

Remembering my dear friend Loren, Kansas City, 1985. Thanks for the reminder.

11/21/2005 11:45:00 PM  
Blogger Lilly said...

hello ron, thanks for posting about such an important day.

11/22/2005 07:52:00 AM  
Blogger Ron Hudson said...

Hi KC reader and Lilly!

Thank you for your comments.

KC, I am sorry about Loren. There is nothing that can be said to make a loss any easier. My thoughts are with you and Loren, even if this did happen 20 years ago.

Lilly, I couldn't find an email address for you, but wanted to tell you that while in London this summer making my documentary, I met a Thai transvestite who runs a restaurant in London's West End. She does shows and sends all the money to a village of AIDS orphans in Thailand. What a wonderful soul she was. Thank you for writing me from Thailand.


11/22/2005 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

Those numbers are shocking, and people keep trying to forget about the humanity behind them. AIDS came around just as I was settling down to one guy, and I know that I am lucky that I was spared that particular disease. I lost touch with many of my gay friends from that period of my life, and I often wonder if they escaped it as well.

11/27/2005 08:59:00 AM  
Blogger Lilly said...

ron, i'm not in thailand. just more internet nonsense. actually i'm in greensboro. lived in raleigh for 14 years.
when you feel like nonsense, post to me baby. lol.
*remembering my best friend Kenneth Wayne Strickland
4/20/65 - 2/8/00.*
thanks again ron. sorry about the confusion on my location.

11/28/2005 07:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this Ron!

While this is a day to remember and honor our loved ones, it is also a day to empower people to take action around their health and get tested. For folks in Carolina, we'll be offering free, confidential, rapid HIV testing at UNC. Check out the press release below for more info:
UNC-Chapel Hill Observes World AIDS Day with Campus Events Tonight and Thursday

World AIDS Day, December 1, marks a time for the global community to commemorate those lost, celebrate progress and renew our commitment to fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic. UNC is hosting a series of events throughout the week to raise awareness of the effects HIV on our local community.

Tonight (Wednesday, November 30) at 9PM, members of the Carolina community will gather in The Pit for a candlelight vigil that will feature a mixed media presentation, testimonials and spoken word performances by members of UNC’s Ebony Readers/Onyx Theater.

On Thursday, December 1, free, confidential rapid HIV testing will be offered at the Student Recreation Center from 11AM-3PM and from 5PM-8PM. The test does not involve needles or the collection of blood, and results of the test are ready in 20 minutes. The group sponsoring the event offered HIV testing during Chapel Hill’s Festifall, during which over 150 individuals were tested.

The World AIDS Day events are sponsored by Student Health Action Coalition, Department of Housing, Center for Healthy Student Behaviors, School of Medicine Division of Infectious Diseases/Project STYLE, LIFE AIDS, and the Olde Campus Upper Quad Community.

Wednesday, Nov. 30th: "AIDS Awareness Candlelight Vigil"
-9pm in The Pit
-Refreshments and spoken word by Ebony Readers/Onyx Theater

Thursday, Dec. 1st: "Get Tested With A Friend"
-11am-3pm & 5pm-8pm in the SRC
-FREE Rapid HIV Testing (NO blood, NO needles, 20 minutes to get results, confidential, 1 on 1 counseling)

Please direct any inquiries to one of the contacts below:

Danielle Hailey

Student Health Action Coalition

(919) 357-1045

11/30/2005 11:56:00 PM  
Blogger Ron Hudson said...

Thanks, Danielle...sorry, I slept late today, but hopefully we didn't miss too many potential readers. I am sorry also I missed the vigil last night. Next year, right?....

Much love to you my friend.


12/01/2005 11:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Andrea aka poisonbabydoll@aol or dewittgirl4@yahoo said...

Today I found out a very special man who helped me when I found out I was positive past away. Nic Dangerfield from yahoo hiv chat rm 1&2 thank you and I will never forget the kind words and faith you gave me . Life has changed so much in the last 2 years but thanks to this day and people like you I understand this is just a new start at a new life. Thank you and God Bless!!!

12/01/2005 10:38:00 PM  

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