How does one break through the clutter of messages that has appeared around the topic of AIDS for so many decades now to say, "AIDS Is Not Over"?
Would it help to gain your attention if I lessened your fears by saying that AIDS is not the mysterious threat it once was with new drugs flooding the market to trick the virus into greater submission?
But in reality, while it is managed, it is far from over and it is still a matter that needs to be discussed because of what it removes from our city: life.
For those folks most vulnerable to this disease (and it touches all of us now, not just a select group), we have the Grand Rapids Red Project and AIDS Inc: Advocacy, Information, and Diverse Services, who will be filling your inbox over these next few days with requests from your friends and family members asking for a donation for their annual 5K AIDS Walk + Run this weekend.
This yearly event will once again seek to celebrate the life we have been given and ask with utmost humility on behalf of those who no longer are with us to request that you remember life is precious.
If there was one strong takeaway from the most recent HBO and Emmy-award-winning movie The Normal Heart
(based on the 1986 play of the same name) by Larry Kramer, it is that while the disease has had a very cruel past, grassroots change in the form of medical relief finally arrived when an elected government would not listen to the pleas of those dying in the streets and hospital back rooms. It is hard to recall these painful memories for so many who were seeking answers in a world before the web's proliferation or even AOL chat rooms.
We have met many challenges as a community and the advances we are making ensure that the work we do here is still vital in keeping people alive and healthy. Until you have watched someone you love die, I doubt you will ever understand the pain of this kind of senseless loss.
Together we can make a difference in the lives of our locals who need us the most to walk and run this Saturday. Come out and deliver the message that AIDS is not over, but with a little push from our community we can put it on notice that its days are numbered.
This year’s registration donation is $25 to support the work of The Grand Rapids Red Project.