World AIDS Day Archives - The Jose Vilson

World AIDS Day

Be Somebody

by Jose Vilson on December 1, 2009

in Jose

Kings of Leon

Kings of Leon

Everytime I come across December 1st, I think about the millions of people across the world who have constant reminders of their impending doom, and that no matter what they do or how well they keep themselves in shape, their impending mortality becomes not only more certain but with a shorter timeline than average. Oftentimes, they’re stripped from a certain aspect of their lives or dreams because they physically and mentally have an upper limit that doesn’t allow them to think past 3, 4, 10 years. If that.

Rather than bringing it upon ourselves to look at this situation fatalistically, it should inspire us to try and live the best lives possible. While many of us readers don’t have AIDS or other debilitating diseases, we still need to consider our own time span to exert as much energy and peace into a world lacking it. In a major way.

Lately, in my teaching, I’ve tried to find more effective methods of disciplining my kids before they go into high schools where no one’s going to speak to them when they mess up. Or slip up. Or drip out. Or drop out. Until we have systems in place that care more for humans and not the bottom line, this may always be the case. However, the biggest thing I’ve learned since taking on the job is that, regardless of what may happen to a child after I’ve taught them, they eventually live as occupants of this Earth, contributing positively no matter what their station.

I came to this interesting conclusion after reflecting on the very first class I had. As I’m seeing them grow into their own men and women on MySpace / Facebook, I’m getting a good understanding of the sorts of seeds I need to plant to make sure the ones I have under my wing now understand their global impact. Or so I hope. While many of the graduates thank me in part for their emotional development, there’s always that question about what more can I give?

Of course, as this is running through my head, I’m still far away from my eventual goal of becoming the best teacher I possibly can, but that goes with everything I do. I need to be somebody before I can help someone else be …

Mr. V, who remembers World AIDS Day even when it’s not December 4th …

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The World Is Not Enough (World AIDS Day 2008)

by Jose Vilson on December 1, 2008

in Jose

World AIDS Day 2008

World AIDS Day 2008

AIDS is not a disease in isolation.

My first consciousness of AIDS didn’t come from Magic Johnson’s infamous press conference, per se. Around my way, the acquired immunodeficiency virus was a deadly version of the kooties. Kids would run around tagging each other with “the big, bad AIDS,” and some even alleged that the most unpopular girl in the class had AIDS and all sorts of infections just for the sake of ostracizing her. In other words, we hadn’t been taught the severity of the virus nor would we take AIDS / HIV seriously until someone who everyone identified as “cool,” “heterosexual,” and “worth our time” (kids can be so trifling) contracted it and came out on national television.

Thus, the televised conference of Magic coming out with HIV shook many of us who had previously pegged this wicked disease as strictly for gay men (again, completely uninformed). This coincided with my membership into the Milliken Boys (and some Girls) Club, where they taught some of the older members about sex, a series of workshops I found fun and useful at the same time. However, looking around, these ladies and gentlemen also tended to be the more intelligent people in the house, and while I think we needed to know, there was a much larger population downstairs who needed the information that much more.

Magic Johnson on Time Magazine, February 12th, 1996

Magic Johnson on Time Magazine, February 12th, 1996

Because they weren’t exposed.

Because I saw personally how their lives had been affected by the typical ailments of the hood: early pregnancy, drug addiction, homicide and suicide, and increasing drop-out rates.

And the higher I went in education, the more exposed I was to the dangers of the AIDS virus. In high school, a man came to visit us and show us the 32 or so pills he had to take daily just to stay alive. In college, my Latino organization ran workshops and went to workshops discussing sex, and asked the health center to provide us with as many facts as possible.

AIDS, for those that never made it to that workshop in Milliken, was just another “problem” to deal with rather than a serious pandemic, and the more some social forces began to advocate for prevention and destigmatization over the last 2 decades (public service announcements, musicians, philanthropists), the more other social forces began to just peg it on specific communities (gay men, down-low men, Black women, prostitutes, the whole continent of Africa). Even Magic went from blaming others for his unfortunate and irresponsible sexual behavior to “not having HIV anymore,” or letting people think so, which in turn lends itself to a lack of responsibility on the part of anyone watching.

The impact of Magic Johnson getting the virus transformed the worldwide perception of AIDS, but for dudes or girls in the hood, it didn’t make many of them any more eager to ask the pertinent questions about their sexual health history or wait before making that next big step. By no means am I a sexual conservative, but after all I’ve seen, I really have a profound understanding of the “hard lesson;” if the person doesn’t experience it, then there’s no real connection for them.

We cannot waver in our interest for a cure for AIDS can waver in a time when we desperately need to find cures. At some point, cures can drive down the costs of medicines purchased, sold, and distributed for a costly disease. Information is the #1 deterrent against AIDS. Conspiracy theories aside (because you know how much I love those), I also think the national governments play a role in the research and education of children all across the world. It’s not just a “Black” issue or a “Latino” issue; it’s a world issue.

When it comes to this disease, the world simply acknowledging its existence is not enough. It’s not enough to wear the ribbon and wear red. It’s not enough for us to write blogs and tweets, and watch TV specials on HIV / AIDS. We need a wave of concentration on it, before we have any more “learning the hard way” how dangerous the disease is. We already have 33 million of those.

For more information, please refer to the World AIDS Day 2008 site.

Jose, who wonders what was your personal experience with AIDS /HIV …

p.s. – Thanks to Yobachi for getting us organized around this salient issue.

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