Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Black Women, Black Men and HIV

By Dwan Abrams - YourBlackWorld.com

I learned a long time ago that when death comes knocking, there’s nowhere to hide. When the AIDS epidemic hit and spread faster than a prostitute’s legs, I remember feeling a sense of panic and urgency. Panic, because the disease affected anyone and everyone. And urgency due to an overwhelming desire to know. Like most people, I was scared…more like horrified at the thought of possibly having contracted a deadly disease due to something I had done.

I’ll never forget the day that Ervin “Magic” Johnson announced on national television that he was HIV positive. My heart sank, and I cried so hard my tear ducts became dry. Although I was devastated by the news, I couldn’t help but think about my uncle. My uncle was an openly gay male. I became physically ill thinking that he could be infected with the virus that causes AIDS.

A few years later, my fear became a reality. Not for me, but for my uncle. I remember that he had quit his job and moved to the same city as me. When I saw him, there was something different about him. Not only did he physically look different, he started behaving with a true sense of urgency. Although he never confided in me about his condition, I believe he knew that he was terminally ill. The truth was he was in denial. It wasn’t until he began to experience flu-like symptoms that he went to the hospital. That’s when the doctor confirmed that he had full-blown AIDS. Even then, he was ashamed and full of remorse. He didn’t want the family to know, especially his nieces.

Not long after my uncle turned thirty-two, the virus began to take over his body. An MRI revealed that he had a mass on his brain, which impacted his speech and ability to walk. After being confined to a wheelchair and requiring the constant care of a nurse, he was placed in hospice.

“Your uncle died today,” were the words my mother left on my voicemail.
I felt as if someone had sucker-punched me in the gut and left me winded. An invisible vacuum must have sucked the air out of the room, because I thought I was going to suffocate. It didn’t matter that his chances for survival were bleak. I refused to accept his prognosis. I fasted, prayed and pleaded with God for a miracle. There was no miracle, and I was grief-stricken.

The same morning that I received the news about my uncle’s demise, I got dressed, crying all the while, and went to work. After running a red light, I nearly joined my uncle. Because of my tears flowing like a river, my vision was blurred. I arrived at the office, eyes red and puffy, and went to my desk. I couldn’t stop crying. Unable to concentrate, I went back home.

Admittedly, I was having a difficult time. Later that evening, while sobbing in my pillow, I felt my hair being lifted off my shoulders and plop back down. Immediately, I stopped balling and looked around the room. No one was there. I didn’t feel afraid. Rather, there was a comforting presence. Suddenly, I heard my uncle’s voice as clearly as if he were standing in the same room as me.
“Little niece, don’t cry for me,” he said. “I’m happier than I’ve ever been. Now stop crying and go put some ice on your eyes.”

Although I missed him terribly, the grief became more bearable. Having that encounter helped me to understand that we are spiritual beings having a physical experience. Energy doesn’t die, it transcends. At his funeral, I shared my experience. Later, I found out that lots of people were comforted by my testimony.
For a while, I had vivid dreams about my uncle. I even participated in AIDS Walk Atlanta. I didn’t want other people to go through what my uncle went through.
Ten years has passed since my uncle died, and AIDS is still an epidemic. Recently, I visited his gravesite for the first time since his burial. I introduced him to my four-year old daughter, his great-niece. I realized that I really did introduce them because a few months later, my daughter came to me with her notebook in hand. She had drawn a picture of her uncle. She didn’t know his name, or at least she didn’t tell me. In her artwork, the man had long hair and wore a crown. She proceeded to tell me that he was no longer with us and that he wanted to be a girl. My jaw dropped. I was shocked and skeptical at first. Then she informed me that while he was in high school, he wore a dress. After high school, he got married to a boy.
Everything she said was true, but she had no way of knowing any of it, unless he had told her. My daughter is young, and I’ve never had a discussion with her, or around her, about same-sex relationships. Thankfully, she wasn’t afraid and neither was I, especially when she told me that he hugged her.

Hearing about my daughter’s encounter with our deceased uncle reminded me that there is still so much work to do regarding combating HIV/AIDS. It amazes me that although the media has done a good job bringing awareness to the disease, so many people are still getting infected. I feel as though I have been personally commissioned to help eradicate this pandemic. Each and every life lost to AIDS related complications is too many. We need to do everything we can to stop the spread of this horrific disease. If anyone thinks that HIV/AIDS is limited to homosexuals, intravenous drug users or morally corrupt individuals, think again.

The United States vital statistics found on the “Until There’s a Cure” Web site suggest otherwise. The following stats are disturbing.
 An estimated one million people are currently living with HIV in the United States, with approximately 40,000 new infections occurring each year.
 70 percent of these new infections occur in men and 30 percent occur in women.
 By race, 54 percent of the new infections in the United States occur among African Americans, and 64 percent of the new infections in women occur in African American women.
 75 percent of the new infections in women are heterosexually transmitted.
 Half of all new infections in the United States occur in people 25 years of age or younger.
The worldwide statics are even more alarming.
 Over 22 million people have died from AIDS.
 Over 42 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, and 74 percent of these infected people live in sub-Saharan Africa.
 Over 19 million women are living with HIV/AIDS.
 By the year 2010, five countries (Ethiopia, Nigeria, China, India, and Russia) with 40 percent of the world's population will add 50 to 75 million infected people to the worldwide pool of HIV disease.
 There are 14,000 new infections every day (95 percent in developing countries). HIV/AIDS is a "disease of young people" with half of the 5 million new infections each year occurring among people ages 15 to 24.
 The UN estimates that, currently, there are 14 million AIDS orphans and that by 2010 there will be 25 million.

No one deserves to contract HIV/AIDS, regardless of their lifestyle. When death comes knocking, it doesn’t care about age, race, nationality, religion, sexual preference, gender or social status. What will you do to make a change?

1 comment:

Mauris Emeka said...

The AIDS virus is a lipid coated virus. Research shows that the body can convert lauric fatty acid into something scientists call monolaurin, and monolaurin has been shown to destroy lipid coated viruses. So where can someone who is challenged with HIV/AIDS get some lauric fatty acid? One answer is that lauric fatty acid is a principal component of unrefined virgin coconut oil. If someone consumes enough unrefined virgin coconut oil (around 4 to 7 tablespoons of it a day for a period of time) this will enable the body to produce its own antiviral in the form of monolaurin whcih,in turn, can destroy lipid coated AIDS viruses.

Most readers will ask: 'what is the proof that this works to destroy the AIDS virus'? While it is true that a small scale study of this was done in the Phillipines, the fact is that the main evidence that this works comes from anecdotal evidence. In sum, the proof that this works can be established by whomever is challenged with this devastating disease called AIDS. All they need to do is consume the unrefined virgin coconut oil from fresh coconuts, follow some simple dietary guidelines relativie to eating a lot more raw fruits and vegetable and nuts, and simply watch their body become living proof of the effectiveness of this regimen.

It's time we stopped waiting for the discovery of more drugs that are always very expensive,toxic, and causing of horrendous side effects. Also, the AIDS virus cannot develop a resistance to unrefined virgin coconut oil, because in reality this oil is a food and not a drug. A naturally occuring food (i.e. coconut) and the unrefined oil that's part of that food goes a long ways towards addressing the problem of AIDS, and it does it without making the body more toxic and and without bringing on bad side effects. But don't take my word for it, if you're challenged with HIV/AIDS, prove the effectiveness of this regimen for yourself. In doing so, you have nothing to lose and much to gain.