By ANTHONY JOHNSON
Now that December 1st and World AIDS Day has passed, I can rest and reflect on the reason why after almost 17 years of being diagnosed HIV positive, I am able to CELEBRATE it today. It is because many amazing men, women, and children fought the fear and stigma associated with HIV and AIDS by our government and peers. These people, these advocates, these angels have given freely their time, their energy, and their hearts to assure that generations to come would not have to suffer the fate of those who came before. I wish I could list all the names of the men, women, AND children who have fought for my right to live a healthy, happy, productive life. However, there is not enough paper in the world to list all who have fought over the last 30 years nor can any monument do them justice. Their unwavering dedication and courage forced the government and healthcare providers to provide services that helped individuals like me receive care so desperately needed
to survive and thrive. In fact, it is because of these advocates that the state of Florida finally released funds that will assist its residents in acquiring medications that they need to remain healthy and alive.
For the last 30 years, these advocates, these angels have brought communities together all working for the same ultimate goal, a cure for a human disease called HIV. There is no cure as of yet, no magic bullet, but these advocates promote, encourage, and demand that science be allowed to continue research and work towards discovering a vaccine and a cure.
I cannot continue without also saying thank you to the many advocates that are unknown to us who work behind the scene with individuals directly affected by HIV/AIDS in the communities where they live. These are the people, the angels who volunteer their time, give of their heart, and share their love with those who many times are discouraged or dismayed due to stigma and fear. They are indiscriminative and supportive of those who live in the shadow of discrimination and ignorance. These are the people who stand with us, not against us when we walk the street at night on World AIDS Day carrying a candle for those we have lost and for the battle that we are facing ourselves.
These advocates, these friends, these AMAZING ANGELS OF HOPE AND GUIDANCE have been fighting for years to assure that generations to come will have the medications, healthcare, and dignity that is our human right. And although we have come a long way over the last 30 years in achieving this, there is a long way to go and I know that many of these angels have tired and need our help and our support in continuing this fight. This battle will not be over until every HIV positive man, woman, and child has equal access to care and services. This fight will not end until there is a vaccine for HIV and cure for AIDS. Because of this, I have joined in the fight to rid the world of stigma, fear, and discrimination that people living with HIV/AIDS are facing and to advocate for equal care and equal rights for all.
I now ask of you, no CHALLENGE you to join these advocates, our angels and do what you can to help promote, encourage, and assure that the needs of all people living with HIV/AIDS are met. The only way that we as a community, as a nation, as a world can win this battle is by joining together, hand in hand, working with each other, in support of one another.
Once again, to the many advocates, the ANGELS HOPE AND GUIDANCE that fight and have fought for my right and the right of others to live a healthy, happy, productive life, I want to say thank you. Know that I love you for allthat you have done and still do to this day. I will never forget that you are all my ANGELS OF HOPE AND GUIDANCE!
Anthony Johnson is the organizer of BOLT, a group that is HIV centric but is open to the whole GLBT community. He can be reached by email at email@example.com and you can find BOLT?on facebook, twitter and Youtube.