Words: From Me to You

andreaBY ANDREA MUFARREH

We all remember a time when someone said something that we will never forget. Most of the time, it’s something that didn’t just prick us or shock us, but rather, it’s something that lives within us. It’s like a thorn in our side that makes us feel inadequate and misunderstood. I don’t mean the misunderstood that a teenager feels when their parents won’t extend their curfew. The misunderstood feeling I’m talking about is this yearning to be accepted, understood and loved.

For me, there is a word that invokes this sort of feeling. As someone who converted to Christianity a little over two years ago, and underwent a radical change from an atheist and party girl to someone loves Jesus, the world “religious” gets to me.

There is nothing inherently wrong with the word religious, but I know that much of the time when someone asks me if I’m really religious, they’re actually wondering if I’m ritualistic and dogmatic. These words seem to have all become dirty words in our society.

I am ritualistic, in that I go to church weekly, and pray and read the Bible daily. I am dogmatic, in that I interpret the Bible as the true and living word of God, much like St. Augustine would. But as a Christian, my religion is not my rituals or my dogma. My religion is a relationship with who I believe to be the God of the universe and Savior of mankind.

What words haunt you? The words that haunt you may be the N-word or the F-word. Or maybe the word that haunts you is HIV+, AIDS, whore, or prostitute. We all have words that haunt us.

I think if anything, the lesson I’m learning is that words can be used to hurt people, but more importantly, words can be used to speak life into people. I write speak into because the words we speak have the power to live within another person. This sounds rather idealistic, but whether or not we admit it to ourselves, we all seem to live in a way that presupposes that there is a “perfect” or “ideal” way.

We volunteer at homeless shelters because the world would be better if everyone had a home they could call their own. We work to spread awareness about important issues because it would be better if people knew about them. We vote the way we vote because it would be better if our laws were a certain way.

We all have a certain notion of what a perfect and ideal world looks like and we attempt to live according to those standards. It’s okay that we’re different. It’s okay that we think differently. It’s okay that we live differently. It’s okay that we vote differently. It’s okay that we’re incredibly passionate about different things, even opposing things.

What would it look like if the words we speak into our family, friends and enemies actually built them up into the person they are meant to be? What would it look like if we actually lived to intentionally speak life into others who believe and live completely differently than we do?

The world would be a much better place.

A Word Like Cure

m louella

BY MICHAEL LOUELLA

First published by defeatHIV

 

From the very beginning, I was warned about a word like cure.

I was preparing to teach a class at Gay City University on the latest scientific developments motivating the thoughts behind and the investigations into potential cures for HIV.

I remember I was excited to have found online the first pics of the mysterious “Berlin Patient’, who stepped out of years of anonymity into a name: Timothy Brown. I remember thinking it was a minor coup to add his name and face to my PowerPoint presentation. Somehow, becoming Timothy Brown made the story of his cure more real.

My friend must have seen all my excitement about this and about the chance to talk about the current research into a cure.He cast me a sideways glance that only a queen worthy of such a title can cast and said with some foreboding:

“Like all other four-letter words, you gotta watch out for a word like cure.”

It’s taken me three years to come to appreciate, if not always follow, his advice.

My friend’s admonishment stumped me.

Was he really advising me not to use a word like cure in a presentation about the very same subject?

Should I take his comments to mean I needed to better define what we mean when we say a word like cure, or what we think when we hear it?

What could be wrong with a word like cure, which to me only sounded so right?

Well, to answer that, google “cure for HIV” and see how long it takes for you to find a page like howtocurehiv.com whose opening salvo reads:

How To Cure HIV – in 3 Days, No Matter What! FREE

(Scientifically proven, trusted and recommended even if you’ve stuggled with HIV for years and your doctors lost all hope!)

Read on to learn about your amazing Free Trial opportunity…

No, we might shake our heads at such foolishness. We might even point to the spelling error ‘stuggled’ as some sort of secondary proof that such claims are nonsense.

Doctor’s Have Proven How To Cure HIV

Click here to Cure HIV now!

The history of HIV is peppered with such claims, and when, such as the ones above, they seek to make money from people living with HIV by peddling lies that prey on hope it is only just to call such actions evil.

Sometimes I look up these sites to remind myself how powerful a word like cure can be. I scan these pages online and I witness how a good word could be used as bait.

They leave me heartbroken, these online peddlers of snake oil cures for HIV.

But these shadows in the history of HIV must be remembered if we are to effectively tell the truth about a word like cure.

It happened again. That four-letter word came up unexpectedly.

In reply to the mention of what I do for work, a guy I had been chatting with online told me that a cure for HIV is ‘just around the corner.’

I replied: “Nope. Exact opposite.”

“Oh, I keep seeing all my friends posting stuff*[1] on Facebook about how it’ll be cured soon.”

“Years and years away, but on the road with scientific basis.”

I boiled down this phrase after the umpteenth time of being online and suddenly confronting the need to do damage control.

Soon after I began talking about an HIV cure with any willing audience, I found the need for answers that would communicate the truth quickly like a text or a tweet or a soundbite.

Of course, I can never leave things to one terse reply, and so found that I just had to write three complete sentences about the media misrepresentations that seem like the adult versions of the childhood games known as Telephone and Whisper Down The Lane.

I also like to lead people to sources to see for themselves the evidence of anything I say, and so even offered to send this guy a few links.

“Eh….I’ll take your word for it.”

And with that, our 7-line long online conversation about HIV—which was exhaustive in comparison to most of my online conversations about HIV—just kind of stopped, ended not with a bang but a few whimpers.

And I sat there staring at my inbox, wondering in the end how much anyone really cares about another four-letter word like cure.

I know I shouldn’t feel this way.

I do know from firsthand experience that some people care an awful lot about a cure for HIV.

Some people get so excited to hear about the scientific basis for investigations into a possible path toward an HIV cure. That these investigations are exploring 8-10 different possibilities is just more icing on an already sweet, moist cake for these folks.

Now, before you think that such conversations are easy, or that complicating emotions don’t arise even among people who are excited about federally funded research into potential cures, let me point out that in such conversations, there is often a soft counterpoint.

Sometimes this thought is shared aloud with me, and I get to concur without needing to say much more than an amen.

More often it remains on their tongue like a silent prayer, afraid to fly up to heaven and stake a claim, knowing how fickle fate can be despite the fervor of our wanting.

It’s with these folks who hope beyond hope and in spite of foolishness that I feel a bond.

They want to see a word like cure made real.

But it is the hush around the words that follow in a soft counterpoint that always break my heart.

In my lifetime.

There are people who are happy to believe a cure for HIV is ‘just around the corner.’

Faulty journalism like the recent story out of Denmark does not make talking about a word like cure with such people any easier.

In fact, if you take people down that rabbit hole which starts with a university’s plug for the cure research going on within its hallowed halls being lifted by an online UK paper known for printing incorrect obituaries that have led even the New York Times astray and which ends in a wonderland where a cure is just around the corner, they tend to become less happy.

In fact, they often become more distrustful, more resentful.

I marvel at the craters such bad information leaves behind in the thoughts of many people.

Do they stop thinking that HIV is a global crisis? Do they stop giving money to HIV agencies or volunteering their time in clinical research?

I wonder what the conspiracy junkies who already believe a cure exists but is being kept from some of us by the federal government make of such faulty news?

Does this immediately strengthen their belief that a cure exists but is being withheld? Or does it secure this myth only after months pass and we still have no cure to point to?

I wonder how such wrong news about a word like cure might soften into pudding the mind of a young gay man who already thinks that he doesn’t need to worry about HIV, that it isn’t a big deal anymore, that people aren’t dying from it, that you can pop your pill once a day and be just fine.

Prevention is barely on the radar of such men, most of whom have a poor grasp of the nature of an epidemic that keeps all of them disproportionately at risk for becoming infected with HIV.

How many ‘just around the corner’ headlines will it take to lay to rest completely whatever prevention strategies might remain in the minds of these men?

And when I consider the fatigue gay men exhibit after 30+ years of shouldering most of the blame and most of the burden for the HIV epidemic, such wrongheaded headlines begin to sound like nails hammered into the lid of a coffin.

We need to begin talking with each other about a word like cure. We need to learn how to unpack all its punches.

As a community begins to form around a cure research group like defeatHIV, we need to remember a word like cure has many lessons, and these lessons will only be learned by talking with each other.

We need our talk to be truthful, honest and real, and we need it to be free enough to reach others wherever they might be at.

We need to deepen our understanding of the science, what has been accomplished, what yet remains for us to do, and just how long it can take science to any of it, let alone all of it.

We need to deepen our respect for our communities heavily affected and infected by HIV, and for the context of people’s lives that might change the way they hear any talk about a cure.

We need to strengthen each other in a commitment to learn as much as we can and share this with our friends and neighbors, figuring out ways to open up our capacity for awe and wonder without losing complexity.

We need to consider the power over the heart a word like cure has, and to take much care not to inflate hopes, but careful as well not to deflate them.

Want to know what was on the very first slide of my very first presentation, the one with Timothy Brown’s name and photo, the one that cause my friend the queen to issue his dire warning?

That slide had one word: CURE

I started off by acknowledging that four-letter word, giving it my voice and breath.

To this day I can think of no better way to begin to talk about a word like cure.

 

We need a cure for HIV.

And that cure for HIV needs us.

That cure for HIV needs you.

So let’s start talking……


[1]
[1]Despite my use of direct quotes, I changed this word to a version more polite, despite the poet in me seeing in his original word an unintentional commentary on the newsworthiness of his friends’ FB posts.

How Many People are Living with HIV in the World?

A great graphic from UNAIDS (click here for Source) that takes a look at how many people are living with HIV versus those getting the necessary treatment. It begs the question, what more can we ALL be doing to

  1. Lower the overall number of those living with HIV
  2. Lessen the gap between the number of people living with HIV and those being treated
  3. -Perhaps most importantly of all- How do we bring the number of NEW infections down to ZERO?

WorldAIDSday_results_UNAIDS_pg1

7 Awesome TED Talks on the Subject of AIDS/HIV

BY: JOSEPH PICKETT

TED.com is a fantastic way to learn about hundreds of fascinating topics from expert speakers around the world. One of the topics that you can learn a lot about from TED is AIDS and HIV. This public health crisis affects millions of people around the world.

Fortunately, there are many well-known people from all walks of life who are dedicating their lives to help tame this severe public health problem. Some of the most interesting and informative TED talks on the subject of AIDS/HIV includes these:

#1 Elizabeth Pisani: Sex, Drugs and HIV – Let’s Get Rational

In this unusual TED talk, Pisani uses logic, humor and wit to show the many inconsistencies in today’s political systems that prevent funds from fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS. She has done a great deal of research with populations at risk, such as junkies to sex workers in Cambodia, to show that some surprising, counter-intuitive ideas could stop the spread of HIV. Pisani worked at several government agencies and is now an independent researcher and analyst who fights to end AIDS/HIV and to stop other serious public health problems in their tracks.

#2 Annie Lennox: Why I Am an HIV/AIDS Activist

Since 2004, pop star Annie Lennox has devoted much of her free time to her SING campaign, which raises awareness and funds to fight HIV/AIDS. In this recent TED talk, she talks about the experiences that inspire her work in HIV/AIDS. According to this video, Lennox first became inspired to help in this public health crisis after she heard Nelson Mandela speak out to help stop the HIV/AIDS disaster in South Africa. It was because of that speech that she founder SING in 2007.

#3 Emily Oster Flips Our Thinking On AIDS in Africa

Emily Oster, a economist at the University of Chicago, explains the statistics on AIDS in Africa from a unique economic point of view and comes up with a rather shocking conclusion: Most of what we know about the spread of HIV in Africa is wrong. Oster has a history of rethinking conventional wisdom on many topics. Her doctoral thesis at Harvard challenged famous economist Amartya Sen on his claim that there were 100 million women statistically missing in the developing world. She also has studied the role of bad weather affecting the rise of witchcraft trials in Medieval Europe, and what causes people to play the lottery.

#4 Bono: Action for Africa

In this exciting TED talk, Bono, musician and public health activist, accepts the 2005 TED prize. He argues in this talk that aiding Africa to end AIDS, hunger and poverty. Over the years, Bono has shown himself to be very effective in getting some of the most powerful world leaders to try to rise to beat AIDS, hunger, poverty and other diseases and problems in Africa. He argues here that with technological innovation and efficient aid and investments, the West can truly help to end most public health crises on the continent.

#5 Seth Berkley: HIV and Flu – The Vaccine Strategy

Seth Berkley, a famed epidemiologist, talks about how great advances in the design of vaccines, as well as in production and distribution, can bring us closer to eliminating many public health threats, including HIV/AIDS. Berkley is leading a charge around the world to develop a vaccine to cure the AIDS virus, and also to make sure such a vaccine is available to people in Africa. Berkely founded the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative that is trying to develop vaccines that can prevent AIDS.

#6 Bjorn Lomborg: Global Priorities Bigger Than Climate Change

If we had $50 billion to spend to solve a problem, should we solve AIDS or global warming first? Danish political scientist Bjorn Lomborg is the leader of the Copenhagen Consensus, which prioritizes the biggest problems – AIDS, global warming, poverty and many other diseases. The idea is to prioritize these problems based upon how effective the proposed solutions are. His organization determined that the best investment would be to control HIV/AIDS, and stopping global warming would be the worst investment.

#7 Kristen Ashburn’s Photos of AIDS

This very moving TED talk by documentary photographer Kristen Ashburn shares many unforgettable images of the terrible human impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa. These photographs bring all viewers face to face with real people who are suffering a real public health tragedy. Her poignant photographs bring all of us closer to people who are suffering terrible hardships. In the past, she also photographed Iraqis after the US invasion, suicide bombers and the penal system in Russia.

Through the hard work of these speakers, we can see that working to reduce the terrible human suffering of HIV/AIDS is within our reach.

Article Source: MPHprogramslist.com

Robin Barkins: My Story

Robin Barkins My name is Robin Barkins. I was first diagnosed with HIV at age 15 – just 4 months before my 16th birthday. When I first heard the news, I instantly thought my life was over. I refused all HIV treatment. I began to use drugs heavily and I slept around with different men and women without disclosing my status. I was angry at the world and I wanted everyone to feel my pain.

For 10 years I did a lot of demoralizing things. I kept my status a secret from the world; I even kept it from my own mother. After 10 years of running from my problems, using drugs and drinking alcohol; I began to get tired of the way I was living my life. I decided to go into treatment.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought that going to treatment would be the beginning of a new and improved life for me. I began to face my problems and fears head on and I found some coping skills in the process. These were skills I could use in case a problem came my way – I now have a better way to deal with these issues instead of running to get high.

I surrendered totally as far as my health was concerned and I began to start loving myself. I decided that my story could help others. While in treatment, I began to share my story which gave other people hope. In the process, it helped me as well.

I am currently 3 years sober, and my goal is to help women and men who are suffering with substance abuse and HIV. I want to give them hope and let them know they are not alone.

Pablo Panda Sandoval wears The Bracelet … Until There’s A Cure

Pablo Panda Sandoval wears The Bracelet … Until There’s A Cure

What about you?

Pablo Sandoval

Winning Raffle Tickets for SF Giants “Until There’s A Cure” Game

Thank You SO much to everyone who came out and made the 20th Annual San Francisco Giants “Until There’s A Cure” Game a GIANT success!!

If you purchased Raffle tickets throughout the game but weren’t able to check your ticket numbers, we’ve listed them below. To claim your prizes, please call 650-332-3200 or email us at info@until.org.

Thank you for your support!

UNTIL raffle prize sign_2013San