World AIDS Day

(I tried to keep it upbeat but it still came out kinda sad- you might need a tissue)
Once, when I was in college, I worked for a campus program called SPARK. Mostly it was about alcohol and drug prevention, but it was a program run by the campus health center so we also did some safer sex stuff. December 1 was a Friday that year (1994). The theater I worked at was having a benefit performance of the show that was currently running. And on campus we did a whole bunch of stuff in partnership with the San Mateo County AIDS Project (SMCAP)- we had a table in the student center with AIDS awareness information, did some street outreach, and on Friday, World AIDS Day, we brought in a speaker to tell students what it was like to live with AIDS.
It was a day that changed my life profoundly. The speaker’s name was Jim, and we never got to hear his story. He started to tell us about himself, and about his life, and then he trailed off, seeming to have lost his train of thought. Then in front of an assembly of 100 or so students, Jim had a seizure and lost conciousness. He had not regained conciousness by the time the ambulance arrived. I visited him once in the hospital, Angel (our contact at the SMCAP) on one side of him, and I on the other, each of us holding a hand of the unconcious man in the bed. Angel told me that he had come out of it a few times, but for the most part stayed in his coma. After ten days or so, he stopped waking up and stayed in a coma for two more weeks, and then he died- on Christmas Eve. I wrote a piece on it for the student newspaper, that I’d post here if I could find it.
I was passionate about the cause back then. I put a lot of time and energy into AIDS related programs. I volunteered at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the SMCAP. I did AIDS Walk San Francisco every year and volunteered with them from May to July. I worked hard and gave of my time and energy because, as a college student, it was all I had. Now, I give money, because I have more of that than time. But sometimes I feel like giving my time was somehow doing more. I take this opportunity to remember those people I’ve known who have died- most especially Scott Williams, Michael Callen and Jim- to treasure those in my life fighting it (who know who they are), and to thank all those who work hard for the cause.

4 thoughts on “World AIDS Day

  1. Mona

    My best friend in college works in AIDS outreach in the county he lives in. He took a few years off and I’m glad he’s back in it. It really says something about a person that donates his time, energy and or money into a cause. it is what keeps it going. i look up to him in trying to find low income housing for AIDS patiences and talk to local schools about safe sex.
    I hope with my talent I can help out a cause that I can be proud of. I hope my images will inspire people to donate in some way shape or form.

  2. Sharron

    Hi. This is my first stop to your blog, and I was very happy to see someone who recognized this day. I work at a local medical center and we have a huge population of HIV and AIDS patients. These people continue to touch my life everyday as I see them suffer and continue on with many smiles and thanks. Thank you for that heart felt story, it did bring a tear to my eye.

Comments are closed.