Today is World AIDS Day. Each year on December 1, nations around the world participate in awareness campaigns and activism in support of AIDS research and education.
As some of you know, this hits particulary close to home for me - it's been 12 years since I lost my dear dad to AIDS. I want to tell each of you that this disease is every bit as painful and hideous as the worst stories that you've heard but didn't want to believe. My dad died at 45, and he looked 90. He was blind and suffered from hallucinations that made him claw at his own skin. He had to be tied to his bed in the end to keep him from hurting himself.
I think that activism in any form says that we're glad to be here, and we're willing to fight for the things that matter to us personally. I wish that I had 10 times as much time and energy as I currently possess, because there are so many causes that are near and dear to my heart, and it makes me feel fulfilled as a person to give my time (and sometimes my money) to help validate the work being done to fight this disease, or support that cause.
It's been a long time since I gave any money for AIDS research, perhaps because it always felt like such a drop in the ocean in terms of what was actually needed. For me, it's about setting the little examples whenever I can - volunteer work, campaigning, fundraising, and just being willing to talk to people about why I do what I do. That's the difference that I can make. It's one of my greatest sources of pride in myself.
UNAIDS: The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
World AIDS Day website