World AIDS Day is almost over and I sort of feel guilty... I didn't even wear a red ribbon today.
As many of you know, I am a founding board member of the James Tolin Memorial Fund , a non-profit which produces an annual theatrical event to raise money for both Arts Education and support services for NJ residents living with HIV/AIDS. In June of 2009, the JTMF will be producing Paul Rudnick's play The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told. The event will include a catered reception and a silent auction with loads of fabulous items up for bid. It will also honor the memory of a local actor who was lost to AIDS-related illness in 2001.
There is no denying that HIV/AIDS is a devastating illness which affects millions, worldwide (mostly in Africa and other under-developed regions). Still, HIV infection among young Americans (mostly African-Americans and Latinos) is on the rise. In Africa, ignorance, pride and fear are the greatest contributors to the disease. In the U.S., it's hubris. Advancement in medicine has greatly extended the life-expectancy among those infected, so many no longer see it as a threat. But make no mistake, AIDS kills.
When first identified in the early 80's, the Reagan administration did little (if anything) to support research and funding into its cure. That is, without a doubt, the result of the perception that AIDS is a "gay disease." The truth is, HIV/AIDS infections are higher among straights than gays, worldwide. And while education and safe-sex practices are still the best defense against this horrible disease, most people still think of it as a "gay disease." And there are still those members of the Religious Right who believe that AIDS is God's punishment for homosexuality. How sad.
So now, in the last half-hour of World AIDS Day, I urge everyone of you reading this to do something, anything, to help stop the spread of this pernicious and devastating disease. Write to Congress and urge more funding. Put a dollar in a collection jar. Attend a fund-raiser. Talk to your children about using condoms. Use a condom yourself. Every little bit helps. Just remember, the life you save may be that of someone you love (or even your own).
More movies, anon.