Monday, December 1, 2008

World AIDS Day...

Today is World AIDS Day, a day set apart for those of us who have lost loved ones to this voracious disease to remember, to grieve, to celebrate, to renew our support and to look forward in hope.

There are more that 33 million people living with AIDS today, including 2.5 million children.  And there are at least as many caregivers, both family caregivers and helping professionals.  

Supporting someone through the roller coaster of any serious illness is difficult but to do so in the presence of ignorance, stigma and judgement is painful indeed.  Research tells us that caregiving within a community that shuns or denegrates the care recipient increases the risk of compassion fatigue in the caregiver.  Just like the Viet Nam vets in the 1970's, we all need support, understanding and appreciation as we fight on.

How can we support people living with AIDS and those who care for them?  Well, we can wear our red ribbons today as a sign of remembrance and solidarity and tomorrow we can take just one action in our local communities to help reduce the stigma and to improve the quality of life for PWA's and their caregivers.  Perhaps we could...

- Take some time to learn the facts - rather than the myths - of living with AIDS.

- Take a moment to write a note of encouragement to someone living with AIDS
or of appreciation to someone who works with people with AIDS.  

- Make a donation to a local AIDS service organization.  This Christmas,  
Loving Spoonful, an organization that improves the nutritional status of 
people with AIDS through free home delivery of nutritious meals and a baby
food program for babies of HIV(+) moms, is selling scarves through 
Vancouver's Capers Community Markets for $20.00.  Each purchase gifts
both the receiver and the families living with AIDS.  

- Volunteer some of our time and talents to local or international AIDS 

-  Call someone you know who is living with AIDS or who is a family caregiver
and offer a specific form of help.  A ride to a doctor's appointment.  Grocery
shopping.  Help in the garden.  Assistance with Christmas shopping or writing Christmas             cards or putting up a tree. Housework. Returning library books or videos. A chat over a cup       of tea.  If that form of assistance isn't needed, ask if there is anything else you can do.  
Barry and Jack, two dear friends who lived well with their illnesses until their last breaths, did much to counter AIDS prejudice, one in the teaching community and the other within his beloved church.  Both were talented, sensitive, passionate men who gave much to our community and I am grateful to have known them and their partners.              

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