Monday, February 7th, marks the 11th anniversary of Black AIDS Awareness Day, an annual commemoration that calls upon Black people to take action against HIV and AIDS.
Nobel prize winner Andre Gide once said, “Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.” The fact that 30 years into America’s AIDS epidemic, HIV/AIDS continues to rage in Black communities and families, suggests that this thought could apply here. According to a 2009 Kaiser Family Foundation study (pdf), 58 percent of Black Americans know someone with HIV/AIDS, and for 38 percent of us, that “someone” is a close personal friend or family member.
But rather than rehash statistics describing the magnitude of the epidemic and its disproportionate impact on Black women, youth, injection drug users and men who have sex with men, I’d like to ask you to think about the people in your life who are at risk of HIV, who are living with the virus or have already died of AIDS.
This week, I’m thinking about my friend Reggie Williams, who passed away 12 years ago on the date that now marks Black AIDS Awareness Day. I used to call Reggie my “brister”—he was both brother and sister to me. He was the person I went to when I needed to talk about my life without having to explain myself. He didn’t need a glossary to understand my words when I talked about the difficulty of having a partner living with HIV or the challenges of living with HIV myself because my truth was his truth.
Click here to read all of Phill Wilson’s blog.