Yesterday was officially World AIDS Day, a day created by the staff at the World Health Organization 27 years ago to raise awareness of the epidemic, taking advantage of the timing between the Presidential Election and the Christmas holidays. Since then much has changed around the virus including treatment options for people living with HIV. What has not changed is the need for awareness, education and an end to stigma and discrimination. With all of this in mind, for people living with HIV/AIDS, World AIDS Day can be heady. It can be frustrating to have so much focus on one day, begging the question, where is everyone every other day? This frustration is captured powerfully in a poem, as part of an ongoing work-in-progress by artist Shan Kelley.
AIDS is everyday.
Count out the bodies, those that are piled, those burned and buried, and those unaccounted.
Count out my platelets, my creatinine, my T cells, my viral load.
Count out the pills, the needles, the tests.
Count out the cold night sweats, soiled sheets, and nightmares.
Count out my partners, my mistakes, and missed steps.
Count out my fucks licks and blowjobs, my cocks and pussies, the wet spots I've touched.
Count out my fears, my dreams and frustrations.
Count out the odds of me surviving, succeeding, thriving.
Count out the calendar of happy time I have left.
Count me out.