as usual, i am typing my post the night before. tomorrow, i am emceeing the world aids day recognition ceremony at the denver capitol. it is held outside, and i will be introducing the lt.governor, the mayor, the head of hiv treatment at state health, and two prominent hiv doctors from our city. each will have about 3-5 minutes to get their message out and heard.
at the end, i have been asked to share a bit of my story, and as i have 3-5 minutes to speak, i guess i will try to say the following:
my name is rod rushing. so i am humbly standing before you on world aids day 2008. the theme this year is lead, empower, and deliver. i have experience with aids. i tested positive for hiv in 1985 in my then home of chicago. my best friend paul died 1 month after my test results came in. i was then 27 and have live almost half my life as a postive person. what followed paul's passing was a long stretch of fear and denial, as i basically went through the motions of my life anticipating that i would develop aids and die like so many of my peers. i moved to denver in 1987 with all expectations of dying in the home of my family here.
a quick death from complications from aids was not to be the path for me though. hiv has not been the deadly disease for me that it has been for so many. i cannot explain this. i did not always want this, either. but here it is. it is my story. hiv does not have to be a death sentence. it can be a manageable condition that can be kept in check with good nutrition, exercise, and eventually medication. almost everyone can have a long, healthy and emotionally full life. and this full life will best be achieved if everyone knows their status. ask the people you know their status. ask strangers. make hiv part of the conversation and impact stigma. work towards a safer city for hiv positive persons. and for non-positives. don't assume.
the advancements of science and medicine around this virus are both a miracle and mind boggling to me, as is the terror and pain that same virus is causing worldwide. but beyond those, there is a spiritual component of living with this virus. hiv has heralded a spiritual awakening in me. there has been a huge lesson and rejuvenating for me that i could not have foreseen in those early days. i had been engulfed in the wake of terror. i was frozen or numbed for over a decade. the voyage i am now embarking upon is to learn to live. to learn to manage. to learn to heal. to learn to forgive. and to lend a hand. and to me "living" is why there is a day of remembering. those friends are not forgotten. that pain was not for nothing. we must allow every affected person to have his/her own awakening. i- we- are waking up and looking beneath the surface and finding a better way to live. to laugh. to love. to lead.. to empower.. to deliver....
today's sound choice is a remix of madonna and justin timberlake's "four minutes"