Wait! Before you click the ‘next’ button or scroll down your news feed hear me out: The LGBT community has been living with AIDS for three decades now. For people of my generation the message to get tested and use condoms has been stated and restated so many times that it has faded into the background with the result that, all too often, people do not take the steps they need to to protect themselves. Harris County is responsible for 30% of the new HIV/AIDS diagnosis in Texas and men who have sex with men account for 64% of newly diagnosed men statewide. The threat is not over, the fight is not over, AIDS still endanger the LGBT community.
But I don’t want to just talk about just condoms and testing (as important as they are). Fighting HIV/AIDS is easier than you might think. I present to you 25 ways, in no particular order, to fight AIDS in Houston.
25. If you’re over a certain age talk to a young LGBT person about how your life has been affected by HIV/AIDS. You might be surprised how eager we are to hear your stories.
24. If you’re under a certain age listen to an older LGBT person tell you how HIV/AIDS has affected their lives. I know you aren’t eager to hear their stories, but listen anyway. You may find that learning the history of your community is more empowering than you’d expect.
23. If you are a sexually active gay man or transgender woman participate in the Baylor College of Medicine’s HIV Vaccine Study.
22. Ask your local public or school library to put books about HIV/AIDS on the shelf, not just in the back room where they have to be requested. Access to accurate information is crucial in fighting the spread of the disease.
21. Post HIV/AIDS stories to facebook.
20. Ask your clergy person what your community of faith is doing to fight the pandemic.
19. Sign up for action alerts from the Texas HIV/AIDS Coalition at texashiv.org
18. Actually follow through when the action alerts from the Texas HIV/AIDS Coalition arrive in your in-box.
17. Volunteer for organizations that deal with communities at high risk for infection: high school dropouts, victims of sexual assault, the poor, the homeless and sex workers. Fighting AIDS means fighting the injustice in our society that all too often contributes to new infections.
16. Say AIDS out loud.
15. Ask political candidates what they will do to continue funding to fight HIV/AIDS.
14. Once they’re elected, ask those candidates why they aren’t doing more to continue funding to fight HIV/AIDS.
13. Remind yourself that it’s OK to be tired of hearing about HIV/AIDS.
12. Thank a person who volunteers their time to the fight.
11. Take a moment to remember the people we’ve lost.
10. Take a moment to think of the people we may loose if this pandemic isn’t stopped.
9. Take a HIV/AIDS healthcare worker to dinner.
8. Wear a red ribbon.
7. Recognize that wearing a red ribbon isn’t enough.
6. Work with communities other than your own. HIV/AIDS effects us all.
5. Get angry.
4. Get over your anger.
3. Donate to an HIV/AIDS Charity.
2. When you pass a mobile HIV testing center, thank the workers.
1. Don’t pretend the fight is over, and don’t let other people pretend it’s over either.