Posts Tagged ‘Ryan White’

“Love Is the Cure” To End AIDS

We all know that Elton John is an incredible musician and, since the 1970s, he’s been part of the soundtrack of our lives.

I was fortunate to see him in concert in Las Vegas in October 2012 for my birthday.

Elton LasVegas

Elton John is a survivor (drugs, alcohol, and an eating disorder).

He’s also a great humanitarian.

That’s what I want to talk about today on “World AIDS Day”, a day started on December 1, 1988, to remember those fallen by AIDS, to encourage those living with HIV and AIDS to fight, and to raise awareness, educate the public, and prevent future infections.

world aids day

We don’t hear stories about AIDS today as much as we did in the 1980s and 1990s, but “World AIDS Day” is still very important to remember.

Today, 36.7 million people worldwide are living with HIV and AIDS and of that number, 1.8 million are children.

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In the 1970s and 1980s, Elton admitted to having unprotected sex and says he was very lucky he didn’t contract HIV, the infection that causes AIDS.

From the summer of 1981 through December 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that close to 775-thousand people were infected with AIDS in the United States alone and, of that number, about 448-thousand died.

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While Elton spiraled out of control through the 1980s, it wasn’t until he met Indiana teenager Ryan White, who contracted HIV and AIDS through blood transfusions, in the mid-1980s that he realized he had to turn his life around to stay alive.  He checked into rehab in the early-1990s and has been sober and clean ever since then.

While he recorded “That’s What Friends Are For” in 1986 with Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder to raise awareness and money for AIDS research, Elton knew that song and the AIDS benefits he performed weren’t enough.

He formed the “Elton John AIDS Foundation” in 1992 in the United States (1993 in the United Kingdom) and has raised more than $200 million dollars to fund innovative HIV prevention and education programs and for direct care and support for those living with HIV and AIDS.

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“Love Is The Cure:  On Life, Loss, and the End of AIDS”, Elton’s 2012 book, is an excellent read.

While it does give some eye-opening stats on HIV and AIDS, the book has a heart and it tugs at yours.

Throughout the book’s lean 219 pages, he talks of the friends he’s lost (Freddie Mercury of Queen) and two heroes that defied convention to raise awareness of AIDS — Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Diana.

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He shares stories of politicians who have been instrumental in the fight against HIV and AIDS — Bill and Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, and George W. Bush!  Yes, despite his short-comings in the LGBT community, Bush made a huge contribution in the fight against AIDS during his presidency.

In “Love is the Cure”, Elton also tells stories of lesser known heroes in the fight against AIDS and ignorance and raising awareness — Elizabeth Glaser and Fumana (a South African rape victim, now HIV-positive, who uses her status and survival as a talking tool to educate others in that country to fight against the stigma of HIV).

HIV AIDS

Poor Sub-Saharan countries in Africa and the gay community aren’t the only groups that HIV and AIDS are ravaging today.

We have those places right here in the United States — the South is being hit hard and some parts of our nation’s capital, Washington D.C., are devastated with HIV and AIDS.

And, just last year, a county in southern Indiana had an outbreak of HIV cases that reached “epidemic” levels.  It was reported that there were about twenty new cases each week because of drug use and needle sharing.

Yes, Indiana — while Vice-President elect Mike Pence was governor and before he was picked to be second in command in the U.S.

Also, while the HIV rates are still climbing in the younger LGBT community here in America, the heteorosexual black community is seeing the rates of infection skyrocketing.

STOP AIDS

Last year alone, 2.1 million people became HIV-positive and, sadly, only 60% of people know they are HIV-positive.  That means that 40% of the people that are HIV-positive don’t even know their status and could be spreading HIV without even being aware of it!

GET TESTED!  It’s painless and simpleand it could save your life!

love-is-the-cure

Elton John says that the fight against AIDS can only be won when there’s no stigma associated with the disease.

Every person that is HIV-positive, regardless of where they live, how much money they have, their color, their age, their profession, or their religion, needs to be treated for the infection and the disease.

He says how that person contracted HIV and AIDS should not be a factor in getting treatment.  A sex worker should be given the same compassion as someone who became HIV-positive through a blood transfusion.

Elton says eliminating that stigma with HIV and AIDS starts with love — “Love is the Cure”.

This is a book that every person needs to read — NOW!

In honor of Elton’s contributions in the fight against AIDS, for love and compassion, and for eliminating the stigma that HIV-positive people encounter, I’m sharing these two powerful songs.

Love!

Anthony

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Random Friday Thoughts — April 11, 2014

The weekend is upon us!  While I have a couple of work-related events to take part in this weekend, one Saturday and one Sunday, I plan on taking full advantage of my down time.

Have a great weekend and thank you for checking out my random thoughts this week.

GIVE YOUR LOVED ONES AN EXTRA HUG

We all get overwhelmed and sometimes we forget to do simple things like show others how much we care.

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You just never know what will happen that day.

Who would have thought this innocent-looking 16-year-old boy is now suspected of stabbing 21 students and a security guard earlier this week in a Pennsylvania school?

To my friends, I appreciate you.  To my loved one, I’m thankful you’re in my life!

RE-WRITING THE BIBLE

Failed presidential candidate and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee wants you to know he is not homophobic.

Huckabee

That’s what he told a crowd earlier this week at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition Spring fundraiser.

Huckabee says, “I’m not against anybody. I’m really not. I’m not a hater. I’m not homophobic. I honestly don’t care what people do personally in their individual lives…but… when people say, ‘Why don’t you just kind of get on the right side of history?’ I said, ‘You’ve got to understand, this for me is not about the right side or the wrong side of history, this is the right side of the Bible, and unless God rewrites it, edits it, sends it down with his signature on it, it’s not my book to change.’ Folks, that’s why I stand where I stand.”

I admit that Huckabee knows more about the Bible than I do, but I really don’t think that God put his signature on the first one, much less rewriting it, signing it, and sending it down now!

HIT THE ROAD, JACK

After thirty years of marriage, it’s over for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his wife, Lyudmila.

Putin

Unless she’s like him, I wonder why it took thirty years?  Who knows (or cares)?  Maybe his hateful, ignorant attitude is something relatively new.

They have two daughters.

COUNTRY MUSIC SHINES ON CBS

Last Sunday night’s Academy of Country Music Awards show on CBS brought in some big numbers with 14.2 million people watching.

While I had no desire to watch it, I did flip over from “Crisis” on NBC during a couple of commercial breaks and I have three observations to make.

49th Annual Academy Of Country Music Awards - Show

In her performance with husband Tim McGraw, Faith Hill looked amazing.  I didn’t really care for the song they performed and I really wish that she’d release an incredible album that country radio would have to embrace.

Meanwhile, show co-host Luke Bryan (left, below) looked incredibly hot.  Whatever he’s doing, it’s working.  As for Blake Shelton, not so much.

Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton

I didn’t watch the opening monologue and I know that the point is to poke fun at pop culture.

I thought Blake’s comment about marriage equality was funny, “A year ago, same-sex marriage just meant once you got married, you had the same sex over and over and over again.”  From what I’ve read, his wife, Miranda Lambert, in the audience, mouthed, “Thank you” to him!  It might have been a cold night in Las Vegas in their suite that night!

But, I didn’t care for one of his other “jokes” that I’m sure others thought was funny.

When the hosts were talking about the upcoming live performances on the show, Shelton added, “And if you don’t like live music, you have to go down the block and see Britney Spears”.

Britney Las Vegas

Stop!  I’m laughing out loud.  Not really.

I know it was a joke and they have writers, so I’m saying this in fun.  Blake, when you get own residency in Vegas and can ask for $800 a ticket and $2,500 for a VIP/Meet & Greet ticket, give me a call!

HERE’S THE KICKER TO BLAKE’S JOKE

Rascal Flatts, performing their new single, “Rewind”, on the ACMs now admit to lip-syncing (badly)!

Rascal Flatts

The band says, “After having performed several shows earlier in the week, Gary lost his voice.  So instead of canceling our commitment to do the show, we made a last-minute decision to lip-synch. We’ve never done it before, and we’re obviously not very good at it. We look forward to singing live again in the very near future!”

“WTH” FASHION STATEMENT

And, my last ACM Awards comment is about Miranda Lambert.  She is a beautiful woman and she looks amazing in the right and left pictures from Sunday night.

Miranda Lambert

However, in the middle picture, from the braided hair to the demin shirt and the belt, the whole ensemble had me censoring myself and just saying, “WTH”.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

 

Freaking StupidDog Social MediaPeas and Hominy

WAY TO GO, NOTRE DAME

In life, there are good and bad Democrats and Republicans.  There are good and bad straight people and LGBT people.  There are good and bad <insert group here>.

The University of Notre Dame, a Catholic college, in South Bend, Indiana, is making strides to be on the right side of history.

Matt Dooley

Watch this amazing video the University released after tennis play Matt Dooley came out as gay.  It’s incredible and touching.

REMEMBERING RYAN WHITE

It was 24 years ago this week that 18-year-old Ryan White died of complications of AIDS.

Ryan White

It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long.  We have come so far in the fight against AIDS and today, with proper medication, it’s no longer a death sentence and people can now live a full and long life.

That wasn’t the case back in the 1980s.  Ryan, a hemophiliac, was infected with HIV from contaminated blood in December 1984 and was given only six months to live.  He surprised doctors and the world by living for another five years.

While he posed no threat to other students, he was expelled from middle school because of his diagnosis.  Many parents and teachers in Kokomo, Indiana, fought against him returning to school and the family left Kokomo after bullets were fired into their house.

elton_John_ryan_white MIchael Jackson Ryan White

In life, Ryan became good friends with Elton John and Michael Jackson, along with John Cougar Mellencamp, and former President and First Lady Ronald and Nancy Reagan.

Before he died, Ryan became a national spokesperson for bringing AIDS discrimination to the forefront in America.  Sadly, he died a month before graduating from high school.

Ryan, your memory is still alive.  And, to all of the Ryan Whites in the world today, live life to the fullest.

Here’s Elton John performing “Skyline Pigeon” at Ryan’s funeral.

DID YOU KNOW?

On a lighter note, now that it’s warming up, ice cream sounds like a great treat to enjoy outdoors.

In the July 2013 issue, “Better Homes and Gardens” reported that the average American eats 24 pounds of ice cream a year!

rocky road ice cream

While I love many flavors of ice cream, if I had to choose only one, it’d be Rocky Road.  And, if I could add one ingredient, it’d be coconut.

Now, there are many ranking of favorite flavors.  My favorite, Rocky Road, barely makes the Top 15.

Most rankings have Strawberry at #4, Butter Pecan at #3, and Chocolate comes in second place.

What’s shocking to me is that Vanilla is the favorite by a three-to-one margin!  Maybe because of its versatility?

PICK HIT

Pharrell Williams is hot right now.

As a solo artist, he’s at #1 with his song, “Happy”, and last year, he was featured in two of the biggest songs of the year, “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk and “Blurred Line” with Robin Thicke.

I don’t really care for “Happy”, but I love him accompanying other artists.  I first became aware of him when appeared on Madonna’s album “Hard Candy” and on her 2008’s #1 dance smash, “Give It 2 Me”.

Pharrell is featured on one of my favorite songs from Kylie Minogue’s latest album, “Kiss Me Once”.

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“I Was Gonna Cancel” is the album’s second single and the follow-up to the #1 Billboard Dance hit, “Into The Blue”.

Radio programmers, add this to your playlist now!

“THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY”

While it’s a Christmas-themed movie, I recently watched “The Best Man Holiday”, the sequel to Malcolm D. Lee’s 1999 hit, “The Best Man”, and I loved it.

The-Best-Man-Holiday-Poster

The $17 million movie brought in an incredible $71.6 million in theaters.  While I didn’t see the original and know the history of the characters, I could still follow the storyline.

In the movie, Mia and Lance invite their group of friends —  boyfriends/girlfriends, spouses, and a couple of single friends to their ritzy, gorgeously Christmas-decorated mansion to share a secret with them.

However, Mia and Lance’s secrets aren’t the only ones revealed.

“The Best Man Holiday” is funny, cute, and sentimental!

GRADE:  A-

“I’M A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY”

Earlier I talked about Luke Bryan, so I’ll feature him in my segment of some of my favorite country songs.

In just seven short years, the 37-year-old Georgia native and married father of two boys has racked up an incredible 15 Top Ten hits on the Billboard Country chart.  Of those, 11 of  have reached the Top Three with seven making it to the #1 spot!

His latest, “Play It Again”, is at #3 this week and it could top the chart, too.  However, he’d have to knock himself out of the top spot since he’s featured on Florida Georgia Line ‘s “This Is How We Roll”, at #1.

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I really like many of his hits like “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” and “Rain Is A Good Thing”, but his first hit, “All My Friends Say”, which reached #5 in 2007, is my still my favorite.

THAT’S IT

Thank you for checking out my random thoughts this week.  As always, feel free to let me know what you think, whether you agree or disagree with any of them.

Have a great weekend.

Anthony