Posts Tagged ‘World AIDS Day’

Random Friday Thoughts — December 2, 2016

The weekend is almost here and can you believe in just three weekends, it’s Christmas already.  I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.

Since I took a break last week on my “Random Friday Thoughts” since people were shopping and eating leftovers, here’s a short version for this week.

HELLO DECEMBER AND WINTER!

UPDATED POST:  early Saturday, December 3, 2016

If you follow my forecast on “Local 4 News This Morning” or my blogs for winter weather updates, you know I always tell you to keep up on the changing forecast when snow is coming.  There’s a good reason.  Small changes in the forecast can have big implications.

Here’s an update on the three weather systems that I first told you about Friday morning in my blog and on-air:

Saturday Night:  Rain and snow will develop late and change over to snow.

Sunday:  Moderate snow in the morning changing to rain in the afternoon.

Since the ground is still relatively warm and part of the precipitation will come down as a mix or rain, accumulations will mainly be on grassy and elevated surfaces.

We could anywhere for 1-3″ of slushy snow.  It’ll start to melt away during the afternoon.

Monday Night & Tuesday:  Wintry mix still possible.  It’s not looking too impressive this morning.

Wednesday and Wednesday Night bigger snow:  This may very well not happen!  Stay tuned.  The cold air will definitely be coming in late week!

However, since we may not get a blanket of snow Wednesday night and Thursday, lows later in the week may only drop into the teens and not the single digits.

If we get a blanket of snow Wednesday and Wednesday night, then lows in the single digits are still possible.

Stay up on the latest forecast.  This is a developing and changing weather pattern.

March Snow

ORIGINAL POST:  early Friday, December 2, 2016

After the third warmest November on record in the Quad Cities, winter will be making its return to Iowa and Illinois to welcome December.

Over the next week, we have three chances of seeing some snow accumulation.

Late Saturday night and early Sunday, snow may accumulate on grassy and elevated surfaces.  Early indications show an inch or two possible.  That will melt away Sunday.

winter

Another system could bring some grassy accumulation Monday night and early Tuesday.

However, we could be seeing a winter storm Wednesday and Wednesday night.  As of this writing, there is low confidence in the details and the models are not very consistent.

This will have to monitored closely because depending on how this develops, we could be talking little or no snow or a lot of snow.

One thing is certain.  Late next week, we’ll see the coldest blast of air this season with highs only in the lower half of 20s and lows could drop to the single digits!

Brrrrr!!!!!!

“LOVE IS THE CURE”

If you grew up in the 1970s and 1980s (and through “The Lion King” and “Candle in the Wind”, the 1990s), you have been touched by the genius of Elton John’s music.

During that same time period, you also heard a lot about Elton’s personal life since he was a pop music superstar.  That’s an understatement — he’s an icon.

He’s also a great humanitarian.  His 2012 book, “Love Is The Cure:  On Life, Loss, and the End of AIDS”, he shares the struggles he went through to give more of himself to fight HIV and AIDS.

Love is the Cure.jpg

If you missed my thoughts on Elton, the book, and “World AIDS Day”, here’s the link.

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2016/12/01/love-is-the-cure-to-end-aids/

After you read the touching stories in that blog, check out the book.  It’s an incredible read.

A MONSTER BEHIND THAT PRETTY SMILE

Since we’re talking about AIDS, Donald Trump’s Deputy National Security Adviser pick, Kathleen Troia “KT” McFarland is a monster behind that pretty smile.

kt

In 2006, when the New York Times Magazine was writing an article on McFarland, they found a 1992 letter she wrote to her parents shortly after finding out her brother, Michael Troia, had AIDS.

She reportedly wrote, “Have you ever wondered why I have never had anything to do with Mike and have never let my daughters see him although we live only fifteen minutes away from each other?”  She added, “He has been a lifelong homosexual, most of his relationships brief, fleeting one-night stands.

Michael died of AIDS in 1995.

McFarland goes on to elaborate and say that her father was an abusive parent, who beat them with belts and waved guns in their faces.

Responding to the allegations, her father denied them and offered to take a lie detector test.  Her other brother, Tom, living in Janesville, Wisconsin, at the time of the magazine article replied, “If I had one word to describe my sister, it would be ‘evil.’ ”

Not surprising, the people Trump has chosen for his cabinet are all anti-LGBT.

It’s going to be a fun four years!  (Note: sarcasm.)

THE WEEK OF TRUMP

Since I opened Pandora’s box by mentioning his name…

Pre-election, Donald Trump talked about a “rigged” election.  When he won the electoral vote, there was no big proclamations from Trump about the rigged elections.

Now that there’s talk of recounts in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Trump has plenty to say, especially in incoherent tweets and rants.

He’s even saying that millions of California votes are illegal.

Even in victory, he’s such a “sore loser”.  It might have something to do with the fact that he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by more than two million votes and that number is still climbing as votes are still being counted.  Little man!

Hey, Donald, why don’t we just have a total recount or better yet, why don’t we have another election before the holidays and monitor the voting process even closer.

DT Masks

One final note and I actually agree with Trump on this one:  Burning an American flag is just wrong (but allowed by the freedom of free speech).

flag

However, here’s where I disagree with him.

Being threatened with losing citizenship or being imprisoned for burning the American flag sounds a lot like Russia — but, then again, Donald and Russia are friends, so I hear!

ARETHA’S NATIONAL ANTHEM

“The Queen of Soul” is earning mixed reviews for her Thanksgiving Day performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Vikings-Lions football game.

The gospel-tinged song clocked in at 4 minutes and 35 seconds.

Comments on the performance have ranged from “stirring” and “memorable” to “punishingly long”.

YouTube “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” are two to one positive.

What do you think?

LOSING FAITH IN “THE WALKING DEAD”

Season 7 of “The Walking Dead” started off strong with the second highest ratings in the series history with 17 million viewers.

Last weekend’s episode dropped to the lowest ratings (10.4 million viewers) since season three when the ratings were still rising.

The fifth and sixth episodes this season were two of my least favorites.  Maybe I should look at it as a baseball game.  Those two episodes were strikes, so either this weekend, I need a base hit or I’m out.  I’m not interested in a foul or a ball.

Andrew Lincoln

Bring Rick (Andrew Lincoln) back and you’ll, at least, have my attention!

I’m not saying I want the show to be cancelled, but if it doesn’t come to life soon, maybe an end date should be set!

“CAPTAIN FANTASTIC”

As the days get shorter and winter settles in, we find ourselves watching more television and movies.

I highly recommend “Captain Fantastic”, which just hit DVD.

This little-seen movie in theaters is about a family living in the forests of the Pacific Northwest away from the trappings of modern life.

Viggo Mortensen plays Ben Cash, the father of six children, who has to decide how to keep his family together after the death of his wife.

It’s a shame that this movie only made $9 million in theaters.  It’s incredible and now you have a chance to see it at home.

Spoiler Alert:  Seeing Mortensen’s penis should NOT be reason enough for a warning at the beginning of the movie with “Brief Graphic Nudity”.  As his character says, “it’s just a penis!”

Wouldn’t “Brief Nudity” suffice?

By the way, on Thursday, Mortensen was nominated for a “Critics’ Choice Award” for “Best Actor in a Comedy”.  While I’m happy for the nomination, I have to ask, “comedy”???  There are funny scenes in the movie, but this leans more toward a drama to me.

Another great performance in the movie was from George McKay, who played Mortensen’s son, Bodevan.

GRADE:  A

“HELL OR HIGH WATER”

Since I just mentioned the “Critics’ Choice Award” nominations, “Hell Or High Water” was nominated for six — “Best Picture”, “Best Director”, “Best Original Screenplay”, Jeff Bridges and Ben Foster for “Best Supporting Actor”, and “Best Acting Ensemble”.

Chris Pine, Bridges, and Foster are incredible in this crime caper about a couple of brothers (Pine and Foster) on a bank robbing spree across west Texas.

Bridges plays a Texas Rangers nearing retirement when he gets the assignment of catching these small town crooks.

What makes this story compelling is learning the motivation of why the brothers need the money.

What’s also thrilling is that you know things will probably turn out badly for some or all of the characters.  It’s a crime drama, so don’t expect a truly happy ending.

GRADE:  B

BASHING “CHRISTIANS”

I love Christmas and I always smile when I hear people get bent out of shape about those who write “Merry Xmas”.  That takes “Christ” out of “Christmas”.

christ-in-chrismas

But, what about the “Christians”, who conveniently leave “Christ” our of their life.  Those are the ones I have issues with in this blog I shared last week.

Many have checked it out and here’s that link if you didn’t get a chance to read it.  (It’ll open in a new window, so you can continue reading today’s blog.)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2016/11/23/merry-xmas-christmas-to-all/

Happy  whatever you celebrate this holiday season!

ANOTHER CHANCE “THIS CHRISTMAS” FOR OLIVIA & JOHN

Each Christmas, I buy some of the new holiday offerings.  This year, I got “Glow” by Brett Eldredge and “A Very Kacey Christmas” by Kacey Musgraves and would recommend both of them.

I also bought the latest Straight No Chaser album, “I’ll Have Another…Christmas Album” and I really wish I had said, “No thanks.”

Don’t waste your time or money on it. Instead, pick up their other two Christmas albums, 2008’s “Holiday Spirits” or “Under The Influence:  Holiday Edition”.

Earlier this week, I also decided to give “This Christmas” by John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John from 2012 another listen.

I’ve avoided this album for four years now!

John Olivia Christmas

This is what I wrote about it at the time:  “I’ll get the bad news out of the way first and then focus on the good.  The opening song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, is probably the worst version I’ve ever heard.  As much as I love Olivia, she couldn’t get “Physical” enough to save this disaster!  Three songs later, “This Christmas” would have been better without John’s vocals.”

On the listen four years later, their version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is still painful and the worst version I’ve ever heard.

However, while Travolta is definitely the weak link and Olivia soars as usual, I enjoyed it a lot more this time and Travolta actually does a decent job on “Silent Night” and a few others.

What I wrote four years ago about “I Think You Might Like It” still holds true today, “It’s a very fun song and if I close my eyes while listening to it, I see Danny & Sandy in “Grease” dancing to it around the Christmas tree.

2012  GRADE:  C+

2016 GRADE:  B

ANOTHER TAKE ON OLIVIA’S “PHYSICAL”

I’ve never watched “The Real O’Neals” on ABC Tuesday nights, but this scene looks pretty funny and that so would have been me as a teenager if I had gone to a gym.

16-year-old Kenny (Noah Galvin) wants to check out the fitness center after seeing a sexy guy on the cover of a brochure.

This seems like the perfect time for the original again.

Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” was the biggest song of the 1980s.  It spent ten weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 from November 1981 to January 1982!

THAT’S IT

With all the craziness in the world, make it the best in your little part of it!

Anthony

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“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.

elton-john-costume

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.

elton_John_ryan_white

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.

love-is-the-cure

“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.

elton-hillary

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

World AIDS Day

Sadly, there are more than 1.1 million people in the United States that are HIV-positive and what’s scary is that 18% don’t even know that they are infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus infection), which can lead to AIDS.  That’s almost one-in-five people who don’t know they are HIV-positive!

Today, December 1, 2013, marks the 25th anniversary of “World AIDS Day”, which was started in 1988 to raise awareness to the spread of HIV and the AIDS pandemic.

world aids day

Here’s some sobering numbers for you:  AIDS is still a problem, even if it’s now treatable.  There were still 15,529 deaths in the U.S. from AIDS in the U.S. in 2010.

us-statistics-1

White gay and bisexual men are the groups with the highest new infection rates and black gay and bisexual men follow right behind.

THE BLACK AIDS INSTITUTE ANNOUNCE NEW TV CAMPAIGN

However, here’s something that needs to be addressed and people need to wake up.  While African-Americans make up 12% of the U.S. population, they account for 44% of new HIV cases in 2010/living with HIV.  And, Hispanics account for 16% of the U.S. population, but make up 21% of the new HIV cases/people living with HIV.

We’ve come a long way in the past 32 years, but we have a long way to go.

Flashback to the spring and early summer of 1981.  Doctors in New York and California started noticing that some of their young, gay patients were coming in with weakened immune systems and were developing pneumonia and cancer.

NYT

“The New York Times” published one of the first articles on this new disease that didn’t even have a name and was incorrectly labeled “GRID” (gay-related immune deficiency) in 1982.  It was changed to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) once doctors realized that it didn’t only affect gay men.

The early 1980s was a scary time because there was so much that doctors didn’t know about this “gay cancer”, as it was also called.  This led to fear and many misconceptions about who or how people could catch it.

Princess Diana

Ryan White Pic

Ryan White, an Indiana hemophiliac, contracted AIDS from a contaminated blood transfusion and he was diagnosed with the disease shortly after his 13th birthday during a partial-lung removal procedure.

His school refused to let him come back and the family was subjected to threats and a bullet was even fired into their living room forcing the family to leave Kokomo, Indiana.

Ryan White

Ryan died in April 1990 at the age of 18.

Jerry Falwell

Before Ryan White was diagnosed with AIDS in late 1984, Reverend Jerry Falwell in the summer of 1983 called AIDS, the “gay plague”.  He also made other ignorant and hateful comments about AIDS and gay people.

Falwell

Sept 1986, Ken Died 3 Days Later

In the early-and-mid-1980s, a diagnosis of AIDS was an almost certain death sentence.  Outside of large metropolitan cities, many in America still thought it was a strictly a disease that affected gay men.

Ronald Reagan and Jerry Falwell

In retrospective, that doesn’t seem illogical because President Ronald Reagan didn’t even mention AIDS publicly until 1987, six years after he began his presidency and AIDS went public!

corbis_rm_photo_of_ACT_UP_protest_banner

While the President chose to or just remained silent on the topic, the nation’s started talking in the summer of 1985 when one of America’s biggest movie stars of the 1950s and 1960s startled the world when he admitted that he had AIDS.

Roy Scherer, Jr., who was born outside of Chicago, moved to Los Angeles in 1946 to become an actor after serving in the U.S. Navy in Philippines during World War II.  His name was changed to Rock Hudson and he became a matinée idol and made several romantic-comedies, including a few with his dear friend, actress Doris Day.

Doris Day Rock Hudson

Hudson was a heartthrob — a tall drink of water at 6’5″ — and the magazines loved him.

Rock Hudson 1951

However, rumors that he was gay dogged him.  When “Confidential” magazine threatened to out him in 1955, he got married that same year and then divorced in 1958.

In 1956, Hudson was nominated for an Oscar for his role in “Giant” that also starred Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean.  He worked steadily in movies and television through 1985 and his last role was on “Dynasty” as Daniel Reece, the love interest of Linda Evan’s character, Krystle Carrington.

Rock Hudson Dynasty

While Hudson’s character was killed off in the spring of 1985, the gasp that could be heard around the world came months later, in July.  Hudson appeared in a promo to promote his friend, Doris Day’s new television show.

Doris Day Rock Hudson 1985

The actor appeared thin and unhealthy.  He spoke incoherently during the press event.  This led to widespread speculation about his health.  Days later he collapsed at a hotel in Paris, France, and his publicist, Dale Olson, denied that Hudson had AIDS and that he was suffering from inoperable liver cancer.

Four days later, on July 25, 1985, Olson admitted that Hudson had AIDS and that he had been diagnosed one year earlier and had been flying to Paris for treatments.

People Headline

Hollywood freaked out over this revelation, including some on the set of “Dynasty”.  However, it’s been reported that Linda Evans was not one of those people even though they shared intimate love scenes together.

At the time, some erroneously thought that you could contract AIDS through kissing.  YOU CANNOT GET AIDS FROM KISSING!  This is a perfect time for the facts about HIV and AIDS.

HIV HIV Prevention

On October 2, 1985, Rock Hudson died at home in his sleep in Beverly Hills, California.  He was 59.

Rock Hudson 1950s

Shortly before he died, Hudson sent a telegram to Commitment to Life, a Hollywood AIDS benefit, saying “I am not happy that I am sick. I am not happy that I have AIDS. But if that is helping others, I can at least know that my own misfortune has had some positive worth.”

Comedian Joan Rivers added, “Two years ago, when I hosted a benefit for AIDS, I couldn’t get one major star to turn out. … Rock’s admission is a horrendous way to bring AIDS to the attention of the American public, but by doing so, Rock, in his life, has helped millions in the process. What Rock has done takes true courage.”  And, actress Morgan Fairchild said that “Rock Hudson’s death gave AIDS a face.”

HOLLYWOOD EDUCATING AMERICA THROUGH MOVIES

While health officials worked tirelessly in the 1980s and 1990s to educate the public about HIV/AIDS, activists staged protests at government offices to work harder to fund research and to find a cure.

Slowly, Hollywood came around and “An Early Frost” on NBC in November 1985 was the first movie to address AIDS.

An Early Frost

34 million people tuned to see Aidan Quinn as a Chicago lawyer, who not only became ill with AIDS, but he also had to tell his parents (Ben Gazzara and Gena Rowlands) that he was gay.  The movie earned 14 Emmy nominations, winning three.

While it was the most watched show of the night beating out football and “Cagney & Lacey”, NBC lost $500,000 in commercial revenue because some clients were scared away by the subject matter.

Here are some other incredible Hollywood movies and television movies or series that excel at telling the HIV/AIDS story.

“Longtime Companion” (1989) is one of my all-time favorite movies.

While it was the first wide-release theatrical movie to address AIDS,  it only earned $4.6 million at the box office.  It stars Campbell Scott, Mary-Louise Parker, and Bruce Davison, who earned a Best Supporting Oscar nomination.

It follows a group of New York City friends from the 1981 beginning of the AIDS pandemic and shows how they learned to live, fight, and die from the disease.

Longtime Companion

“And The Band Played On”, a 1993 HBO movie, is probably the best historical movie for you to learn about the history of AIDS without it sounding like a boring history lesson.  The Emmy Award winning movie (it won three out of its 14 nominations) stars Matthew Modine, Alan Alda, Lily Tomlin, Richard Gere, and Phil Collins.

And, the book was written by Randy Shilts, who was born in Davenport, Iowa.

And-the-Band-Played-On

In 1993, “Philadelphia” became the most profitable AIDS movie in Hollywood history earning $206.7 million (almost $77 million of that was from the U.S.).

Tom Hanks won an Oscar playing a closeted lawyer at a big law firm, who is given the company’s biggest case only to have them fire him when a partner sees a lesion on his forehead and he is hospitalized.  He hires a homophobic, personal injury lawyer played by Denzel Washington.

Philadelphia

Another touching small theatrical movie, “The Cure”, tells the story of Dexter, a Midwestern boy who befriends his latch-key neighbor, Erik, who’s a little older.  Initially, Erik is afraid of Dexter and his disease.  But, the boys form a close friendship when they decide to travel down the Mississippi River to New Orleans to find a rumored cure for AIDS.

The Cure

Not all AIDS-related movie are dramas.  “Jeffrey”, a 1995 film by funny man Paul Rudnick, made about $3.5 million at the box office and stars Steven Weber and Michael T. Weiss.

Weber is Jeffrey, a New York City man who is scared of catching AIDS, so he gives up sex and then he meets Steve, the man of his dreams only to find out that Steve is HIV-positive.

The movie features an all-star cast including Patrick Stewart, Olympia Dukakis, Sigourney Weaver, Nathan Lane, Christine Baranski, and Kathy Najimy.

Jeffrey

The play, “Angels in America” blasted onto HBO in 2003 with a cast that included Al Pacino, Meryl Streep (playing four characters), Emma Thompson, Jeffrey Wright (also playing four characters), Mary-Louise Parker and Patrick Wilson.  The almost six-hour series earned 21 Emmy nominations and 11 wins, including acting awards for Pacino, Streep, Parker, and Wright.

Angels in America

And, in 2014, Ryan Murphy, the man behind the award-winning series, “American Horror Story” and “Glee”, will be directing the Larry Kramer-penned, Tony Award-winning play, “The Normal Heart”.

TheNormalHeart

The HBO movie stars Julia Roberts, Mark Ruffalo, Jim Parsons. Matt Bomer, and Taylor Kitsch, and focuses on the AIDS crisis in New York City in the early-1980s.

For those of you that don’t know him, Larry Kramer is and was one of the biggest health advocates in the history of HIV/AIDS and helped start the protest organization, ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), in early 1987.

“AND, THE ACADEMY AWARD FOR BEST ACTOR SHOULD GO TO…”

dallas_buyers_club

Matthew McConaughey for “Dallas Buyers Club”!

The movie is based on a true story.  Ron Woodruff was a homophobic, hard-living, good ol’ Texas boy who loved his liquor, drugs, and women.  In 1986, he was diagnosed with AIDS and told that he had 30 days to live.

He tried to get on the AZT trials that were being rushed onto the market to fight the AIDS pandemic.  Since he was denied that opportunity, Woodruff started buying it on the black market.  When he almost died, he came up with a plan to smuggle medications out of Mexico to try to stay alive.  Since Ron couldn’t sell the drugs, he started a membership only “buyers club” to distribute the Food & Drug Administration-unapproved medication.

DALLAS-BUYERS-CLUB

McConaughey, who plays Woodruff, lost about 50 pounds for the role and his co-star, Jared Leto, who plays transgender AIDS patient, Rayon, who befriends Woodruff, lost about 40 pounds for the role.

Both actors were electrifying and sold the story.  After initially gasping at McConaughey’s first appearance in the movie, I was sold for the next two hours that both actors were HIV-positive people fighting for their lives, while the government dragged its feet.

If you lived through the 1980s and saw friends getting sick and dying, you saw those friends in Ron and Rayon.  If you know people who have become HIV-positive in the past decade, where with medication, healthier living, diet, and exercise, it’s become a manageable disease, there’s a sense of relief that AIDS is no longer a certain death sentence.

GRADE:  A

MUSICIAN LEND A VOICE, TOO

Madonna, George Michael, Cyndi Lauper, the Pet Shop Boys, and many other musicians have recorded songs about HIV and AIDS and losing friends or lovers to the disease.

In 1986, Elton John was joined by Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder on “That’s What Friends Are For”.  That Grammy Award-winning song reached #1 and raised over $3 million dollars for the American Foundation for AIDS Research, a nonprofit organization founded by some leading AIDS specialist and actress Elizabeth Taylor.

Six years later, Elton John founded the nonprofit organization, the Elton John AIDS Foundation.  His 1992 hit, “The Last Song”, about a father and son reuniting before the son died of AIDS, was the first of Elton’s American singles to benefit his AIDS foundation.

While pop music embraced the fight against HIV/AIDS and lent a voice, it took the biggest name in country music almost twenty years ago to release a song that was controversial in that musical genre to put a heterosexual face to AIDS.

Reba She Thinks His Name Was John

Typically, summer radio is filled with bubbly, fun songs.  However, in 1994, Reba McEntire serviced “She Thinks His Name Was John” to country radio as the second single from “Read My Mind”.   The song tells the story of a woman, who is dying alone of AIDS after an alcohol-fueled one night stand a few years earlier.

The song only reached #14 on the Billboard County charts.  But, it opened eyes in a genre that was used to drinking songs, but not one with the horrors of a disease that affected a large number of gay men.

While things are changing, there’s still a long way to go in the fight against HIV and AIDS.  And, we still need to educate people.

Annie Lennox

Back in 2010, Annie Lennon of the Eurythimics wore a “HIV Positive” shirt on “Idol Gives Back”.  This prompted many to think that she was ill.

She replied, “I can tell you the good news is actually I am not. However, many people are. In fact, 22 million in sub-Saharan Africa are currently HIV positive.  And I am wearing this in solidarity with them because it’s very hard when you are HIV positive to be open about your status and to be able to tell your family and your friends.”

Annie Lennox

Red Ribbon

You may not see many people these days wearing red ribbons to raise awareness, but more people than ever are getting infected with HIV.  Last year, around the world, 2.3 million people were newly affected!

hiv_013

Since 1981, more than 636,000 people have died from AIDS in the United States.  If those numbers don’t wake you up, try these:

AmFAR Stats

On this “World AIDS Day”, remember those who have lost the battle with AIDS.  Whether you know it or not, I can almost guarantee that you know someone who is HIV-positive or that you will in the future.

STOP AIDS

Abstaining from sex is what some tell you to do.  That works.  However, if you’re going to be sexually active, protect yourself.  Use condoms!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that “Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing the sexual transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.”

HIV and AIDS are preventable.  Be safe.  It’s not just a slogan!

Anthony

A Solemn December 1st

If you’re celebrating a birthday today, “Happy Birthday”.  If it’s your anniversary, “Happy Anniversary”.  And, if you’re going to be busy decorating or shopping for Christmas, “Happy Holidays”.

Although I think of my friends that are HIV-positive all the time, I really take time to think of the people who I’ve known that have died of AIDS on December 1st, “World AIDS Day”.

“World AIDS Day” was conceived by two public information officers for the Global Programme on AIDS at the World Health Organization, James Bunn and Thomas Netter.  It was first observed on December 1, 1988.

The purpose is to raise awareness of AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) and the spread of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), which attacks the body’s immune system.

Granted you may not know anyone personally that has died of AIDS, but it’s likely that you know someone who is HIV-positive.  Across the globe, 34 million people are positive.  And, here’s something scarier than that:  a majority of all HIV infections are passed on by people who DON’T even know they are HIV-positive!!!

From 1981-2007, more than 25 million people died from AIDS making it the “most destructive pandemic in history”.

Back in the 1980s and for part of the 1990s, developing AIDS was almost a certain death sentence.  It still is in many underdeveloped countries and here in the United States for people not on medication.  However, with proper medication and a healthier lifestyle, most people who become HIV-positive can still lead a long life and most will likely die from another cause later in life.

Knowing how the virus is spread and debunking myths are two of the most effective ways to beat HIV.

More than 90% of people who are HIV-positive were infected through sexual contact.  The following graphic may be too blunt for some, but I won’t apologize for that.

And, just as important to know how you can contract the virus, you should know how it isn’t spread!

Also, you  should know that HIV and AIDS are NOT the same thing.  A person who is HIV-positive may never develop AIDS.

Each year, since 2007, a 28-foot tall red ribbon is displayed at the White House for World AIDS Day.  And, since 1995, every U.S. president has read a proclamation.  Here is the link for this year’s proclamation from President Barack Obama:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/11/29/presidential-proclamation-world-aids-day-2012

Together

The road to educating the public about HIV and AIDS has been a long and deadly one.  For much of the 1980s into the 1990s, AIDS was incorrectly known as a “gay disease” or “gay cancer”.  And, although AIDS was first recognized and became public in the summer of 1981, it took President Reagan years to even mention it to Americans.  I blogged about this back in July.  Here is the link to that story:

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/president-reagan-i-no-longer-hate-you/

On this day of compassion for those living with HIV or AIDS, there is another reason to be solemn in a non-related story.  Today would have been Matthew Shepard’s 36th birthday.

My October 7, 2012 blog about Matthew’s tragic death:  https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/10/07/a-sad-senseless-way-to-die/

Anthony