When I was a little kid, we were taught about the holocaust in hebrew school. A lot. When I asked why, my teachers would say, “because it could happen again.”
Then when I was an adult, in medical school, I learned they were right.
It was unbelievable as much as the Quilt is unbelievable. It’s on display across Washington, DC, for the month of July, the first time since 1992.
I saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears how people with HIV and AIDS were treated by the profession I was training in. Think of an image of having a back turned to you in your time of greatest need. Those in the profession who did treat these people with compassion had backs turned on them, too. People sometimes talk about this time as the “height” of the epidemic. At the time, though, no one knew it was the height of anything, people were dying, there was no end in sight, and because they were legally discriminated against in all parts of society, their lives were less precious.
Look at the ages of the people represented – 25, 27, 34, 26. Pedro Zamora, activist and leader – 22 years old. Had he survived another year or two, he might have made it.
If our health system does not focus on the people it’s serving instead of the system itself, and our society doesn’t value every life as equal, this will happen again. Can’t let it.
“As gay young people, we are marginalized. As young people who are HIV-positive and have AIDS, we are totally written off.” – Pedro Zamora, 1972-1994