This I Believe

Kelly - Blanchard, Oklahoma
Entered on October 1, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe I have a purpose to stop discrimination.

At my particular high school, all seniors were required to do a graduation project. The project could consist of pretty much anything, as long as it showed your eagerness and best ability of work. I decided to put together a project for World AIDS Day, which is on December 1st. My uncle had died from AIDS the year before and I wanted to do something in remembrance of him. I also thought that it would be a challenging and rewarding project.

I asked students to buy t-shirts for five dollars and to wear them on National AIDS Day. Once I collected all the money, I designed the t-shirts and purchased them. After that, I made informational pamphlets on facts about HIV and AIDS, along with places to get tested and where to go for questions or help. I also designed and purchased National AIDS Day stickers online, made red ribbons and decorated National AIDS Day posters to put around my school.

I was eager for December 1st. I had put a lot of hard work into that special day. There were over 150 people that bought t-shirts from me- students, teachers, friends, family and even my co-workers. On National AIDS Day, almost everyone in my school was either wearing a National AIDS t-shirt, sticker, or ribbon. I saw none of my pamphlets in the trash, but I saw many students reading the pamphlets at lunch and in the hallways. I was proud of myself for spreading awareness of AIDS to people who might not have ever thought about recognizing the disease.

I was walking in the hallway when I overheard a conversation between two students. They were making fun of the students who were wearing the AIDS t-shirts. One boys exact words were, ” Why would you wear a t-shirt to support a queer who gets AIDS from having ass sex”?

Maybe teenagers are just immature, or maybe they don’t understand AIDS. Maybe they don’t know that most children in Africa who are born with AIDS aren’t gay, and didn’t chose to have the fatal disease. Maybe they don’t understand that AIDS is spreading through every country and thousands of people are dying every year.

I believe I have a purpose to stop discrimination. Believing that everyone who has AIDS is gay is not correct. Not speaking, touching or acknowledging someone with AIDS is also not correct. The main problem with our society is not knowing what HIV or AIDS is. A phrase that was put on my t-shirts had a lot of people wondering what it meant- “Ignorance is NOT Bliss”. What you don’t know WILL hurt you. The more information and facts you learn about AIDS will allow you to broaden your mind and become more accepting of individuals with the disease. Many countries have enforced legislation to protect the rights and the freedoms of people living with HIV and AIDS and to also protect them from discrimination, but there will always be people who discriminate no matter what the circumstances are. I wish that people would have a better understanding of others with unfortunate diseases. I hope, that one day, everyone with HIV or AIDS will be looked at as heroes for being so courageous for fighting their deathly disease.