As GayPatriot brilliantly puts it:
In remembrance of those of friends and the faceless, family and strangers who lost their lives to this terrible epidemic.
In celebration to those who live productive lives with HIV and those who love and care for them daily.
And I add: in thanks to those who give of themselves, in time, talent, and treasure, to both combat the disease and assist its casualties.
As we go through this day, I would ask you to consider the case of Father Angelo D'Agostino -- and the reality of the AIDS epidemic that it represents.
There are those who view HIV/AIDS as God's judgment upon the planet, a terrible swift sword wielded against those who break His laws and commandments. The suffering of the infected is nothing more than they deserve, the consequences of their decision to have sex and use drugs; justice requires their punishment.
At the same time, there are those who view HIV/AIDS as an unnecessary constraint, an unfair obstacle placed in the way of uninhibited sexual expression. The suffering of the infected is a travesty, a plot created and backed by the religious right and conservatives, who either created the disease, withhold funds for curing it, and who repress sex out of envy and loathing for those who do not and who glory in its sensations and desire.
And the children of Nyumbani sit in the middle -- condemned for crimes that they did not, could not have committed, paying for pleasures that they did not, could not, receive. They are both the scapegoats for their parents' bad decisions and the ones left paying the debt for their parents' choice of expenditures.
That is in no way just or fair.
And neither is HIV.
Were it God's way of punishing the guilty or the religious right's way of limiting sexual pleasure to procreation only, these children would not have it. Like a terrorist who hides behind our Constitutional protections, the virus is more than willing to exploit our squabblings over ideology to spread itself to both the holy and the hedonistic without care for the beliefs of its host.
HIV is neither divine retribution for sins or an unnecessary obstacle to unlimited sexual pleasure. It is a reminder to us that the act of sex is one with the power of life and death, and as such, carries extraordinary consequences. It screams at us, not to cease or overindulge, but to consider our actions and think through them.
The children of Nyumbani represent neither the punishment of sin or the repression of freedom, but the natural outgrowth of sex.
Keep that in mind today.