Today I got word from a close friend that Michael, a good friend of his, died a few days ago after battling AIDS for many years.
I knew Michael a little, having met him several times at parties that our mutual friend had thrown. He looked healthy. I had no idea he was fighting AIDS.
One of the challenges with AIDS is that these days, with the antivirals, it’s an invisible disease. People who contract HIV don’t get horribly thin, ill-looking, and die – instead, with the help of medications, they can live healthy. Some are even lucky enough to be able to ride AIDS Lifecycle with us. That’s a wonderful thing – the age when people who contracted HIV were dead within a few years is gone – but it has helped us become complacent about AIDS, as if it were no big deal. “Oh, I’ll just take medications,” young gay men think. Well, AIDS isn’t as easy as that. My friends who live with HIV have to take medications to manage the side effects of medications that manage the side effects of their HIV medications. They have to monitor their T-cells and their virus counts, and change cocktails as their virus evolves ways around the drugs. If a cocktail fails, they are that much closer to losing their battle with HIV.
The bottom line is, AIDS kills. And, invisibly, it goes on doing so.
This year, in addition to the many HIV+ friends I ride for every year, I will be riding in memory of Michael Bailey. Please consider sponsoring me at http://www.aidslifecycle.org/1017 .