December 1 is World AIDS day.
A day to draw attention to the constant need for research, funding and education to ensure people who are confronted by this disease are not alone. To ensure they have resources, regardless of their socioeconomic status. To ensure they seek treatment regardless of the stigma still attached.
A day to embrace those who courageously fight this disease with honor, dignity and most of all, compassion.
I am often asked why I created a heroine for a romance series who is HIV positive. I always think about that question and I smile, because when I think of Brittany, her HIV is not the first thing that comes to mind.
Brittany is HIV positive. She is also a brilliant doctor, a caring friend, a talented singer, a loving wife and a proud mother. She is also a survivor. She is also arrogant at times and fiery and combative. She is fiercely loyal and independent and she has the ability to set aside emotion and deal with the most emotional of all events.
Brittany is HIV positive, and I am proud of her. I am proud of her defying stereotypes that need to be put far out of the minds of our society. People live long and amazing lives while HIV positive and the advancements we have made medically give hope that there WILL be a cure for this disease.
Women who are HIV positive are giving birth to HIV negative babies all the time and men and women who are in monogamous relationships can have an amazing connection; sexual, emotional and safe.
Thanks to education and medication, men and woman are able to conceive a child naturally and safely where they weren’t able to before.
I write Brittany because her story needs to be told. The stigma surrounding sexual assault must be eradicated and women and men must feel that they can lead productive and valuable lives because they deserve to be here.
People who made choices in their lives that led to contracting HIV need to know that they are valuable members of society who deserve to be here. They are not shameful. They are people who carry a heavy burden, much as we all do, but some of us have an easier time hiding it.
I also write Brittany so I could write Tommy, and Jack and Stephanie and Bill and Julie and Jade and Mike and Evan and everyone who loves her and respects her and shows us that there are good people in the world who do the right thing. There are people in the world who fight for those who have trouble fighting for themselves. There are people in this world that make a difference.
I write Brittany because I believe in her and I believe in the “Brittany’s” out there who deserve a hero who looks like them. I want people to identify with Brittany, not because she is HIV positive, but because she is flawed and humble and funny and exasperating. I want people to fall in love with Tommy because of how he adores her and I want people to believe in love and romance and that sometimes, when we think we have nothing to offer, we find just how much the world needs someone just like us. I want people to find their “Red”.
World AIDS Day.
One day, I hope it’s simply December 1, and AIDS is a thing of the past.
Wouldn’t that be something.