Monday, December 1

Asking Danny: World AIDS Day


In the early 1990s, I began my first formal research into AIDS and what it meant for the United Way of Southern Nevada. And like so many subjects that I've studied over the years as a communicator and commercial copywriter, I learned that for everything I thought I knew about AIDS, I didn't know anything at all.

Ignorance comes in many colors. And for me at the time, I was already colored by hard facts and cold statistics. I thought I knew a lot, but I didn't know anything at all. Looking around the Web today, many bloggers participating in Bloggers Unite for World AIDS Day say they feel colored too.

Most of them are blogging about the hard facts and statistics provided by AIDS.gov — that there are an estimated one million Americans living with HIV in the United States and an estimated 33 million people worldwide. Some are turning to other sources like the Respect Project — that says approximately 80,000 people are living with HIV in the UK with about one-third not knowing they are infected. And a few might stumble upon some lesser known facts like I recently did after meeting with a local organization, Aid for AIDS of Nevada (AFAN), in southern Nevada — that nearly half of all new AIDS cases are people 13 to 24 years of age in the United States.

It's all useful, relative, and will help increase awareness. But what does it mean?

For me, it means that one person who I interviewed in the early 1990s taught me what I really need to know. His name was Danny Marks. And the copy I wrote for the United Way of Southern Nevada, specifically to increase donations for AFAN, remains a painful reminder that power of the communication doesn't always rely on hard facts and cold statistics as much as it relies the one willing to share a story.

Ask Danny. AIDS Kills.

No. Danny Marks isn't HIV Positive. His brother is.

And when Danny brought the issue home to Nevada Power, employee donations to the United Way increased by 14.7 percent.

Why? Danny told them the truth — without their support, the United Way can't help organizations like AFAN. And without AFAN, his brother would have given up.

What else did he say? You already know someone who is HIV positive. They just haven't told you.

In remembrance of the Marks story.

It saddens me to think that I really don't know what happened to Danny Marks or his brother since then. I fear the worst, but hope for the best.

What I do know though is that one advertisement went on to set record donations for AFAN through the United Way that year. And this year, I hope it encourages more of the same — if not in hard dollar donations to organizations like AFAN then by helping build awareness about AIDS.

The best thing you can do about AIDS is to be tested and practice prevention. If you are not willing to do it for yourself, do it for real people like Danny Marks and his family. They didn't think much about AIDS either until his brother tested positive.

We can make a difference. One person at a time, starting with you.

Digg!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

A very compelling post and a real eye opener. Thank you and keep up the good work.

Rich on 12/1/08, 2:31 PM said...

Thank you Anon,

Alas, the real heroes are all those who participate, those who manage to survive it, and the families who support their loved ones. I'm merely one in a campaign where so many deserve attention, but thank you.

World AIDS Day Google Search results: 1.2 million Web results, 8700 news results, and 330,000 blog results.

All my best,
Rich

Web-Betty on 12/1/08, 7:47 PM said...

My youngest brother-in-law hid his HIV from his family for probably years. It wasn't until he was hospitalized that we learned the truth. His denial and avoidance caught up with him and his HIV turned to AIDS.

I posted "Dispelling 3 myths about AIDS/HIV".

Rich on 12/1/08, 8:19 PM said...

Web Betty,

When you mentioned this the other day, I kept those thoughts close to my hear in writing this. You can count on the fact that I'll be visiting and reading your post.

I might have cause to speak to you more about this in the near future as well. My thoughts and prayers remain with him and your family.

All my best,
Rich

Post a Comment

 

Blog Archive

Google+ Followers

by Rich Becker Copyright © 2010 Designed by Bie Blogger Template