I have about 35 million reasons why I want to help eliminate AIDS. One of those reasons hit close to home when I was younger.
My personal reason
The battle against HIV is a personal one for me. When I was twelve years old, my cousin Jaime died of AIDS. I remember finding out. Like many historical moments we internalize, my memory of where I was and what I was doing is etched in my mind. I was in the airport, seeing my older brother off on a flight. Perhaps it was significant that he was on his way to begin his medical career. My father came over to me with the news after speaking with someone on the payphone. Jaime died. I felt so shocked and helpless. It is a memory and a feeling I will never forget.
Jaime, was a physician, a kind-hearted man who dedicated his life caring for others. But in the last years of his life he had to rely on others to care for him. This was at a difficult time when the stigma, fear and misinformation surrounding AIDS was at a peak. Relatives, out of fear of “catching” the disease, were afraid to go near Jaime in his final days.
I felt many things when I learned of his passing. Mainly I felt sad, angry and helpless. But I vowed I would do something about it. Nearly fifteen years later, I founded Medwiser.
A shared experience
When I think back on how I felt that day in the airport, when when I found out about Jaime dying of AIDS, I didn’t know that my experience would be shared by millions of other people around the world who lost their loved ones to AIDS. Today, I know that it is.
35 million lives
There is nothing we can do the bring Jamie, or the nearly 35 million people have passed from AIDS, back. However, I am proud to be involved with figuring out ways to ensure that others don’t have to go through what my family and I went through when we lost Jaime.