John Voelcker writes in the Huffington Post about Spencer Cox, the AIDS activist who died last month at 44, and Cox's onetime proposal for an organization called Medius Institute for Gay Men's Health which would improve the "health, well-being and longevity of gay men in mid-life," specifically those who lived through the AIDS epidemic.
We hear a lot about "wounded warriors" with regard to American military battles overseas, and and justifiably so. It's devastating for young men and women to watch as trusted comrades are grievously hurt or killed at their side. It's equally devastating to return to a society that honors veterans for a day, then expects them to act "normal" and resume life as the same people they were before the war. While the life-long disabilities they suffer may be politely overlooked, it's clear that they're expected to shield the memories, losses and fears brought back from the battlefield.
But for military veterans, there's a $140-billion Veteran's Administration to thank them, care for them and minister to their needs. The veterans of our own war here at home aren't so lucky.
There are the hundreds of thousands of men and women who survived the worst of the AIDS epidemic during the 1980s and 1990s. They are the wounded warriors of our fight. And they have no such support — especially those who've lived with HIV for 15 years or more. Whether HIV-positive or negative, many of them suffer what would likely be defined as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Their rates of dysthymia and depression are higher, they may engage in unsafe sex, and a few of those with HIV inexplicably stop taking the lifesaving anti-retroviral medications that saved their lives 15 years ago. Men who know the rules of safe sex may test positive after staying negative for three decades.
Is it time to resurrect the idea of such an organization?
Voelcker's full piece here.