You may have 'heard me' say this before; "If HIV AIDS were easily transmissible, I would be dead by now".
I say it because it's true.
I was 'in' biomedicine in the years immediately preceding the full 'out-cropping' of this horrific disease, during which time I literally handled and processed as many as twenty liters at a time of pooled human blood serum for 'cell culture' at Sloan-Kettering.
We all knew what we were exposing ourselves to potentially and we all knew what the risks were.
Prior to the full-emergence of 'AIDS', our main concerns in the lab were the usual blood-borne infectious agents such as hepatitis, reasonably well-understood and accepted 'risks'.
My technique was always excellent, but one can never discount the occasional bad-luck, unavoidable 'accident', such as a slip or spill or 'needle stick'.
Thank God I never suffered one of those, although in those late-70's/early 80's years I didn't do much praying (or any) for I was yet a proud atheist-agnostic back then.
Coincidentally, a few years later, AIDS as a 'community concern' was just rearing it's head where I was living in Stamford, CT and a 'new Christian'.
You can believe that few 'knew' about AIDS and HIV in those days and even 'fewer' cared about it, if they did. And NO ONE wanted to 'work' with HIV+ patients if they could avoid it.
But my universe was working with homeless individuals, female prostitutes, male prostitutes and many i.v. drug users.
So there was no escaping anything related to that emerging terror known as 'AIDS'.
In my capacity first as a 'secretary' and then as a Soldier in The Salvation Army...I was there on the front lines.
I didn't want to be and I didn't ask to be, but I was immersed up-to-my-eyeballs when 'AIDS' first reared it's head in our area.
I was there when the first few clinic patients walked into my office for a counseling session, test results in hand and 'collapsed' in grief, misery, fear and disbelief.
These poor souls were amongst the first to be diagnosed as 'HIV Positive' and who were struggling to know 'what does that mean'? And they were amongst 'the first' to be modern-day 'lepers' as far as society was concerned.
I write about this in detail in my upcoming book 'ENTERTAINING ANGELS' LINK: http://dearoneshealingministry.blogspot.com/2010/01/entertaining-angels-book-by-former_27.html
You will read about those 'first' heart wrenching months when we began regular HIV testing. You will read how exposed I was to the body fluids and substances of HIV+ individuals who were 'acting out' due to concurrent psychiatric issues.
No distinction was made back then between 'HIV Positive' and 'AIDS', but you can imagine where my biochemist's mind was going each time a situation presented itself.
You will read how I clutched a dear HIV+ lady to myself, resulting in my having a soaked-to-the-skin tear-drenched blouse and slip as I consoled her and she asked me to 'explain her test results'.
In those early days of AIDS, you will read how I managed to get my own personal physician (a Stamford doctor many of you know!) to volunteer in our Clinic downstairs and how he monitors me to this day.
And you will read how I 'gave permission' for the very first 'AIDS SUPPORT GROUP' to meet in the 'conference room' across from my tiny Salvation Army office on the first floor on (the old) Beehler Street HQ (Headquarters).
Finally, you will read about my 'crisis pregnancy work' of many years wherein I was just as likely to 'send a gal for a pregnancy test' as I was to send her for an 'AIDS test' and the agony of waiting it all out.
You will read of the shock and disbelief of those early days when few acknowledged, let alone understood, the vagaries of this multi-faceted, multi-formed Human Immunodeficiency Virus in all its 'incarnations'.
No one wanted to 'be involved' back then. Everyone was 'afraid' and those who say otherwise are not being truthful.
My story needs to be told of the emergence of AIDS in Fairfield County, CT. The 'early days' of this socio-medical saga must not be forgotten or glossed over, or, worse still, ignored.
It is a tale of fear turned to hope, and of prejudice turned to compassion.
And in it lies hope and guidance for dealing with what the future may hold.
God Bless You this World AIDS DAY 2010 & every day
Reverend Barbara Sexton
"The Biblical Biochemist-Where Science Meets the Cross"
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