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How AIDS Has Touched Me on World AIDS Day

December 1, 2009

My former colleague, Burke Stone was one of my favorite people when I lived in DC. There was no one more enthusiastic when it came to finding a story. There was no one more sincere.

He liked me in spite of the fact that I was less than flattering when he started speaking about Tony Bennett one day. In my mind TB was old school. That’s in spite of the fact that I kept running into him along my travels—at the West Palm Beach airport, a few seats away from my breakfast dining table in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

I later found out that Burke was speaking about Tony as a prelude to inviting me to go to a concert with him. My pointed remarks kept him from doing so. When I found out, I ended up inviting Burke to a benefit featuring none other than the man who left his heart in San Francisco. We had a blast.

Only a few months later I was visiting him in his hospital room, He did not recognize me. The AIDS virus had decimated his brilliance. He died a few days later with his loving Mother by his side.

I would see how AIDS destroys, again, when I went to Zimbabwe. Soon after arrival I heard the term, “child-headed” household for the very first time.

Lineah Mazambuka is one of those children. I followed her to her tiny village and watched as she joyfully brought food, to a family of siblings and a grandmother, that totally depended on her. Lineah’s own parents had been killed off by AIDS. I checked, the cupboards were completely bare prior to our arrival. I was so pleased that I could help provide them with more food.

As I write about controlling myself so I don’t eat too much food, I want to remember that there are millions of people around the world that are not eating because they can’t. Food shortages have an especially detrimental impact on AIDS.

How has AIDS touched you?

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