Thanksgiving to World AIDS Day

Thank you. Thank you for acknowledging the power of a virus to ravage lives. Thank you for extending compassion to every human being, protec...

Friday, January 1, 2010


Last night, I lost mine. Weekly air commuting never won me any brownie points with Al Gore but it did earn me MVP Gold status on Alaska Air. For 5 years I delighted in short-cuts through SeaTac security lines, first class upgrades and no change fees but this year I was grounded, so begin 2010 as a mere MVP.

Interesting how status is so often used to categorize treatment of people in general; an easy way to conserve the time and energy of considering their value as unique individuals. HIV status is no exception. In fact, it proves the rule in striking and often frightening ways.

Such stigma is attached to an HIV+ status that creative screening methods had to be introduced in countries where even walking into a testing facility could mark you for shunning. The developed world was rightfully stunned by Uganda's recent consideration of a bill that essentially forces HIV status declarations in an effort to imprison and even put to death individuals accused of homosexuality. Yet those stunned individuals need look no further than their own neighborhoods to witness an HIV+ status causing a family, church or community to reject their own at precisely the time their support is most needed.

Society will never eliminate the need to categorize certain treatments by status. I’ll miss jumping to the front of those security lines but lucky for me, Alaska Air delivers top-notch service to every passenger despite their member status. In all cases of status, whether economic, societal, legal or otherwise, we must be diligent to never lose sight of individual self-worth.