Exceptional bravery, courage to stand up when others sat down, the ability to know where you belong and to fight for those you believe in are all the ways to describe Ruth Cocker Burks. I am old enough to remember the AIDS crisis and when you really think about it, so many of the circumstances we found ourselves to be in now, are the same we experienced today with the Covid crisis.
Misinformation, scare tactics, panic that we all were destined to die were things that Ruth fought day and out. It was and still is the unknown that pushes us into overload and allows our empathy and caring to diminish so that we allow people to die alone. It is something that we should never have forgotten and yet here we are.
Ruth took up a cause, one that she believed in, one in which she gave honor and respect to those who were so very sick and dying. Ruth was opininless about the culture of people who were so susceptible to AIDS. She embraced them with love and respect and no matter what obstacles she faced, she went forth fighting tooth and nail for these young men.
This was a story of tragedy, of a society that seemed to feel you get what you deserve, one that broke many a heart of the victims, the men they loved, and their families. It was a story of mothers and fathers deserting their offspring because of lifestyle. It was also a story of fear, the type of fear that made us so afraid that medical personal wouldn’t treat AIDS patients, or people would not go near anyone because of the fear engendered into society by unknown facts or facts that were not disseminated to the public.
However, Ruth, indomitable in a battle she was determined to win, would not be stopped. You could shun her and her young daughter, ( and many did go as far as burning crosses on her lawn), but in the end, she became someone so important and loved by the gay community, a definite woman of substance.
If you are looking for a book that indeed shows us how one person can and did make a difference to those who were dying and doomed because of knowledge that wasn’t given to them, then this book deserves a place on your shelf. You will feel as I do, we definitely need more Ruth’s in the world and the ability to always know ALL the facts and not be fueled by speculation and the incorrect information we are often fed.
Can’t recommend this book more highly.
- In 2019, 38 million people were living with HIV.
- In 2019, 1.7 million people became newly infected with HIV. This represents a decline in annual new infections of 23% since 2010, a pace far too slow to reach the United Nations’ Fast-Track Target of fewer than 500,000 new infections per year by 2020.
- In some regions of the world, new HIV infections are increasing. Since 2010, there has been a 72% increase in new infections in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, a 22% increase in the Middle East and North Africa, and a 21% increase in Latin America.
- Annual deaths from AIDS-related causes have declined by 39% since 2010, from 1.2 million in 2010 to 690,000 in 2019. Reaching the 2020 milestone of fewer than 500,000 deaths will require a significantly sharper decline in the global rate.
- At the end of 2019, 25.4 million people living with HIV were accessing antiretroviral therapy, up from 17.2 million in 2015 and 7.7 million in 2010.
- Of all people living with HIV in 2019, 81% knew their status, 67% were accessing treatment, and 59% were virally suppressed.
- Since the beginning of the pandemic, 75.7 million people have become infected with HIV and 32.7 million have died of AIDS-related illnesses.
- and after nineteen years, there is still no vaccine