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Posts Tagged ‘World AIDS Day’

I was in Hawaii on a family vacation in the spring of 1991 when I heard the news that put me into a very sad and contemplative mood for the rest of the trip and for the weeks that followed.  I can still remember the moment that I heard the news.

I was alone in the condo because I was exhausted and I needed to get some rest.  I stayed behind while my (then) husband and the kids went out for the afternoon.  I had the TV on but wasn’t really paying attention.  I remember that it was a telethon or some such show to raise money for AIDS research/awareness.  I was drifting in and out of sleep when I heard Richard Thomas say something to the effect of “in memory of the late Arturo Islas whom we just lost.  His death is a great loss to the world of literature.”  I jumped up out of bed.  I couldn’t believe it.  Not Arturo.

Arturo Islas was one of my literature professors at Stanford Universiy.  He was a very quiet, intelligent, and supportive man.  At the time that he was my professor, he was working on the first of his three novels (the last was published post-humously).  He would read to us from his works in progress and we’d discuss the writing then he would give us a related assignment.  He was very supportive of his students.  He was a prince of a man.  (For a post about Arturo Islas, on this blog, click HERE.)

Arturo grew up in El Paso, Texas.  He suffered from colitis and eventually had to have a colostomy while he was in college.  His family was not well off but he excelled in his academics to the point of being awarded a four year scholarship to Stanford University where he planned on becoming a neurosurgeon.  By the time he graduated with a Bachelors degree in English Literature (and a minor in Religion) in 1960, he had decided to pursue a career in literature.  He came back to Stanford to begin work on a Masters degree in English Literature then he completed his Ph.D in English Literature.  He was the first Chicano to have gained a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. on scholarship from Stanford University.  He went on to become the first Chicano faculty member at Stanford and the first tenured Chicano professor at Stanford.

I wish I could describe this gentle yet strong being that supported his students yet demanded excellence from them.  I wish I could share him with you.  I wish he still walked the earth.  He had so much to teach us when he was taken from us at the age of 51.  It was a great loss for us all.

Arturo Islas is only one of many.  Millions have died of AIDS.  In 2008 alone, there were TWO MILLION deaths attributed to HIV/AIDS.

When will it stop?

Today is World AIDS Day.  What can YOU do to help raise awareness?  What can YOU do to stop the spread of AIDS/HIV?

Some links:

World Vision-World AIDS Day

I Am Africa (buy clothing to support stopping the spread of AIDS in Africa)

Avert.org World AIDS Day

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC World AIDS Day)

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