World AIDS Day
World AIDS Day is Dec. 1, as it is recognized each year since 1988. I would like to remind this community of this date and what it signifies: raising awareness, education and fighting prejudice.
HIV is a disease, nothing more than just what it is. It's a chronic disease that is manageable with medication therapy -- no difference from hypertension, diabetes or arthritis, to name a few.
HIV has not gone away as it continues to reach into every corner of Hot Springs. This disease is not in the media or newspapers as it once was years ago, but it's still here and has grown to include all areas of this city.
The stigma associated with HIV is very real and that's unacceptable now. There are over 385 people infected here that are documented. We can only speculate how many people are out there who don't know their status for whatever reason.
I want to remind you these people are your mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and children ... do you fall into one of these categories?
As a society, we are failing our future generations of young people. I believe it should start at home with parents, but it's not happening as it should.
Communication is the key as it is in many areas. Don't expect someone else to do it. Our public school systems need to address real-world issues and not attempt to be socially correct and not offend someone. All our churches need to be open with their congregations. The fastest population of new infections are in the 16- to 24-year-old range and 65 and older. Our youngest person to test positive was a 14-year-old in one of our local school districts and our oldest was 72. Both of them contracted this disease sexually. We should and can do more to prevent this.
HIV does not discriminate by race, sex or national origin, but it is emotionally and financially devastating. Initially, being a homosexual meant a high risk for this illness. Today, the majority of the infected are heterosexual persons. People have the mindset that they're not at risk of being infected with HIV. People need to think again; most of our patients didn't think they were, either.
Please ask yourself this question: "Have I ever been placed at risk for HIV?"
Mike S. Melancon, MSW
Director of Clinical Services
Tuggle & Shelby Clinic
State loses out
I moved here in 2001 when I had a critically ill child with a rare disease. I was born and raised in Little Rock and my family has long-standing ties to Hot Springs.
I have lived in five different states. I have always loved Arkansas; it is my home. The Arkansas I remember when I left was Bill Clinton, Blanche Lincoln, Mark Pryor -- it was Democratic! What the heck happened? It's like moving back to a third-world country!
Dr. Chris Jones was so much more qualified on every level to be our next governor. I met him and was so impressed. And yet SHS was elected? How is that possible?
She was a mouthpiece for the most corrupt president in the history of our country; she has no experience that qualifies her to be governor; she was bought and paid for by big unknown Republican donors; and she calls me a "radical leftist." Me, a mother of three with a special-needs child, who likes to watch football and raised my children to be loving respectful members of society.
My heart is heavy with the disappointment of my fellow Arkansans. How could you have chosen her over him? Arkansas loses again. And that's exactly what the Republican Party wants!
Control of Congress
The need for parties to believe they have to control Congress to get anything done is tragic and not the founding intent.
Congress once worked together for the best of the nation, but those less than 40 years old have never seen Congress working together.
The problem started in 1980 with Ronald Reagan and the first words out of his mouth, in violation of his oath of office, were that government is the problem, get all you can and do not give anything back. Since 1980, the party of the rich that puts party before country, takes what they can and gives nothing back.
Since 1980, they have sent $40 trillion from the middle class to the top 1%. They sent $42 million from the middle class to the lower class. This country was established for all to participate for democracy and success When the Republicans are in control, they stonewall legislation and appointees introduced by Democrats as if it is a game.
Congress will not accomplish what is best for the nation with this mindset and not until those with the Reagan philosophy are replaced.