World AIDS Day: Building more awareness and compassion around HIV

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Article By A.T. Walker // EEW Magazine

Recently, Pastor Tamara Bennett revealed that her late husband, Dr. Donald Curlin, died of AIDS in 2000, shocking many within the faith community. He was just 40 years old.

There are many others who have lost their battle with this disease—something that World AIDS Day, which is recognized annually on December 1 since 1988, brings into focus.

World AIDS Day unifies people around the world around a very specific cause:  fighting HIV, supporting those living with the disease, and remembering those who have died.

Globally, it is estimated that roughly 34 million people are currently living with HIV and the pandemic claimed the lives of more than 25 million between 1981 and 2007.

Sadly, though there is now more public awareness and better treatment options available than ever, there continues to be a stigma surrounding HIV.

When Bennett first opened up about her late spouse’s story in a “Journeys of Faith” documentary, the pastor of This Is Pentecost (TIP) Fellowship Ministries in Sacramento, CA, said she had already been married to Dr. Curlin for 13 years before discovering the devastating news of his incurable disease.

 Tamara Bennett shares her shocking true story of hiding her husband’s secret that he was afflicted with AIDS (Credit: Journeys of Faith Documentary/EEW)

Tamara Bennett shares her shocking true story of hiding her husband’s secret that he was afflicted with AIDS (Credit: Journeys of Faith Documentary/EEW)

“The last five years of our life became interesting. He had gotten sick and we didn’t know what the problem was,” recounted Bennett. “We went from doctor to doctor. He was losing weight. And then one day in 1999, he was coughing so badly, he fell off the couch.”

The concerned wife called 911 and headed to the emergency room. Once there, after running tests on Dr. Curlin, an ER doctor made a startling discovery.

It was AIDS.

Bennett cared for her husband until the day he died.

World AIDS Day is a crucial time for discovering the facts about HIV like how it is transmitted, how it can be prevented, what treatments are available, and how to show respect and compassion for those living with it.

To support those with HIV on World AIDS Day, wear a red ribbon which is accepted as the international symbol of HIV awareness and support.