Remember the Ray brothers? About 21 years ago these three hemophiliac brothers, Ricky, Robert and Randy Ray were diagnosed with HIV. They were young, between six and eight years old. When the community found out, they were barred from attending public school and sued for the right to do so. They won the right to attend school, but a week later, after bomb and death threats, their house was burned down by an arsonist.
Because they would no longer ever be welcome in their hometown, the Ray family moved to the community where I grew up and were welcomed. My Mom became their sister’s first grade teacher. I think I was in the fifth grade at the same school at that time.
Unfortunately, Ricky passed away of AIDS in 1992 at the age of 15. Robert died at the age of 22 in 2000. Randy and his sister live in Orlando.
I am happy that, through education, we have come so far from the bigotry of just two decades ago and those that suffer from HIV and AIDS are generally given the opportunity to live their lives in private without the threat of violence.