“The Whisper of Aids”
9 August 1992
Who is speaking
Why is the speech important to society?
The speech is important to society because it was an eye opener for those people who had their specific views on the disease as well as an influential speech that gave courage and strength to those suffering from it. It was a positive speech that informed people while at the same time gave people the hope for a cure, the light at the end of the tunnel, and end to suffering.
Why do you feel it is important or interesting?
This speech is important because at the time the AIDS epidemic was beginning to e more prominent in the public view. Many people had their own stereotypes that came along with the virus and seeing plus hearing a white, young, woman talk about her experience with the virus and how it can affect anyone and everyone was a great eye opener for the public. It was a great way for people to both realize that it can affect anyone not just the certain stereotypical people and for people to also feel empowered to take on the challenge of fighting the epidemic.
What is the emotion, mood, tone, personality, feeling of the speech?
The speech is: strong, bold, moving, influential, important, informative, controversial, different, courageous.
What is intonation, emphasis, what is loud, stressed or soft? Where are there pauses?
She tends to have a sweet voice that isn’t too overpowering, it’s sympathetic. Overall the speech is soft. However, she does put an emphasis on the numbers of people of being affected, the people being affected, and what people are doing to help the cause. She pauses after each example she gives. And she tends to raise her voice as she gets more into the speech and gets more backing from the public.
What do you feel should be loud or soft, long paused or ruhed?
I feel that the specific information about AIDS, the number of people infected, the way the virus can spread, the ways we can help control it, and the way that it can affect anyone, are the things that I believe should be stressed. Especially the word ‘anyone.’ Pauses should be in between the bullets of information to let the people reflect as they listen to each fact.
Is there a call to action? When listening to it what are key/emphasized words?
Yes there is a call to action. The speech lets the public know that AIDS is prominent in the world. It is something we must inform ourselves about and it is something we must begin to fight and control. The words that are being emphasized are the facts she states (number of people infected, the rate of being infected) and who is being infected.
How do you imagine the audience felt?
I feel the audience felt empowered when listening to Mary Fisher. With the AIDS epidemic starting to come out more in the public light, people were lost and confused with what they were facing. Listening to Mary, an HIV positive woman, talk about her views on the situation, talk about how AIDS is affecting everyone, and portray the image of a strong woman who is not afraid of the big hurdle that lies ahead of her, gives strength to those listening to her.
Could there be another interpretation of the speech?
No, because the speech is pretty self-explanatory. It is a speech about AIDS, an informative speech that calls the public to action, that asks the public for help, that opens the public to the truth behind the virus.
Short bio of Mary Fisher (www.unaids.org)
Mary Davis Fisher is an artist, author and speaker who travels the world advocating for those who share her HIV-positive status. As UNAIDS Special Representative, Ms. Fisher will raise awareness on HIV prevention, treatment, care and support with an emphasis on women and children. Ms. Fisher will support the UNAIDS mission of empowering people to protect themselves and live full, productive lives. UNAIDS Special Representative Mary Fisher is a strong advocate in raising awareness and engaging people living with HIV. Mary Fisher, herself living openly and positively with HIV, has received numerous awards for her AIDS work. Recently she was honored by the Worldwide Orphans Foundation. Since 2006, Mary Fisher has undertaken several fact-finding missions with UNAIDS to Zambia, highlighting the socio-economic impact of HIV on women and girls. Mary Fisher also played an important advocacy role at the United Nations High Level Meeting on AIDS in June 2006 delivering powerful speeches and strong messages on AIDS awareness.
Excerpt from “The Whisper of Aids”
I would never have asked to be HIV positive, but I believe that in all things there is a purpose; and I stand before you and before the nation gladly. The reality of AIDS is brutally clear. Two hundred thousand Americans are dead or dying. A million more are infected. Worldwide, forty million, sixty million, or a hundred million infections will be counted in the coming few years. But despite science and research, White House meetings, and congressional hearings, despite good intentions and bold initiatives, campaign slogans, and hopeful promises, it is -- despite it all -- the epidemic, which is winning tonight.
In the context of an election year, I ask you, here in this great hall, or listening in the quiet of your home, to recognize that AIDS virus is not a political creature. It does not care whether you are Democrat or Republican; it does not ask whether you are black or white, male or female, gay or straight, young or old.
Tonight, I represent an AIDS community whose members have been reluctantly drafted from every segment of American society. Though I am white and a mother, I am one with a black infant struggling with tubes in a Philadelphia hospital. Though I am female and contracted this disease in marriage and enjoy the warm support of my family, I am one with the lonely gay man sheltering a flickering candle from the cold wind of his family’s rejection.