30 November 2008

Let's talk about sex baby, let's talk about you and me...

...let's talk about HIV. Gee that was a really bad segue into this post. Anyway, it made sense at the time and it still makes sense as a title to this post. Today is December 1st here in Australia and beside it being only 24 more shopping days until Christmas it is also World AIDS Day. My friends in the northern hemisphere can read this post now or wait until tomorrow. On second thought maybe you should read it now. Today of course is the day that we remember all of those people that we have lost to this horrible disease. Today is the day we choose to wear a red ribbon to note that loss. We also wear that red ribbon to bring attention to the fact that HIV/AIDS is still amongst us and until a cure is found it's not going away.

To be brutally honest with you, wearing a red ribbon just for the day is not good enough. Some (that would include me) might say it is hypocritical to wear the ribbon only for the day when the disease is still here the other 364 days of the year. I know that some people wear a yellow wristband all year long to raise awareness for testicular cancer. Some people wear a pink ribbon year round in awareness of breast cancer and there are other examples. So why is it that we find it acceptable to only wear the red ribbon just today. I apologise to those people that still do wear the ribbon daily. I not only commend you but thank you. I will have to say you are a minority in today’s society.
I also have to say that I am just as guilty for not wearing the ribbon every day but then in my defense I think I've done more than my share considering what I've been through and even then that's no excuse.

As I said and as we know the ribbon is aimed at raising awareness about HIV/AIDS but when I hear about the rise in numbers of new HIV infections occurring globally on a daily basis then it seems that wearing that ribbon and observing a day of remembrance once a year just is not good enough. I believe that HIV/AIDS is still a very important issue. Too many people are still dying as a result of complications from this disease to let awareness become a once a year event. It seems a sad indictment of society that the issue of HIV/AIDS is only worthy of notating once a year. Maybe it’s time to rethink the way we remember our losses and how we want to bring awareness to the world so as to prevent further losses. We might want to start talking about HIV/AIDS on a daily basis and try to open up our ears once again, listen a little closer and really hear what is being said. I’m not here to preach I’m merely here to bring attention to something that I believe is still an issue in today’s world.

I have never made a secret out of the fact that I am HIV positive (okay there was that time way back in the beginning when I was first diagnosed but let’s move on shall we) I have been HIV+ for over twenty-two years and within that time I have seen HIV/AIDS in many different ways. I have seen the good, the bad and the very, very ugly side of this disease. On very special occasions I have even seen the good side of this disease but those moments usually if not always came at a price. We have been talking/hearing about HIV/AIDS since 1981. We have made great strides in the area of treatments and as such people are living longer but as I noted earlier people are also still dying. It’s estimated that around 2 million people died from complication of HIV/AIDS in 2007. Once again as I said I’m not here to preach because I know you have heard so much of this before and then some. I just want to use this time and space to highlight something very close to my heart.

I have been around long enough to hear all of the reasons as to why there is still a rise in new HIV infections occurring in many parts of the world. I know the concept of “condom fatigue”. I mean there are only so many ways and so many times that we can tell people to wear a condom. After a while people just stop listening because they get tired of hearing the same old rhetoric over and over and over again. Another reason for the rise in new infections is based on the thought process that HIV is not a problem any more because people who become infected can now just take some pills and everything will be okay. Unfortunately it’s not that easy, and people don’t know, think about or take into consideration all of the complications and possible side effects associated with those pills. And last but not least there is the generational issue where as young people see HIV/AIDS as something that is a problem of an older generation. Young people did not have to go through what happened back in the early days of HIV when so many people died basically due to lack of information and lack of medications. In saying that I find it almost appalling that with the knowledge that we have about HIV today that young people would choose to carelessly ignore that information. I have to assume they are ignoring the information along with so many other people because there are so many new people becoming infected.

In the end I don’t know what to say. I’m just sitting here rambling on and talking about things that so many of you know. I don’t know what the answer is. Maybe I’m just a jaded, cynical old man who has seen, and been through too much. Maybe it’s just none of my business.


Ur-spo said...

Your "ramblings" are spot on and well said.


Keep on agitating.

Anonymous said...

In the U.S., we can hope that Obama will work to overcome the Bush legacy of quashing science and promoting an illogical and ideologically driven health agenda. It will likely take years.