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Writer's Block: AIDS Walk

Do you think there will be a cure for AIDS in your lifetime? Why or why not?

Yes, I do, but that's not what concerns me.

What concerns me is the treatments they have in the interim. A recent study in Uganda showed that HIV+ men there who receive treatment have just about the same lifespan as average HIV- men, and another showed wonderful results with a new anti-viral. Now, of course these are good things from a medical perspective, but not necessarily good things from a societal perspective, IMHO.

Alas, it hasn't taken this good news to show what the problem is - too many people (and from my own experience I will refer to gay men in this case) are of the mindset that "AIDS doesn't kill you anymore, you just take a pill every day and you're fine, so let's bareback!" This is horrifying to me. I have four HIV+ friends, 3 of whom are well under 30, and 3 of whom seroconverted after I met them. It appalls, frightens and revolts me.

Yes, I know, we could get into the whole "risk management" and "choice levels" and "sex negativity" discussions, and they're all well and good, but from a purely visceral level, it just makes me sick. I was SO lucky to come out when I did in the 80's that we finally understood the causes of the disease, and I watched so many people work so fucking hard to educate our community to keep them alive (not always successfully - several of those friends are dead now), to watch this new crop of queers decide safe sex is boring and barebacking is hot. Well, fuck you, it's not. It's disgusting, and you're killing yourself. I wish you could see that you're worth saving. I wish you thought enough of yourself to take five seconds to think about the rest of your life. I wish you understood that it's not about taking a pill every day, it's about living the rest of your life with a disease, and about how that's going to affect you and the people you love and who love you back.

And my words fall on deaf ears and people will still make deadly choices, but I continue to shout into the darkness. And if they come up with a cure or a vaccine, I will personally drag each and every one of my sexually active friends to get the shot, because I will not let them kill themselves. (And let's not even talk about what new and amazing STDs nature will come up with once there is a cure and people abandon safe sex altogether...)

Anyway. Argh. Feeling bitter and frustrated and angsty today.


( 7 comments — Comment )
Jul. 20th, 2011 08:04 pm (UTC)
I totally agree with this. It has been really wracking my soul that so many people don't get it. We could have eradicated this disease if everyone had practiced safer sex in the first place.

I came out in like 83, right after I came home from South America, as a missionary for the Mormon Church, and had a year and a half of unprotected sex, because I didn't have to worry about anyone getting pregnant. Then I caught a social disease, and in the process of getting it cleared up, went to a seminar on HIV, it scared me so bad I was celibate for a year. I have been very careful ever since, and at nearly 50, I am still HIV-. I have had several friends say stupidity like, well I should just go out and get the virus so I can stop worrying about it. I was furious, and told them that if they were going to do stuff like that, that they could just stop talking to me. I don't have any interest in having to grieve for more people, especially when they were stupid enough to go out an get it intentionally.

Just because you can take a pill, doesn't mean you are healed, or even safe for others. Nor does it mean that you will live a good life. I have friends who suffer a huge amount even on the meds, sometimes because of the meds. If you go off them, they stop working, you have to find another set that will work for you, what they may do to you is also often horrible too. The meds aren't safe, they often have horrible side effects. My ex is on his 5th or 6th cocktail at this point, doctors say they are running out of treatments for him. He is but one person I know dealing with this, because he was stupid, and didn't think he could get it.

It really pisses me off a lot, and I don't know what to do about it.
Jul. 20th, 2011 08:39 pm (UTC)
I totally feel you. Bug chasers garner my ire particularly - WTF is wrong with you? Do you WANT cancer? Do you WANT leukemia? Do you WANT to have to swallow a handful of pills every day for the rest of your life? AAAAAAAAAArgh!
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 21st, 2011 02:30 pm (UTC)
That's another thing - one of my poz friends said, "I've already got it, so now I can do whatever I want with other poz people." I hope my screaming at him made the appropriate impression that there is more than one HIV strain, and having multiple would be A Bad Thing. (I doubt it, though - *sigh*...)
Jul. 21st, 2011 04:52 am (UTC)
I feel you, so much on this one.
So many of the street kids I knew when my mother threw me out seroconverted and many are now dead. MAny of my old clients from my first grown up counseling job are dead.
We, as a tribe are missing a generation, and the younger folk have no idea or the horror we've lived though. I know I sound way older than I am, buut I've buried enough people to be triggered when I hear clueless twinks at the bars talk about how barebacking is hot.

Paul Monette's Last Watch of the Night and Love Alone should be required reading upon exiting the closet.
Jul. 21st, 2011 02:29 pm (UTC)
Oh my god I was so fucking EXHAUSTED after reading "Borrowed Time." I'm thankful I got to meet Monette at a book signing in DC (he had just released "Becoming A Man"). I was singing with the Spruce Street Singers in Philadelphia at the time and the previous season we'd done a song cycle by Ned Rorem based on "Love Alone." He was quite interested in my thoughts on it.
Jul. 22nd, 2011 02:29 am (UTC)
Thank you for recommending Becoming a Man.

Jul. 22nd, 2011 03:16 am (UTC)
Have you read it? It's amazing, as is everything he wrote.
( 7 comments — Comment )

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