December 01, 2005

Not So Happy World Aids Day

December 1st always sticks in my mind. As an RA in college we always had educational programs about AIDS and HIV prevention and would ferry people from building to building to get tested. We'd get tested too just to show it wasn't so scary. We'd lie. Everyone was worried. I mean if you have had sex (protected or unprotected ) since 1978, you need to be worried.

The results would usually take a week or two because of the sheer volume of free tests being given out on December 1st. An you may not think that 7-14 days is that much, but when you are holding that tiny slip of paper with your secret passcode tightly in your Michael J. Fox-ish fingers, time starts to go by in dog years. You start to think of every time you helped a bleeding friend, or the condom slipped a little, or that your significant other may have stepped out for some strange and not told you. You know your risk is low- you're straight, white, 20-something and educated. You're not living in Africa, an IV drug user and you're not prone to visiting bath houses. You think you're safe.

You're not.

As a female, you're more likely to get the "HIV" (pronounced like the hiv in shiver) just because of basic plumbing facts. The vagina acts like a receptacle and is prone to microscopic tears. As a white person you are more likely to think that serial monogamy is safe. It's not. Far from it. And as a 20-something college student, you're getting laid all over the place. Sex is easy. Long term commitment isn't. And being "straight" isn't a guarantee. You assume your partner is heterosexual and has never experimented and you think your entire "group" is safe. That's utter bullshit.

No one's safe. Just some people are biologically safer because of their genetics and some people are safer because they don't put out, don't use drugs and don't need blood products. BUt those thing are never guarantees. There's no 100%.

My husband makes no bones about the number of close friends he buried in the 80's and 90's. It's been a burden for him. Knowing he's HIV free and having to bury people whom he loved and respected and grew up with and shared memories with. He witnessed firsthand the loss of human potential. That's pretty raw.

I'm a bit younger than he is and haven't had to deal with as much death or grief, but I'm not immune to it. I found out a few years ago that a friend from college is +. Knowing this person as well as I do and knowing how much this person would improve the world and the lives of the people around him/her, I am pretty saddened. Sure, with meds most HIV+ people can live longer, healthier lives than before, but the expense is burdensome. And the knowledge that relationships can't be free and simple is hard. And then there's that pesky fact that there's still no cure.

I read recently that there are 50,000,000 people with this disease. That's almost 10 times the number of Jews killed in Nazi concentration camps. That's 50,000,000 mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. That's 50,000,000 best friends of someone else. That's 50,000,000 who know they will die a horrible death.


That's 50,000,000 too many.

When I think about Iraq and how much we spend everyday to liberate a country with only 26 million people- nearly half of the HIV+ people in the world- I get pissed. We need to do more to find a cure. We need to do more to stop the transmission of this death sentence. Cutting off funding for rubbers doesn't help. The Bush administration and the GOP have been held hostage by the Christian fundies for too long. And the Christian fundies have been too worried about everyone else's sex life or contraception choices for too long. In order for lives to be saved, the religious right pervs have to be silenced. We need to stand up and tell them to shut the fuck up.

I wish "adults" would take a page from the school paper put together by some Tennessee high schoolers recently. They used their school paper to educate about the effectiveness rates of different types of contraception and the paper was yanked by the supposedly smarter adults. It crossed my mind when I learned this--- that these kids are really better than us. They aren't afraid of the big issues and are begging to be educated if only for their own safety. If they are successful, maybe they won't have to hold tightly to a tiny slip of paper praying they don't test positive.

December could just mean the holidays again.


Blogger MJ said...

Preach it sister! I mean that in a good way -- thanks for addressing that, and reminding me that I'm due for my annual checkup.

2:22 AM  

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