Saturday, December 02, 2006

A day late

Yesterday was World AIDS Day. It's been 25 years since the first cases of what would later become known as AIDS were reported in otherwise young, healthy gay men. And while we have drugs to help prolong life, we're no closer to a cure today than we were at the beginning of the epidemic. What a fucking crying shame.

AIDS today seems to have lost some of its status as a disease, now that it has been painted as a chronic condition that you can manage like diabetes or hypertension. Even 10 years ago, I remember some stupid guy in my class telling me that AIDS was a "Hollywood" disease - something trendy to support that wasn't as big of a problem as was being made out. To that, a resounding fuck off! The fact of the matter is that while it is no longer the death sentence that it once was, it's a different type of death sentence. The drugs are not magic bullets. They are not side effect free. I read somewhere online this week that a person who becomes infected with HIV in their early 20s can reasonably expect to live to their early to mid-40s. This reflects an incredible advance in the treatment of HIV and AIDS, but the person still has 30-35 years cut off their life!

And it wouldn't be World AIDS Day if I didn't pimp Randy Shilts' And The Band Played On which will always be the definitive (if biased) version of the early days of the AIDS epidemic. Rather than reading like a boring history text, it reads with the viciousness of a horror novel, one you truly hope is not true, but you know damn well that it is. It captures the horror and disbelief of those days with such crystal clear precision. It shows the criminal negligence of the nation's blood industry. It demonstrates the right-wing hypocrisy of the US government of the time, an administration that put an emphasis on Christian values, all the while averting their eyes from a growing public health issue, because it was primarily affecting a segment of the population they didn't give a shit about. It paints medical science in a very poor light, putting international acclaim above the good of the public.

If you haven't read it, read it. NOW. If I didn't already have two books going right now (well, really three books) I'd pick it up and start rereading it.

And go here to light a candle. Do it. Seriously.

1 comment:

orange anubis said...

I was playing at a benefit gig for this on Thursday night (well, it did start at midnight so it was technically on the right day), and the place was packed. The next day though, I wore my ribbon and I didn't see a single other person with one all day. It seems that awareness is still very marginalised.