Talking about HIV to people talking about HIV because it’s time people talked about HIV.
If you think World AIDS day is the most important day of the year when it comes to HIV/AIDS prevention/fight, please do not read any further. You will get angry and start calling me names. Stress is harmful for your body, so no need to put it through this.
If, however, you think World AIDS day is underused and not having the impact it should have, maybe we can get along. Carry on:
So, yes, today is World AIDS day. It is no surprise that my Twitter feed is inundated with people twitting about it. But then, I mostly follow HIV charities and HIV positive people on Twitter. They talk about it. To other HIV positive people, charities and health or policy workers workers, mainly. And the odd non HIV-related person who simply happens to care. I wish there were more of those, too.
For fear of drowning in the 20 retweets per hour of that BBC article about HIV and the NHS, time to switch to Facebook, my non HIV-specific crowd. There, it’s all about Paul Walker’s death, yesterday.
Either way, the cynic in me can’t help but notice the futility of HIV+ people talking about HIV to other HIV+ people; and the uneasy sense of mourning from randoms who dissed the Fast and Furious franchise at every turn.
More specifically, the cynic in me fears that, for both HIV/AIDS and Paul Walker, all will be forgotten tomorrow. Today, people around the world are talking about HIV. People with HIV/AIDS are talking about it on the radio, on the news, in the press. Today, some people will hear about it. Good. But what happens tomorrow?
What World AIDS day isn’t about, to me.
If my opinion mattered, I could here make a big exposé about raising awareness and collecting money for charity and helping those living with HIV in the UK and abroad (and I do believe it matters.) I could be outraged that newsreaders didn’t wear a Red Ribbon. I could pat myself on the back for doing my bit, too.
Thankfully, my opinion doesn’t matter (I still voice it, though; don’t we all.)
WAD, to me, isn’t a day to remember. Remember that, not that long ago, many people in this country were dying from AIDS-related illnesses; and that some still do to this day here and many more abroad.
I don’t remember lost ones because I haven’t lost anyone to HIV. My generation hasn’t experienced this. It doesn’t take away the grief from those who have, so WAD will have a stronger significance for them. That’s just not the significance for me.
I also don’t need to remember AIDS around the world because I have never forgotten it existed to begin with. I trust most people are aware of the fact, too; although some might not realise how big a scale it is on.
“Sure, I’ll wear one… What is it for?”
WAD, to me, isn’t a day a self-congratulation from the ‘Well, I wore a ribbon’ crew. Today, I won’t be wearing one.
Talking about the Red Ribbon yesterday, I was asked what it stands for by someone who had ‘seen it on TV, not sure what it was about’, so they wanted one.
As far as I can tell, I have always known what the Red Ribbon stood for. Maybe it’s because I’m gay and it’s part of the “gay DNA” (yes, I know, what a terrible term to use.) Maybe it’s coming from a country where, on WAD and throughout the year, big events take place supported by major celebrities who openly talk about HIV/AIDS, not just mumble about it for fear of loosing viewers.
But what is the point, here, of seeing the Red Ribbon worn ‘for solidarity’ by people who won’t talk about it, or maybe not even know the meaning of it?
Today, I won’t wear a ribbon, because no one would benefit from me doing so, except maybe myself. Chances are, nobody will ask me what it stands for or why I wear it. Those who know, know. Those who don’t won’t take time to enquire.
WAD, to me, is a day to talk about HIV/AIDS without the risk of sounding like a fucktivist (read ‘fucking activist’, not a pro-fucking one.) So, tomorrow, I will discuss WAD because I work with youngsters and they will ask. They are curious; they will stop me and ask what it stands for. I will tell them. Hopefully, a few of them may remember. If only for a day, a week or until the next World AIDS day come round.
If you feel good about wearing a ribbon today, pause for a second and think: did it help? Did someone actually benefit, even remotely, from seeing you with a piece of material pinned to your shirt? How?
If you think you raised awareness by displaying it, then you were only noticed by people who knew what it meant, or came and asked you what it stands for. Hopefully, a few will. But realistically, at the end of the day, how many will have done so?
It feels more like an inside joke so don’t expect the Red Ribbon to do all the talking and the explaining for you. It won’t.
Fucked up, much?
For many, today will mark the opening of the first window in their advent calendar.
For some, the day Rough Copy leaves the X-Factor (well, just a prediction.)
For a few, a day to think about the 35 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the world.
A solution, I don’t have one, much like Russell Brand (but less witty), I just spoke my apathetic mind.
One last thing maybe, let’s request for WAD to be rebranded WHAD. After all, why spend so much time and energy differentiating HIV from AIDS for 364 days, only to amalgamate them on the most publicised day of the year? Go figure.