Joe Jervis, blogger at Joe. My. God., put up a post last week about an acquantance of his, Ricky, who died from AIDS. What struck me about the post was his description of a visit to Ricky when he was in the hospital:
Twenty years ago today, one week earlier, Ricky went into the hospital. He’d had a seizure on the bathroom floor of his sister’s condo. Todd and I went to the hospital the next day and found him lying unconscious in his bed, unattended, in a pool of feces. Todd staggered into the hallway and tried to control his retching while I looked for a nurse. At the nurses’ station, the stout Jamaican woman behind the counter nodded curtly but didn’t get out of her chair when I asked that Ricky receive some attention. I went back to find Todd sitting out in the lounge, smoking.
I think that’s it important that we all are recording our histories in this way. I think that it is important to write down our stories so they are not forgotten. I think that today a lot of people view HIV/AIDS with a blasé attitude because a lot of the history of the intitial impact of the disease is unknown. People who are unaware of that history have a more romanticized view of how people died of AIDS; surrounded by family, friends and lovers as they quietly expired their last breaths. We’ve forgotten the tragic, horrific, shameful way that people were treated. At one time, people believed that those with AIDS should be quarantined or tatooed (‘The Times Poll: 42% Would Limit Civil Rights in AIDS Battle’; The Los Angeles Times; July 31, 1987).
I believe that this scarcity of history is also something that hinders our ability to fight new infections. People transfer the romance of HIV/AIDS deaths to infection. It’s is a disease that you can live with, so, it is no longer a big deal. I believe that people lack the information on the challenges of living with HIV, fisical, physcial and emotional contributes to this view.
People with HIV are able now to live productive and long lives and I applaude the advances that we have made thus far, but we still have a ways to go. What we want is to have no new infections. What we want is to have a cure for those who have HIV/AIDS. That happens with money and research, but that money and research comes in part from us telling our stories. So get writing.