Sunday, 2 December 2012

World AIDS day

Last Saturday was World AIDS day. We don't have a World Heart Attack day, nor a World Influenza day, nor a World Arthritis day ... but we have a World AIDS day. Surely, we should have incorporated AIDS into mainstream medicine by now?

But AIDS still comes with luggage. I wonder how many of you recall the ads of the 1980s, with terrifying images representing the virus leaping out of the ground as if to take over the world. USE A CONDOM OR DIE they said. And the subtext, the thing that wasn't said: this was a disease of gay people, a punishment for practises that, well, weren't mainstream. That image on the ads - an apocalyptic retribution for - for being gay.

Surely we've grown up since then? What consenting adults do in the privacy of their own relationships - if they swing from the chandeliers or simply enjoy a cup of cocoa together - then it's fine. What's important is to love and be loved. Gender and sexual practises - pah!

Yet still there is a hint of shame, a stigma, attached to AIDS. The figures suggest that people (of both genders - women are just as likely to have the disease as men) don't come forward to be tested if they are at risk. And they are at risk because they had unprotected sex. Which, somehow, is seen as more shocking than walking across the road before waiting for the green man, or using a mobile phone in the car - neither of which are a good idea but, hey ho, it happens. Some risks, it seems, are part of being human and we shrug them off, while those who take sexual risks are reluctant to admit them even to a doctor.

I'm a child of the 1960s. And in those heady, rose-tinted days we believed it possible that we could create a world in which we cared for people equally. That if we treat each other with dignity, whatever our histories or cultures or needs, then the world will be a better place. I still believe that. But sometimes - such as when we still need a World AIDS day, I wonder if I am in a minority of one.


  1. Well, it's two now, Jo. I so one hundred percent agree with you!

  2. I whole heartedly agree with you!

  3. Yes you're right Jo. We don't hear about Aids much in the media now but it's still shortening people's lives and I think we all need to be reminded of it and the fact that it affects everyone and anybody.

  4. I hadn't thought about it like that before, that there shouldn't be a need for a World Aids Day. We do still need to remind younger people about the importance of safe sex though. If they forget, if they become complacent then the epidemic could return in a way that has become immune to the present drugs and that would be awful.