As my fans in other media (Facebook) will know, I stabbed myself with the pin attached to my World AIDS day ribbon on Friday. Let’s hope I haven’t misunderstood and the AIDS ribbon is to promote awareness, not an actual method of transmission.
Ribbons were handed out at work and I have been contentedly wearing mine since. Incidence of the HIV virus* has increased 300% over recent years in the local area and we are in danger of thinking that AIDS is something confined to the 1990s. It’s an important day.
Some of my work colleagues have been less keen, and questioning has revealed they are confused about AIDS and have conflated the syndrome with gay pride in some way. And further questioning reveals that they don’t like homosexuality that much. So I’m still having the kind of conversations I’ve been having here for years.
If I was being charitable I would ascribe this confusion of ideas to glorifications of AIDS culture like the musical RENT or Tony Kushner’s execrable Angels in America, but I doubt my colleagues have heard of either. Now I have mentioned RENT, you may now link the scene from Team America: World Police in the comments at will, as I know you will anyway (it seems impossible to mention AIDS these days without encountering this admittedly flawless parody).
For the record, lots of different people get AIDS and wearing a ribbon shows support for them all.
Another conversation this prompted was “I don’t like wearing a ribbon as my children might ask what it’s for and then what would I say?”
Let’s not make this post longer than it already is and cover the same ground again and again. If your children ask you what AIDS is, tell them. If you find the idea of discussing transmission by sex/needles inappropriate (which it may be) then just say it’s a blood disease. We simplify things for children all the time (Chemistry GCSE is a lie) – just give them the idea. Telling your children that AIDS is a serious illness or that HIV is a virus that weakens your immune system won’t mean they grow up to be a raging bender. Maybe it would be good for you if they did!+
These are some of the disjointed thoughts I have had inspired by World AIDS day (tomorrow) and I thought I would share them. Happy World AIDS day! No, that’s not quite right, is it…? Anyway, leave a comment about AIDS, I’m all ears.
* PIN number, the hoi polloi, mount Fujiyama**
** the usual prize to the commenter who explains this footnote first
+ this section is confusingly written in the style of me shouting at my colleague. I have no strong opinion on the sexuality of the children you may or may not have, gentle reader.