Tuesday, May 30, 2006

HIV/AIDS turns 25

I am HIV positive. Thirteen years.

Each and everyone of us knows and loves someone with HIV/AIDS. Something like 60,000,000 people in the world are infected which sounds an awful lot like a statistic, if you ask me. If you lined the HIVers up head to toe, they might stretch from here to the moon or something. (are there any fact checkers out there??)

But seriously, as I sit here writing this i realize I am one of the lucky ones. I have an undectable viral load, 1000 T cells, am in great shape, and by all outward appearances, have a totally normal life. Does anyone out there ever wonder how much my HIV meds cost, retail, peryear? something like $18,000. Folks, that is like one dollar 18,000 tiimes!!!! (yuck, yuck)

Again, i stress, as an American I am clearly one of the lucky ones. HIV transmissions are highest wherever poverty is rife : Africa, Southeast Asia, the former Soviet bloc. In these regions the price of HIV meds is upwards of 10 and 20 times what people make in a whole year. Scarey huh? People who are socially, politically, culturally or economically marginalized will ALWAYS suffer greater degrees of EVERYTHING that is bad, HIV transmission rates not withstanding.

Twenty-five years on and we still have a helluva fight on our hands. Maybe it has been too long since we have witnessed people getting skinny and (literally) dying before our eyes, but the fact remains, THIS PANDEMIC IS STILL REAL!


Elsa said...

More power to you, Jay. Thirteen years and it seems like you're going strong - as you said, "living a totally normal life". Good for you for doing so much with your life, standing up for what you believe and making a difference. We could all learn from you.

Granny said...

One of my closest San Francisco friends was diagnosed in the early 80's and still going strong today. I rejoice for you both. I attended far too many memorials back then.

But don't get me started on our government's attitude toward Africa. Do they really think "abstinence only" will work? Or do they consider HIV/AIDS a fitting punishment.

Rhetorical question of course. I know the answer. They're currying political favor with their last remaining supporters, the extreme religious right. Meantime, people keep dying.

phyrebrand said...

Rock on. Just to make some sense of the numbers you posted:

Assuming the average American is 65 inches tall....

If you stacked the number of people infected from head to toe it would come to:

3,900,000,000 inches or:
325,000,000 feet or:
64,638 miles or about 1/4th the distance to the moon. (238857 miles) HOWEVER,

If those same people were lined up head to toe around the earth, they would go around the globe approximately two and a half times.


The Phoenix said...

Medicine is working hard to find a cure...at least they have discovered ways to treat it and help people survive.

You are for sure one of the lucky ones. Just keep doing what you're doing.

Rob said...

Jay you're a remarkable man. If it were me I'd probably wallow, sulk and withdraw into a complete embittered funk of living ineptitude. Your positive outlook, boundless energy, activism and idealism is an inspiration for even the most cynical among us.

Often I come to your blog during my work day for a quick dose of perspective and a needed laugh.

Jill said...

What rob said.

I remember first hearing about AIDS in the early 1980's (the Reagan years) and thinking it was a Republican dream disease -- a fatal illness caused by fucking. Does it get any better than that if you're a sexually-repressed Republican?

What energy and resources have been put into the HIV fight have been because of activists, NOT because of government officials. Even leaders on "our side" have been far too "hands-off" where AIDS and HIV are concerned.

I'm glad that you are doing so well and that your attitude in the face of such huge medical costs is so positive. I admire your spirit.

But you're right -- this fight is not over, and this "abstinence only" bullshit is only going to succeed in killing more and more people in the developing world.

Humans fuck. It's something we do, right up there with eating and shitting. And the sooner the conservatives wrap their mind around that fact and stop this bullshit with "the wages of sin is death" the better.

gang said...

Jay! keep in touch, I learn so much from your posts. Can I quote you on our website some time? Drop by www.rockedphilippines.org



Anonymous said...

i hear that!...AIDS STILL Sucks! And I don't have to tell YOU how superhappy I am to have you balance the perspective!

Anonymous said...

Oh, the above comment provided by the "anonymous" MAX


Sharon GR said...

We're so terrified of Avian Flu, which has killed about 127 people worldwide, that we pay little or no attention to the things that actually hurt us (as a society.)

This is real. I'm glad you're on the good side of those statistics. Attention still needs to be paid to those on the bad side.