An HIV-Free Generation?
This summer has marked many milestones in the ongoing fight against the pandemic caused by the HIV virus: the FDA has now approved at-home rapid testing kits that are expected to retail for less than $20.00 per box; Wal-greens will be piloting a CDC program that expands free testing to a few of their stores; and a variety of new drugs are being released that combine multiple pills into one. Also, the FDA approved Truvada as the first HIV prevention pill. This all works towards the goal of creating an HIV-free generation. Protesters recently stormed Washington DC under the title of “Keep the Promise.”
We always talk about how the various generations will be different; the idea of an HIV-free generation is something I can support. However, I feel compelled by the activist Mattilda Berstein Sycamore to dream of something more due to their recent reference about gay politics: “Our dreams have become so small.”
I dream for an entirely HIV-free world population: regardless of generation, ethnicity, sexuality, geography, etc. Previous generations had a fearful relationship to HIV through their experiences of loss, death, illness, and stigma. My generation is continually told the mantra: “At least you won’t die now a days from HIV.” I understand this is a radical change from the previous era where HIV was a death sentence; but, I still don’t find solace in the fact. Instead, I find it placates rage against a healthcare system that seeks profits over life. Furthermore, it is a misnomer because plenty of people still die like the 1.8 million AIDs related deaths in 2010.
I marvel at the actions, statements, and hopes of previous activists like those in ACT-UP. They sought cures, cheaper drugs, and prevention of new infections. Drugs costs continue to rise yet state governments continue to cut funding for HIV/AIDS medication assistance programs. Prevention programs and assisted living programs are either being eliminated or downsized. We have the drugs to prevent mother to child transmissions yet over 390,000 children still contract HIV from their mothers. Our communities-even the gay community-still remain hostile towards those living with the HIV virus. As we continue to the fight against HIV, I hope that our demands, desires, and dreams expand.
Jon Henry comes from the small town of Washington, Virginia. Xe finished xes degree at the University of Richmond and was named GayRVA.com's Out.Spoken. Richmonder of the Year for 2011. When not in class, xe is either in the studio or rabble rousing with other queer activists. Follow xem on Twitter.
“That feeling of shame, of hiding, of having love only exist in a bedroom,” Blanco said, “I know what that feels like.”April 11, 2017
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