I was at The Junction on Davie recently and I overheard two gay guys talking about me (story of my life). I wasn't eavesdropping; they were just talking very loudly because, ultimately, they were in dire need of my attention. When one called my HIV/AIDS views "immature" and said I'm a "fear monger," I decided to give them the attention they so desperately sought by throwing my G&T in their faces by asking them if they'd care to elaborate. They basically had an issue with my stance that AIDS is still a deadly disease. You'd think since almost two million people died of AIDS last year alone, that would be a perfectly legitimate statement, but they were quick to remind me that HIV/AIDS is only deadly when untreated and that with the proper medication it is manageable and one's quality of life is unaffected. Although I agree that it's absolutely possible to live a complete and happy life while being HIV-positive, I'm not sure I believe that it doesn't alter your quality of life. You still have a disease, and you're dependent on medication to sustain your health. This is the current reality of HIV/AIDS and is why my heart sinks every time I hear a 20-year-old gay tell me he doesn't use condoms because they're a total mood-kill and because "HIV is just like, a cold."
I'm not trying to be a fear monger. I don't want to scare anyone. I just want to wake people up. Protecting yourself is important not only because HIV/AIDS is still very real, but because since the last century people have been fighting for our right to live, and gambling with your health is an insult to the entire generation of gay men whose lives were robbed from them by a mysterious plague that no one, especially the government, seemed to give a shit about because it was affecting only faggots and drug addicts.
I don't want HIV. Not because this is 1982 and I think if I get it my life is over. But because too many people in our community have been affected by this disease for too fucking long, and I'm sick of it. I don't want HIV because I don't want HIV to exist.
How to Survive a Plague is a documentary about the dawn of the AIDS crisis. It will premiere in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco in September, with a worldwide release to follow.
The next time you debate whether to use protection or not, or question the pertinence of HIV in the 21st century, remember this quote from the film's trailer:
"Someday, there will be a people alive on this earth who will hear the story that once there was a terrible disease and that a brave group of people stood up and fought, and in some cases died, so that others could live and be free.”