The elephant in the room – the HIV clinic waiting room

I was thrilled to learn, via Xtra!, of the revival of AIDS Action Now! in Toronto. I look forward to seeing how I might contribute.Also, in an opinion piece in Xtra West this week, headlined “The deadly degaying of AIDS – Do gay men have to be bumped off the HIV agenda to make room for others?”, Phillip Banks wonders, and rightly so, whether gay communities around the world have become too complacent. It is well worth a read, despite the headline which, to me, sounds like some hierarchical claim to AIDS.

While I have launched my fair share of slings and arrows, given the persistently high rate of infection among gay men, it is even more alarming to see how this has become accepted as a fact of life – we’ll just take the meds, it’s no big deal.

It is a big deal!

But don’t listen to me. At 47 I am easily dismissed as just an old fag with nothing to say to young queers.

The meds regimens, depending on what chameleonized version of HIV is picked up nowadays, can vary from the simple to the onerous. They make you shit. A lot. At inconvenient times. They add bubbles of fat to odd places and take away precious healthy weight from others. They increase risks of heart, liver, and other diseases seemingly unrelated.

Don’t mistake this for ingratitude. I owe several of the last years of my life to these drugs. But, please, don’t mistake the pills for vitamins or pick-me-ups which you could take, or not, as your mood dictates.

I remember when we tried to scare the bejeezus out of everybody – gay or straight – about the perils of AIDS. Scaring, on its own, is not a solution. Neither, though, is information presented in bland statistics.

AIDS is everybody’s issue, or it should be. I know I’m not the first to say that this planet – its people and its environment – has AIDS.

We who have all kinds of resources to fight HIV/AIDS owe it to those who do not to share the wealth and share the meds. There need not be any hierarchy. This is everybody’s disease.

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2 thoughts on “The elephant in the room – the HIV clinic waiting room

  1. simon

    Hi kenn…excellent post. And all the links were good and very thought provoking too. I think that the gay community is too passive period. I know there are many reasons for that…and good ones too. But it’s time we got a bit more aggressive and demanded not only our rights but our space in this world. So I’m really glad to see that AAN is getting fired up again. Maybe you guys will inspire us all again. I know many young queers are ridiculously apolitical and just [lain dum. But we’re not all that way. The U of T group is just great!! So don’t think you “old guys” can’t teach us something :)….like wisdom and collective memory…

  2. Kenn Chaplin

    Thanks for writing Simon and thanks, too, for reminding me that not everyone – young, old, gay, straight – is out of touch with reality!

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