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by Jesse Cameron Alick
Jesse Cameron Alick confronts his black brothers’ HIV skepticism.
I’ve been alive as a gay black man for 25 years—and have lived with HIV for the past six. It didn’t surprise me when I read in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes that a survey found that 54 percent of black men who sleep with men (compared with 27 percent of their white counterparts) believe that HIV is not what causes AIDS. Some 56 percent of my brothers believe that HIV/AIDS drugs do more harm that good, and 58 percent believe that there is a cure out there right now—if only drug companies would release it.
So why wasn’t I surprised? Well, there are some things you come to expect as a double minority—one of which is that The Man will keep you down however and whenever possible. Ask brother Malcolm about it, and he’ll tell it to you straight. If the system has lied to you and your ancestors often, it’s awfully tempting to keep disbelieving whatever the system has to say. It’s no surprise that after so many years of oppression, people of color from South Africa to South Central L.A. won’t believe a word they hear about HIV. But for us, I think, it’s even more important to look at all the evidence, and separate the illusion from the fact, the solid from the ethereal, and the healthy doubt of every freedom-loving American from the mad paranoia that can make the writing on the wall illegible.
When I told my father I was HIV positive he demanded that I get a second opinion, and I think a part of him still doubts that it’s true. Couldn’t it be a mistake? What if people are misdiagnosing patients to addict their bodies to drugs so that companies can make a profit? Couldn’t the government be plotting to keep the black man down? It wouldn’t be the first time (remember the great crack conspiracy?). I love my father, but I was less than pleased with him for saying all this to me. It gave me false hope. Hope that I would never get sick, hope that I had been deceived, hope that I wasn’t HIV positive at all.
HIV denialists feed upon the desperate need we have for hope. They’re feeding off the fear that if we have HIV, we deserve to be sick and furthermore that if we take these medications, we’re giving in to The Man we’ve all been trying to fight for so very long. HIV denialists tell us that HIV doesn’t exist and therefore that all those fears that we, the HIV-positive people of this planet, have don’t exist either. But that’s just not true. HIV does exist, and those fears (however false they may be) exist too. Ask a Buddhist: Hiding from your fears won’t make them go away.
We just need to tailor our hope, a lesson I learned from the CEO of an advertising firm. After I’d been working there for years, she offered me a promotion—so I told her I was HIV positive. I wanted to make sure that she knew why I had been ill for months and would continue to be ill until…who knows? I wasn’t required to tell her. But I wanted to. She smiled and took my hand. “So they’re finally going to find a cure for this,” she said. I stared at her, palms sweating, fighting tears with deep breath. “I just know,” she continued, “that this world wouldn’t let a person like you die before their time.”
In the end it’s about blinking into the healing light of reality, although everything except the truth might be blinding you. And if we can do that, a beautiful thing can happen—we can regain our hope, hope sprung from truth, more powerful than the face of failure and falsity, a hope that is a stronger beast than any other.
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comments 1 - 7 (of 7 total)
dnice, Yonkers, 2008-04-03 00:18:03
This retrovirus is man made if you can understand how the virus replcates. Going into a healthy T cell with enough viral information (RNA) to form a complement (DNA) which then transcribes more viral DNA. This takes place in the healthy T cells nucleus and incorporates its self with the T cells chromosomes. Once their the only way out for the virus is to rupture,kill the T cell and infect other healthy T cells. Because of the host range (only infects humans). Yes this is a man made disease.
Elaine Farrell, Monticello, NY, 2008-04-01 15:53:30
Typhus,Typhoid,Cholera, Malaria,Bubonic plague, Dengue fever,Tetanus, Diptheria,Measles,Mumps, Chicken pox,Smallpox, Anthrax,Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A/B,Polio,etc. These diseases have existed over centuries worldwide, killed many, but scientists have found cures, treatments or vaccines. HIV is just another to add to the list of living organisms that get out of control if the conditions are right. Could someone use HIV to target people? Sure. We aren't the only nation that can. Think about it.
russ, albuquerque, 2008-04-01 12:37:27
dear jesse, there is definite reason for many to believe that AIDS was caused by the government. In the late 80's the London Times published on the front page the evidence that showed that the african countries which received the smallpox vaccinations were the countries that exploded with HIV/AIDS. Haiti and brazil were also included in that smallpox vaccination campaign. Dr. Leonard Horowitz ("Aids, ebola,...") proved that pharmas and other gov agencies had purchase orders for the virus.
andreas fulcher, dallas, 2008-04-01 10:55:07
AIDS is a consequence of our own sin. I knew whan I was living my 8 year fantacy vacation as a pro (American) football all-star, that AIDS would catch up to me. Abusing my status in Germany, HIV was a wake up call to get my life right with our higher power. Since 1996, with HIV, my construction company has grossed over $3,000,000.00. Nobody kept me down. The notion that the Government invented AIDS is just another excuse to justify our immoral behavior. We need Christ, then life can be awesome
todd, , 2008-01-08 23:07:46
I would like to say why would
the government or anybody want
to find a cure their is to much money for pharmacutical,shareholders,and stockholders to lose out on.Think about it if they had cures for most illness's tthey would lose out on billions of dollars.Heck there is no cure for the common cold yet people buy billions of dollars of over the counter drugs.These people want you to be sick or they wouldn't have a job
SHANTAE, NEWARK, 2007-12-14 15:46:17
I THINK THATS A NICE STORY
Mark C. MacLean, New York City, 2007-12-13 12:30:34
comments 1 - 7 (of 7 total)
I just read your story and as I am a white male homosexual, I honestly like you believe it was a plot, but by the republicans to rid the world of homosexuals, blacks and hispanics and while doing that stuff the pockets of every pharmaceutical company. I have learned to challemge this and it has helped imensily, fight back every life on this planet is equal and of great importance don't let the white republicans win this war fight that disease within you and win.