Today is World AIDS Day. My country’s consulate here in Melbourne has been showing their support for the AIDS-free by 2015 campaign, and to be honest, seeing support from the US like that makes me very proud to be an American.
World AIDS Day often goes unnoticed at our household, which to some extent is partly a good thing as I’m in a serodiscordant (aka “magnetic” relationship). What that means is that I’m HIV- and my partner is positive. He was diagnosed with HIV over 25 years ago and essentially abandoned by the medical establishment at the time and essentially expected to die within weeks.
Today he is a vibrant and healthy man, who I do love very much. When you look at him, you do not see HIV, but his humour and zest for life. Yet, HIV/AIDS is without a doubt a frequent presence in our lives. Some examples:
– When either of us is cut or has an open wound, we take it calmly but seriously. HIV may die when it hits open air, but there’s nothing to say that I could also pass something on which could worsen it.
– When he is off his medicine, he can become extremely lethargic and almost depressed, because the virus saps you of your strength.
– Separate toothbrushes, razors, and deodourant.
Being in a serodiscordant relationship is not what either us expected, but it is our life.
To be frank, whenever he reads about HIV infections going up (as they are here in Australia), he gets pissed off.
“How can anyone be dumb enough to catch it with all the information that is available now?”
As much as I have theorised on that subject on this blog, the fact is there are no clear cut answers.
We can talk about a heavily sexualised Gay & Straight media culture which rarely presents safe sex in a practical light as opposed to just going straight to the tantalising.
We can talk about the fact that we live in a society where we opt not to get uncomfortable for a few minutes, without realising that a little discomfort might be the difference between a positive and negative HIV result.
We can talk about how while PWA are definitely treated better in general, the fact that they are living longer and better lives still doesn’t negate the fact that life without the virus is better than without.
We can continue to talk and talk and go to fundraisers and wear ribbons, but if you don’t take the time to listen and educate yourself and others on the reality of the virus and the lifestyle changes it can impact upon you and your loved ones. Well, then it will hit you.
I love my partner with or without HIV (and yes, his HIV status is one of the reasons we moved to Australia), but I hope I live to see an AIDS-free 2015.
Just so I can end this on a lighter note, today also marks the 18th birthday of JOY 94.9,where I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of World Wide Waves since October. If you can, please support JOY with a membership. It’s a critical part of our community and it helps give voice to many who would be drowned out in our current media landscape.