Wednesday, March 29, 2006

First Confusion, Then Silence, Action, Ribbons and Silence

I've been inspired by the response to my OpEd that was published in the Blade this past Friday. I am still a bit exhausted from the "fun" I had last night, but I wanted to at least continue the dialogue a bit more. The 750 word constraint that the OpEd page puts on a writer really limits what a writer can express.

I think I am disturbed, but not shocked, by the reaction of young people to the OpEd. You always are taking a risk and guessing a bit when you make sweeping generalizations about a population in a piece you write, especially when you don't have the data at hand to back up the generalization. So, I am disturbed that my generalization that young people are not hearing or talking enough about HIV/AIDS today is actually true.

Yes, I was too young to be around for the AIDS-scare of the 80's and 90's, but I was around for the ribbons. Red ribbons everywhere. People were talking about AIDS. The radical activism had pretty much died down, but the silence that had existed around AIDS in the early days was not around anymore. Now we seem to be back to the silence, but for different reasons. Before people were afraid to talk about AIDS, now people are sick of talking about AIDS.

Well, just because you are sick of talking about it does not mean that AIDS stops making people sick. When did it become uncool to wear the red ribbon? When did it become uncool to wear a condom and talk to your partner about status? Why are young people accepting the silence and why are the older and wiser generations letting them remain silent?

We really all have to start speaking up again about this issue. More importantly, we need to again let our ears listen to the people that are screaming about AIDS every day. These people are still out there, believe it or not. We've just all gotten so good at ignoring them.

There is obviously a lot more here to think about in terms of how we are going to again lift the silence on AIDS in our community. I plan to have sporadic thoughts posted on this blog about this issue in the future. This is what I am thinking about now though, here in the nation's capital where the HIV/AIDS rate is about as bad as it can possibly get.

Maybe the tipping point of this disease is already beyond our grasp. God, I hope not.

(Please feel free to post interesting articles on this issue here or send them along to me via email.)

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