The First Edition of the International Carnival of Pozitivities
Welcome to the Premier Edition of the International Carnival of Pozitivities. In this, the “25th” year of AIDS, there is little discussion in mainstream media about the disease. I hope that this blog carnival can help remedy the problem. There are many resources for communicating within the HIV/AIDS community. Getting the message out to the average person, however, is a different matter. We know that education is the single most important means of blocking further spread of the viruses that cause AIDS. However, multiple factors prevent valuable and practical information from being disseminated. Primarily, there is a sense of prudishness and embarrassment that comes from discussing the mechanics of sex. Secondly, people fear that teaching condom use will lead to promiscuity among the target audience and they insist on teaching “abstinence-only” instead. In an attempt to protect the virtue of their kids, leaders who follow this approach are risking their children’s lives. There is, after all, a reason that we do not call it the “gene puddle”; sex will happen.
A few weeks back, I hosted the Carnival of Bent Attractions and then a local weekly carnival, The Tar Heel Tavern. I had a great time working on both and went seeking a blog carnival for people living with HIV/AIDS. I could not find anything listed for our needs, so I decided to create a new forum for the international community of people who are affected by this disease. I am hopeful that we can continue to find people from within and outside the HIV/AIDS community to contribute articles. I also wish to see us expand our audience by finding hosts with mainstream audiences mixed with those who know and understand this disease. Otherwise, we will find ourselves continuing to preach only to the “choir and the amen-corner”.
One last note of preface: there is a tendency of people to think in limited terms about who is affected by HIV/AIDS. We know of the gay male and IV-drug communities around the world and we are learning of the terrible impact on individuals in indigenous and ethnic communities. We must move beyond the demographics, however. It is one thing to refer to the fact that in the US, for example, AIDS is now the leading cause of death among African-American women between the ages of 25-44. What is not being stated is the fact that if any single one of us is living with HIV/AIDS in our community, then we are all living with HIV/AIDS. We need to own this disease communally for the simple facts that it is transmissible and tragic and that it infects people not because it is punishment, but because it is possible. Over 42 million souls, people like you and me, are infected across the globe today. Unless we find a way to shift the paradigm of care-giving, prevention and compassion to include all of us, there will be many more tears to shed in the future.
Please pull up a chair and join me in looking at our first words to the human community from this new forum. I hope that you get something worthwhile from visiting and that you will come back on a monthly basis to read about what our lives are like with HIV/AIDS. Only through understanding can we grow compassion and only through communicating can we grow understanding. Come and communicate with us. Please leave your feedback for each of us who is participating here this month.
º º º
Our very first submission came to us from Australia, where Matty the Damned writes for the blog The Spin Cycle. Matty describes the power of self-acceptance through seeing himself as a threat to the larger community. In his article, he describes the phenomenon of “second-wavers” and how, like in the US, people of color are now falling to HIV/AIDS through heterosexual contact. His article, I Am a Weapon Of Mass Depravity, explores his thoughts about a number of issues facing the HIV/AIDS community. Congratulations to Matty for being the first ever contributor to this new effort! Please be sure to leave him feedback on his efforts.
As I began talking up the concept of this carnival, I convinced a personal friend and supporter from “the mainstream” to write down her thoughts on HIV/AIDS from the perspective of an outsider…one who is disease-free but supportive. Jody of Gray Matter Flatulence put together a fine article entitled AIDS is a Societal Problem, Not a Religious Agenda. She states, “I do not know many heterosexual people who will talk about AIDS. I do not know many heterosexuals who will admit that they know someone with AIDS or have lost a family member or friend from AIDS.” I think Jody is highlighting the problem of talking around the “elephant in the living room.” Perhaps her article will generate some good conversations. Please feel free to share your opinions here or on her site.
Ben in Berlin, of NewEurasia, submitted an article about Donor Politics and Priorities in countries of Eurasia where the prevalence of AIDS is still limited to a small sector of the population, such as in Mongolia. His article reports “Although Central Asia’s epidemic is indisputably growing (from about 500 cases in 2000 to over 12,000 in 2004), unlike many other developing regions, Africa in particular, but also South Asia and Latin America, it is still quite small and concentrated in […] at-risk populations and has not yet entered the community at large. This provides an opportunity to prioritize among differing approaches for containing the illness.” Please have a look and leave any feedback you feel is appropriate.
Stephen of Stephen Mead Quilt Suite Videos has submitted his video Angels Falling, Excerpt #4 of the Quilt Series. The website states “In the do-it-yourself tradition of folk art, this home-made movie includes spoken word poetry, paintings, photos and digitized images, all meant to pay tribute to the AIDS Memorial quilt.” This is but one in a series of films that you can find on Stephen’s site. It is nice to have a mixed-media carnival. Thank you, Stephen, for participating. For those of you watching, don’t forget to leave Stephen feedback on his film (just leave a comment here at 2sides2ron prefaced with the phrase “For Stephen”.
It is not often that we think of the advantages of having HIV/AIDS, but Jay of Lassiter Space has encountered a few situations where that is the case. He describes, in his article Being HIV+ Has Its Advantages… , how he has been able to facilitate certain aspects of his life as a result of the familiarity with his pharmacists. I can think of similar situations in my own life, so I know it to be true…although, I think we would gladly wait in line/on queue in exchange for a cure. What do you think? Jay would enjoy hearing from you, so don’t be shy about leaving comments. He also submitted a post on why he writes about being HIV+. I imagine that many of us who are long-term survivors recognize the ugly truth that Jay brings to light, including the inherent racism, homophobia and bias against drug-users in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
I would like to interject an article of my own from 2sides2ron where I rant about being referred to as someone who is HIV. If you really want to get under my skin, refer to me as a disease. Does anyone out there agree with me about this distinction? I might well be infected by HIV, but I will not become it. I am still determined to kick its butt to the curb, and I don’t want to beat myself up in the process. It is fairly common to hear people say “Oh, he or she is HIV,” and I have begun to correct them. Am I out of line?
Pseudo-Adrienne of Pseudo-Adrienne's Liberal-Feminist Bias was nominated by Brad of AIDS Combat Zone for her round-up of international news from Planned Parenthood on the topic of HIV/AIDS. These news items remind us that we have to continue pushing our governments to do more in the global fight against this pandemic. The focus on Africa of these articles is much needed.
From Canada, Brian of Acid Reflux: Life and Times of a Poz Guy wrote I Hate Antibiotics!!!!!!!!!!!!! for inclusion in this carnival. Like Brian, I find I have “days like that” and react in much the same way he does to antibiotics. Sorry to hear about Buster, Brian. I hope he is better by now.
A few nights ago, I woke up from my afternoon nap a little later than I meant to do (7:30 p.m., actually) and having nothing in the house for dinner, I went to a local diner near Duke’s East Campus. While waiting for a table, I noticed a flyer announcing an important event scheduled for Tuesday of last week. Later, I checked my email to find that Brad had contributed Testing Day 2006, an article from his blog AIDS Combat Zone. As Brad states, it is very important for all of us to know our HIV status. Please read his article, and if you have not been tested, investigate the options available to you in your area. Testing Day 2006 was held last week here in Durham, but you can be tested any time you are ready to learn your status. Just make sure to inform yourself of all your options.
Richard of AIDS-Write.org sent in a poem that he shared at a community forum/discussion about the social marketing campaign "hiv (not) fabulous" at Plummer Park, West Hollywood. His poem, found here, examines his feelings about losing a partner, the stigma of AIDS and other themes. It is also included among notes exchanged with the director of the forum. If you are seeking to become an activist, perhaps you will learn some points from Richard. In an additional post, Richard evaluates productive-ness loss, an interesting soul-search that questions just what is lost by contracting HIV/AIDS. It certainly made me consider my life. I hope it does yours as well. Feel free to leave feedback for Richard on each of his posts.
The Dreamer, another 20+ year survivor of HIV/AIDS was nominated and has consented to participate in the Carnival, bringing work from Nightmare Hall - Welcome to my Nightmare in the form of Unbreakable. Once again, I am amazed to find similarities to my own life in his story, especially the car accident that should have been fatal but only left scratches and fairly superficial wounds. We both have questioned what else is in store for us. Please read this thoughtful post and let him know how you feel about it.
In Finding Out a Friend is HIV+, Christina of A Positive Voice: My Life Growing Up as an HIV+ Child shares with us a post from another blogger who, in writing about a friend who has been diagnosed with HIV infection, says, “It's like some kind of wake up call. Like, ‘wow, this actually happens to people that I know’.” In hearing people’s stories about learning their status or the status of someone they know, I am reminded how this is a really big deal for each of them. I personally had lost touch with that sense of importance as my test results came in over two decades ago. Still, when a friend of mine recounted how on hearing her negative results, she vomited on the nurse who revealed the good news to her, it is a striking statement of just how much our HIV status, whether positive or negative, once known, can produce a true gut-reaction.
I am going to end with three more of my own posts. I am a single gay man living with HIV/AIDS. It seems awfully difficult to find a partner with whom I am compatible. As such, I wrote Queer Queries to raise the question of what prevents me from developing relationship with others. I may be the cause or it may just be that the right person has not yet come along. I would be very interested in your opinions about my questions and hope that you will let me know what you think. Do any of you have similar feelings?
For those people out there who might think that being HIV+ is no big deal, I have put together this post to show what it might take you to continue surviving into your second decade with the virus. I think anything over 5 pills a day is shocking, but here I am taking about 30 per day. I refer to them affectionately as my side-dishes, because I take two of the doses with meals.
Finally, I wish to leave you with a message of hope. I wrote a poem called A Dry Well in which I realized that until I could love myself, warts and all, including my HIV status, I could not hope to share love with another. Perhaps this poem will resonate with some of you. Either way, please tell me about what it makes you feel.
That is it for this first edition of the International Carnival of Pozitivities. I hope that you will visit the main site for the Carnival, submit a post or volunteer to host a future edition. The Second Edition of the Carnival will be hosted in August, 2006 at AIDS Combat Zone. Take care and see you next month! Until then, Safe Journeys…
Categories: HIV AIDS HIV/AIDS blog carnival blog+carnival International+Carnival+of+Pozitivities Positive HIV+ ICP