On 11 September 2001 I posted:
11 Sep 2001
Thoughts of a survivor: Guest article by Ian Smith, the Dowager Empress of Hong Kong
It is difficult to give advice to any one regarding HIV/AIDS. However here are a few thoughts from a long-term survivor.
Do not panic. This is easy to say, but the best thing you can do, is ignore the virus as much as possible, within reason. If you are on medication, never miss a dose. Always have safe sex to avoid passing the virus to someone else, and keep alcohol and other recreational drugs down. By this I do not mean give everything up, just try cutting down. Think, “Do I really need that E tonight?” If you do, take only half, or less. This has the advantage of saving money. It also has the advantage of not damaging your immune system as much…
… Dr Lynn Pulliam, writing in the Lancet, predicts up to 30 per cent of patients infected with HIV will develop a debilitating dementia. HIV is the most common cause of dementia in people under the age of 40, Dr Lachlan Gray at the Burnet Institute says, and recent studies have suggested milder neurocognitive impairment could be as high as 50 per cent of the infected population.
Many people with HIV are leading normal lives, their viral load undetectable and their physical appearance excellent. This, ironically, is part of the problem. In an interview shortly before his death, the British AIDS activist, Cass Mann, put it like this: ”The greatest disservice AIDS charities pay to [HIV-positive] men today is to present images of them as healthy, buffed, gym bunnies with glossy beautiful bodies having great lives, climbing mountains, partying in Sydney and looking beautiful. If they showed people in hospices dying of dementia or people with lipodystrophy that would stop them in their tracks.”
A recent study by Dr Lucette Cysique, of the Department of Neurology at St Vincent’s Hospital, predicts the number of people with HIV dementia will surpass 2600 by 2030. The toll on their family and friends is tremendous. Moreover, Dr Cysique says the annual cost of care will increase from $29 million in 2009 to $53 million in 2030.
We can be proud as we don our red ribbons this World AIDS Day that new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths have fallen to the lowest levels since the peak of the epidemic…
There is no room for complacency. AIDS is still an incurable condition. We must act to curb it; we must reach out to this new generation so they know how to protect themselves. There is no time to waste. The global fight against AIDS is not over.
And The Dowager Empress is no longer with us either.
And we have all of us mourned the passing of so many others.
Then go back to 2000:
Diary for December 2000
Saturday, December 2, 2000: Yesterday was World AIDS Day.
My little circle of friends has displayed over the past week an amazing range of emotions. We’ve had love gone wrong, love gone right…and so on. Quite dramatic really. Perhaps the dominant note, one way or another, has been love.:-)
I have, I must say, found December rewarding so far.
One of my circle has an anniversary coming up of one of life’s turning-points. There are mixed emotions involved, which I, perhaps, understand better than most. The person involved may read this, and he knows my thoughts are with him.
Sunday, December 3, 2000
I hope to dedicate December, one way or another, to love and understanding. Today it is the turn of my ICQ friend Atakan, a young (not gay) teacher in Turkey. He is quite a devout follower of Islam, but not a fundamentalist; indeed he found some elements of this site a bit shocking, but still talks to me Given that here the popular image of Islam is coloured by media reports of extremism and violence, it is as well to reflect on the fact that this is a distortion. Here, for example, is what Atakan recently messaged me:
ATAKAN ALI 11/30/00 8:08 AM : “Be so tolerant that your bosom becomes wide like the ocean. Become inspired with faith and love of human beings. Let there be no troubled souls to whom you do not offer a hand, and about whom you remain unconcerned.”
ninglun 11/30/00 4:41 PM: That’s very beautiful. Thanks.
And then 2006:
Queer Penguin on World AIDS Day
Posted on December 6, 2006
I have to admit, though I am usually a regular Queer Penguin reader, that visiting the hospice and other matters having perhaps distracted me, I only noted Hypocrisy and Condemnation are Also Diseases via Gay Erasmus. Sam’s post really is very honest, confronting, and powerful. Brace yourself if you are homophobic, but read it nonetheless. You may get a taste of reality. He is also quite rightly trenchant on stupid gay men who can only think with their genitalia. Of course, that failing, and the often combined stupidity (or is it a sad incapacity for genuine human feeling?) of so-called recreational drugs, especially the mind-mincers in the speed family, infect (in more ways than one) party people and airheads of every sexual identification, more’s the pity.
Sam’s post is still there and still worth a visit.
…I don’t pretend to have a solution to what is currently a disturbing problem, that nearly 30 years after the mysterious ‘gay disease’ first appeared, men are still falling victim even when there is now a simple and almost always effective way of avoiding the disease. Maybe a reduction in the omnipotency of sex in gay men’s world – at least in inner Sydney – could be a start, but it’s not like the urges will suddenly cease to exist.
I’d like to think that the first step will be for gay men to have less of a fight on their hands when nurturing their own self-respect and sense of responsibility. Once they genuinely value and treasure their lives, why on earth will they want to jeopardise it?
I also have a feeling I’m not the only person who’s not just made, but repeated, a stupid mistake that could have cost me dearly. Those without sin, etc. Every day I am grateful I’ve not become another statistic, but I never forget that is purely a case of good chance. I don’t intend to repeat that mistake ever again.
In the meantime, I also never forget those friends, and friends of friends, who live with the spectre of HIV because of one mistake.
At The Empress’s Wake, Midnight Shift Hotel
And here is a special treat — one of M’s circle, and hence for some years of mine.
See also Sadness (1999)