I wanted to post about this, but I find myself lost for words, full of reactions that lend themselves more to expressions and wild gesticulations than to well-ordered posts.
I am angry. I am sad. I am angry some more, and sad some more. And sometimes, just a little bit happy.
I grieve the people I never got a chance to meet, or got a chance to know. The people I’ve heard stories about, or who I remember as vague figures far into my childhood. The generations of people that were lost, and that continue to be lost. I don’t really know how to grieve generations of people I will never meet, or who would have lived in places I’ve never been to. The scale of the tragedy of this disease goes beyond what any of us can comprehend.
And then I’m angry. I’m angry that so many people died from an easily-preventable illness because they were lied to. Because they were told deliberate lies about how to protect themselves. Because they were lied to about being people worth loving and protecting. I’m angry that people living with HIV and AIDS are still stigmatised. I’m angry that people see it as anything other than a fucking awful disease. I’m angry that we so easily separate morality and compassion, and that there are people who think that anything is worth the suffering HIV can still inflict. I’m furious beyond measure that we blame people for being sick. Like there are any perfect ways to prevent infection. Like any of us are perfect. Like there are no other imperatives in people’s lives. As if there is no poverty, no sexism, no homophobia, no sex-negative lies about HIV prevention. We don’t live in a just world. Nobody deserves to get sick.
And then I’m angry that people continue to die for lack of access to the medications they need to survive. I’m angry that people’s lives aren’t seen as worth the money it would take to save them. I’m angry that gambling with the lives of others is seen as a reasonable way to make money, and that one person’s profit is worth other people’s slow and painful death.
I’m glad that those medications exist, and that people are fighting to get them. I’m glad that there are people alive today because of them. I’m grateful for lifesaving education, for people who work to fight useless stigmas, and for all the cultural changes that the overwhelming tragedy of AIDS forced upon us. The ordinariness of safer sex, the routines of regular testing and conversations about status. Honesty, communication, understanding. These wonderful things that are so much part of the circles I move in, that I’m not sure would be the same if it weren’t for our thousands and millions of dead.
And then I’m at a loss. I guess we’re all at a loss.