Stop Blaming Victims
Today is World AIDS Day. But unlike events fostering awareness of other illnesses and diseases, it is one that carries a continuing stigma.
It’s not that AIDS is uniquely preventable; there is some fairly easy risk prevention involved in melanoma, lung cancer and cervical cancer but it has never become commonplace to blame the sufferers of these afflictions for deserving their fate.
Today I remember a man who died while being told by his own family that he was suffering just and divine punishment for being who he was: gay. I remember him and I think about his surviving partner, who had to then buy his own home back from those bigots who didn’t mind inheriting their despised son’s property.
Today I think about the evil intent of supposedly moral advocates who use risk factors of the vulnerable as proof that those they hate are terrible people. I think about how they twist any statistic available to kick dirty gay people when they’re up or down and trash them publicly. And I get angry.
I’m angry because they’re hypocrites. Because they would never say that poor black women are obviously immoral because of increased risk of AIDS the way they do about gay men. I’m angry because these people are allowed to present themselves as pro-family, as pro-life, as pro-marriage when they only want to use their influence to impose private religious beliefs on everyone through legislation. I’m angry because these people can be cheered for saying the United States is a “Christian Nation.”
Today I think about those who condemn people for contracting a disease while denying them the knowledge of how to prevent it. I think about how
abstinence ignorance-only education is still commonplace and acceptable in this country because people want to control what their children know, leaving them unprepared for adulthood.
Today I think about how despite decades of hard science on HIV, that those with the disease in Los Angeles can’t count on finding obstetric care or even to find a dentist who will treat them. (As if we still were in the dark about transmission factors for saliva!)
Today I remember the dead and the living with AIDS and the struggles they face to be treated like human beings.