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Viral Politics, or How They'll Spin You Into Sin!

By Dave R.

May 31, 2012

Internet links shown in these posts are designed to provide more detailed information if required.

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Although we have stood at many crossroads over the thirty-year history of HIV, we seem to be at a crucial point in 2012 and it could go either way. It has never been such a lottery as to whether you can live openly and in reasonable health with HIV. It's a question of where you're born, under what sort of political system you live and what the social circumstances and safety nets are.

Many areas of the world have made huge strides towards acceptance and making good treatment available to all but equally many lands, cultures and political systems refuse to acknowledge the needs of people living with HIV and instead of getting better, it seems to be getting worse. What's really worrying is the fact that the most powerful democracy in the world could soon turn the clock back decades, if the promises of candidate Republicans are to be believed. If it could happen in the USA, where can't it happen?

The fact is, the double-edged sword of Damocles is swinging over our heads again. There's a financial crisis squeezing every last cent out of public support systems and there's a cynical, new morality which threatens to associate HIV with everything to do with sexual depravity, drug addiction and un-religious activities. When parents in Western countries can, unashamedly and unpunished, twitter that they would kill their children if they turn out to be gay, you know that the moral pendulum is turning against us.

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More Information: 100 Real Tweets from Homophobes Who Would Murder Their Gay Child

In industrialized societies we could very soon find ourselves on the wrong side of the morality fence yet again and thus undeserving of either sympathy or the necessary medical and social support that we've learned to feel is our right. The fact that the agenda is being promoted by elements of our own political structures to gain votes and by the religious hierarchy, to protect marriage and church attendance, is a terrifying prospect that people with HIV in other areas of the world are long used to.

It's a strange situation where the split between left and right, or centre and far right, is widening dramatically and splitting countries into distinct and different social belief structures. From the outside, the USA seems more than ever like two separate nations under one flag with polarized views, forcing politicians to take ever greater risks with whom they target to push their agendas.

The "If you're not with us, you're against us" feeling has spread to all corners of society and not just in the States. Thanks again George W! The fact that gay marriage and abortion have become such huge topics in the current American political arena has little to do with the morality of the issue and much more with pandering to populism in order to win elections.

More Information: YouTube vid -- Dan Savage loses half of his audience in a bible discussion

It's not only the States of course: if it were, we might still feel reasonably optimistic about the future for people with HIV. In Russia and Eastern Europe, the gay agenda has also hit the headlines with state-encouraged, city mayors and councils passing laws to ban the very mention of homosexuality in schools, or in public. How do they think this will help control the spread of HIV in those lands! Pride marches are regularly disrupted and people are beaten up by officially-backed thugs and openly stating your sexuality, never mind your health status, means stigmatism and an immediate block on any career or social prospects. The following link shows how parts of the USA may not be so far behind.

More Information: Rep. Zachary Wyatt: I Am a Proud Gay Man

It's not only the former Soviet states; even Western Europe is seeing a worrying increase in attacks on LGBT people. It was once briefly okay to walk hand in hand through the streets of Dutch cities with your same-sex partner. Nowadays, most people think twice because of the fear of abuse or physical assault. It's all part of the polarization of society worldwide and may be due to economic hard times; or a reaction to what to some people will see as the "Gaga factor" (an over-playing of the gay tolerance hand); or worried religions and religion-based political parties, that fear that because of that tolerance, empty churches are a symbol of the breakdown of society.

Strangely enough, the most progress in Europe has been made by countries with a very strong Catholic tradition. Spain and Portugal have both legalised gay marriage and that is reflected by what seems on the surface to be increased tolerance in South America. However, all these countries are now facing unbelievable economic pressures stemming from the world crisis. Brazil and Argentina have seen their economies grow and the standard of living with it and that has led to more tolerance of minorities but the question is, how long will it last?


The Politics of Culture

Even China has moved ever so slightly towards greater tolerance of LGBT people and has certainly developed a more pragmatic attitude towards HIV. India too and again, this may be directly due to an increased economic growth and feeling of well-being amongst its people and political structures, who don't feel so much the need to find scapegoats.

More Information: Global AIDS Policy in the Age of Obama

The most alarming trends are in Africa and the Middle East. The largest numbers of people with HIV in the world are in sub-Saharan Africa and yet thankfully LGBT people are not openly blamed for the epidemic because it is far more widespread amongst the heterosexual population. The problem there seems to stem from religion.

In the Islamic countries of Africa, homosexuality and HIV are often taboo subjects, with strict and severe laws which suppress homosexuality as much as possible. Although difficult to understand, at least this is consistent with what most people would expect from an Islamic state.

More Information: Islam and Homosexuality: Straight but Narrow

The Christian countries of Africa (with the possible exception of South Africa) have recently taken an alarmingly hard line regarding LGBT people and we've all read the horrific stories of deaths, beatings and long imprisonment. You only need to be suspected of being gay to be in fear of your life. Part of the blame has to go to a significant number of American, Christian evangelists who since the eighties have used Africa as a base for the spreading of fundamentalist Christian doctrines. They have found their way into the corridors of power and shameful as it may sound, have encouraged law makers to try to wipe out homosexuality completely, with the results that can be seen every day in the media.

Hate feeds hate as far as I'm concerned and it can become contagious. It doesn't bother me which political philosophy, or faith based doctrine you come from, you do not have the right to spread hatred about people who believe differently; the consequences are often a matter of life and death.

More Information: NC Pastor Apologizes for Encouraging Violence Toward Gay Children

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See Also
More on Interfaith Responses to HIV/AIDS

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Dave R.

Dave R.

English but living since 1986 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. HIV+ since 2004 and a neuropathy patient since 2007. I've seen quite a bit, done quite a bit and bought quite a few t-shirts if you know what I mean; but all that baggage makes me what I am today: a better person I believe, despite it all.

Arriving on TheBody.com, originally, was the end result of getting neuropathy as a side effect of the medication, or the virus, or both. I found it such a vague disease and discovered very little information that wasn't commercially tinged, or scientifically impenetrable, so I decided to create a daily Blog and a website where practical information, hints, tips and experiences for patients could be gathered together in one place.

However, I was also given the chance to write about other aspects of living with HIV and have now contributed more articles about those than about neuropathy. That said, neuropathy remains my 'core subject' although one which unfortunately dominates both my life and that of many other HIV-positive people.

I'm not a doctor or qualified medical expert, just someone with neuropathy and HIV who has spent the last few years researching the illness and trying to create information sources for people who want to know more.

I also have my own personal website and write for PositiveLite.com.


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