Viral Politics, or How They'll Spin You Into Sin!
By Dave R.
May 31, 2012
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Islam is a far more complex matter. Removing dictators doesn't lift the yoke from LGBT people. Iraq, Libya, Tunisia and Egypt have recently removed their oppressive leaders but the day to day situation for LGBT people and people living with HIV has likely become worse not better. When a deeply rooted system is changed, it creates a vacuum into which come disparate groups who then try to gain power for themselves. It's a natural process but not one that makes it easy for enlightened thinkers.
Hopefully, the more fundamentalist brands of Islam will not spread to every country in the region. The Sharia laws do not look kindly of sexual difference. We must hope for regimes that are more tolerant and more democratic but social media or not, don't expect life for people with HIV (from whatever cause) to get any better soon in those lands.
More Information: Iran Reportedly Hangs Gay Man
Countries here in Western Europe also have large Islamic populations and like it or not, Islam does have an influence on political thought and action in western democracies. Not so long ago in the Netherlands, an Imam called for all homosexuals to be taken up to the top floor of the highest building and be thrown head first to the ground. Is he in jail, or has he been punished for hate crimes? No sir, this is a tolerant land with a freedom of speech, and long may that continue. Then again, even radical Islamic residents are also voters; draw your own conclusions.
This one example shows that even western democracies can't afford to look at the situation simplistically; it's far more complex than you may think. For every Islamic community in France, or Germany, or the UK, there's an opposing far-right movement, sworn to oppose the so-called 'Islamisation' of western society. It can only end in tears you might think, and certainly for people with HIV who are targeted by both movements.
To my mind, you can't separate the moral influences on life with HIV from the political because moral attitudes determine political responses (and vice versa) and we need the finances to support the search for a cure and the relief of the consequences of HIV. Those finances can come partly via donations and charities but the vast majority comes from governments and the pharmaceutical industry and as with any business, the aim is to make profits. If profit margins are squeezed in an economic crisis, we are reliant on the good will of politicians to keep the ball rolling so to speak. They will be giving out money with no immediate returns. Cynically, the longer they keep people alive with efficient HIV treatment, the more of a burden those people are on the economy.
It will always be a temptation to cut research funding and support systems, and all over the world at the moment that's exactly what's happening. This leads to painful headlines about people who can't afford their medication, or extra treatment; or the medication is just not available; or a free needle service is cut, leading to cross-infection for drug users; you know the story. I wonder if this sort of financial cutting back doesn't lead to more costs for the health services in the long run, as more people become unnecessarily sick.
More Information: The HIV/AIDS Epidemic In Africa: Implications For U.S. Policy
When you also throw moral and religious ethics into the mix, it's not hard to see the consequences for people trying to live as productive lives as possible with HIV. When those religious and moral overtones are added to political election campaigns, you just know it's going to get nasty. As much as celebrities like Gaga and the 'It Gets Better' campaign drum up worldwide publicity for tolerance and acceptance, there are far more people following their own agendas by undermining that goodwill and playing on people's fears. As history shows, when a society becomes fearful, it turns on its minorities (just ask the Jews, displaced people of African origin, the Native Americans, or the indigenous populations of most ex-colonial countries across the world).
People with HIV have to find their niche in history and as thirty-year-old newbies to the history books, that's a confusing mission. Undoubtedly, most of the world will see LGBT people as essential components of the HIV story, despite the fact that they're vastly outnumbered by the heterosexual HIV-positive populations of much of the rest of the world. Other categories such as drug abusers may be completely lost in future history books.
The problem is that HIV is and always will be associated with sex. This gives the politicians and theologians their toe holds for action and enables them to defend non-existent, or invented values by accusing LBGT people of bringing down the institutions of morality that have long since disappeared in the real world. Nobody ever accuses heterosexuals of destroying marriage and yet look at the divorce statistics across the entire planet! Even Islam makes divorce easy, although many women don't have a say in it!
We run the risk of being marginalised at best and demonised at worst but either way, the future quality of life for people living with HIV will probably not improve while the finances and political will are being choked by circumstances. Let's hope that the 'cure' will emerge out of the gloom and re-energise the social concern for HIV. Whether that will do anything for people currently living with the virus, remains to be seen. It is highly unlikely that any cure will work retrospectively, so once again we'll be relying on political and public good will to maintain current levels of care.
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HIV, Neuropathy and More: Avoiding Becoming a Nervous Wreck
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.
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