Usually, I try to cheer everyone on World AIDS Day, but this year is an exception because I will be asking you to boycott the celebration of World AIDS Day. Before you accuse me of being a Debbie Downer, read my reasons and if you do not like them, you can always skip this one and click to the next blog.
Beyond their historical role in the Middle East political changes, Twitter and other social media networking sites have created a safe space for a population pulled between loyalty to culture and natural needs to express a collective wild sexuality. Up to now, a discussion about Arab sexuality is often a classical case study of orientalism: The sexually inhibited women and the lewd abusive men were once the ABCs of a course in Middle Eastern sociology.
The mental burden of being HIV positive is of substantial weight that could equal, if not exceed, the weight of the physical damage HIV can cause to the body. Unfortunately, this significance is met by a practice that still deals with broad categories of mental illness rather than the specificity of HIV-related mental problems. Mental health care providers in the case of HIV-positive persons are, mostly, social workers who lack the experience to deal with nuances of the problems rooted in the minds of poz folks.
Ramadan is the name of one of the 12 lunar months of the Islamic calendar. For 29 days of Ramadan, Muslims believe that they are supposed to fast from sunrise until sunset. Many HIV-positive Muslims wish to join their community in observing this important month ... Can they?
In Ramadan, Muslims practice the maximum self-control by denying their bodies every earthly pleasure during the daylight. This means, they cannot eat food, drink water or even have sex (bad news to some J). If a Muslim wrongs another human then his fasting is annulled and a Muslim will miss the great reward God promised to those who fast Ramadan truly.
While most things in the Middle East could be unfriendly to Poz persons, one thing keeps proving the opposite: Middle Eastern cuisine. A diet that is high in good fats, protein, vegetables and good carbs; how can you go wrong with that?
To be an activist is not about how big the effort you make; it is about how you think and what you believe. To challenge perceptions and misconceptions is either in your DNA or nowhere. Achieving the goal of World AIDS Day 2011 requires a spirit of activism, willing to challenge many predominant principles in our society. Some of these principles and values are entrenched not because of their validity but because of who benefits from them and promotes them, or who has the power to affirm them. Just as one philosopher stated: "The ruling principles are the principles of the ruling class."
While the virus in my blood is becoming undetectable, other things are becoming much more visible to me. My comprehension of my status as HIV positive is staging an assault on all aspects of my life and becoming excruciating. Hiding a label that tagged me is becoming a difficult task ... and no matter what success I am achieving in my life, the burden of this status is causing such bitterness that could burn away any feeling of success.
Weeks ago, we were saddened by the death of Dr. Robert Frascino. Dr. Bob insisted on delivering a message of tolerance towards all people and not only HIV-positive persons, responding to questions that sometimes drifted away from medicine to politics. He was a firm believer that a doctor has no choice other than to eradicate any moral judgments on the human body. Dr. Bob decided to declare his status to everyone, hoping this will help fight the stigma and prove that "HIV is not a death sentence."
"It started with a poster," an old nice woman once told me when I was a child explaining how in history, dictators used images and posters to demonize people they dislike, or to idealize the one and only beloved. We in the Middle East had many of these posters: a poster showing the beloved Sheik, King, or president hugging a child. Him visiting patients in the hospital. Him as a great teacher. Him taking a shower. Posters everywhere. And there were hate posters that depicted the enemies with horns.
It usually starts with "He was charming ..." then the drama follows. By now, I am kind of used to this soap opera. However, the story of "Toxic" was unique. Toxic is not only a young charming man who is seeking a "soul mate unconfined by the norms of queer culture" as per his profile. He will write love poems to the guys he will meet and will paint pictures of their dreams about the perfect life. Toxic will take you in a walk in the park, and will kiss you under a tree. You will fly with him to the sky of love so fast and once you've touched the clouds ... he will drop you.