Latex. It's a Good Thing.
Two things here--one is that HoneyHaired Grrrl and I went to the the production of Rent put on by her high school. Rent is the La Boheme of a New York artiste community in the early 80's. HIV is the death sentence carried by the young, attractive, vocally blessed characters we meet; the modern day equivalent of tuberculosis/consumption/the white death in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I doubted that these kids in this midwestern auditorium really understood the bone-chilling fear and hysteria that accompanied a positive ELISA/Western Blot test 25 years ago.
Which brings me to the second thing. HIV infection has a longer survival rate in the United States than Diabetes Mellitus. This to me is miraculous. I remember the early eighties when AIDS patients were admitted to the ICU for the comfort care(read this as respiratory therapy and narcotics)we could provide. We didn't put those young men--they were all heartbreakingly young and they were all men--on ventilators. We had no medical therapies to provide. We had nothing but treatments to ease the struggle of breathing and medication for pain.
I was reminded of those days when I was driving HoneyHaired to the orthodontist and I heard Robert Gallo, one of the gurus of AIDS talking on NPR this afternoon and discussing his Op Ed piece in the Washington Post(linked to in his highlighted name). We've come a long way in 25 years and President George W. Bush is a part of that I was surprised to hear, but thankful.
Here's hoping to a new campaign to educate our young and old, apparently the "geriatric" population is a fast rising and overlooked population for new diagnoses of HIV infection. The Viagra Generation. Perhaps it could become a new Martha Stewart-style mantra, "Latex. It's a good thing."
please note, photos: Rent, AZT, AIDS quilt in Washington,D.C. in 1997