World AIDS Day. If you didn't get me a present, don't worry about it. Lots of people who have HIV/AIDS don't even know that there is a World AIDS Day, let alone when it's observed. But basically it was thought up in the late eighties by a handful of United Nations bureaucrats in an attempt to focus a little more attention on the AIDS pandemic. They picked December 1st for the special day because it falls between election season and Christmas, a dead zone in the news cycle. And I suppose it has been effective as far as these things go. Health officials recite statistics, presidents make speeches, and popes pray for healer and sinner alike. But as to how the rest of us can best observe this awkward semi-holiday... I have no useful suggestions.
Some of my friends are doing really useful stuff, like volunteering with organizations such as Project Open Hand. Others suggested i pack a picnick basket and spend the day at the Memorial Grove, and spend the day remembering those who came before. At least one of my friends told me he plans to host a small orgy for a few of his HIV positive friends and work out a little sexual healing (to which I was not invited.). All fine ways to spend a day, but I'm finding it very difficult to do anything but brood.
A few evenings back i was experiencing... (despite a thorough racking of my brain i can't think of a classy way to say 'horniness,' all i came up with was 'certain urges' which sounds really creepy and unwholesome) and i decided to log on to one of the approximately 10,000 gay cruising sites to be found on the internets. The specific site is unimportant, none of them are in any way classy. Suffice to say it is a fairly main-stream one that is very popular amongst my peers. Not long after stepping out into the digital meat market i got hit with a chat request from someone who's handle was something to the effect of PozCuriousStreamofnumbers. He was handsome enough, though not really my cup of tea. And the conversation pleasant, if not thrilling. I was just about to beg my leave of him when, apropos of nothing, he asked me to infect him with HIV.
I was without words. All i could think to type after staring blankly at my screen for a very brief eternity was 'are you serious?' He assured me that he was, in fact, very serious. He said that he was tired of being afraid of catching HIV and he just wanted to 'get it out of the way,'
My face exploded. All. Over. The. Internet.
In retrospect i could, and should, have reacted differently. I should have taken him by the metaphorical hand and tried to walk him back from the very bad idea he had talked himself into. I should have reasoned, and cajoled, and given him the benefit of my experience. I should have helped him. Instead i cussed at him and called him names. I told him that he was a moron and an asshole and a stupid cowardly son-of-a-bitch. I told him that he was trading the true freedom of a healthy body for the illusionary freedom of sexual wantonness, and if he was too stupid to know the difference then he deserved to get sick. I said things and then worse things. I unleashed a stream of vitriol that would have made a biker blush, and before i even had time to register the tears streaming down my face he was gone. Soon his profile was too.
I wish that i knew this kid. I wish that i could talk to him and convince him that he is better being negative. That dealing with the fear of infection is so much easier than the endless doctors visits, and blood tests, and pills upon pills upon pills. I wish i could tell him that having HIV is an epic responsibility. A sacred fucking duty to never let that virus get past you. Because as much as getting HIV sucks, its fuck-all compared to the soul-crushing knowledge that you've failed and fucked up someone's life forever. I know how much it sucks
I've done things in my life that i'm not proud of. Some very bad things.
But I never really knew what Regret was until i failed in my responsibility. And I could never do that again. I couldn't live with myself.
I wish i could tell him that.