Oh, geez! I can hardly wrap my mind around the concept that it's been 25 years since our modern day Plague reared its ugly head in this country.
I'm still listening to the tail-end of a Frontline program of the title I used above. And while it brought back lots of memories of the early days, and I listened to folks I had read about in Larry Kramer's And the Band Played On say the same things they had been saying 25 years ago, I also heard some new folks from WHO, and from Africa, and Thailand, and other foreign lands talk about their individual and their countries' responses to what has become a global pandemic.
It's only going to get worse. The new generation of sexually active young adults have forgotten the lessons of the '90's. They don't think HIV can touch them. They are they fastest growing demographic for new infections.
I still get angry with every member of the Reagan administration who could have influenced the speed of the response, the course of research, the efforts of prevention back in the mid- to late '80's. And, yes, all you Reagan fans, that includes Saint Ronnie. If he hadn't been afraid to say the word AIDS, if he hadn't been such a raging homophobe, if he'd had an ounce of foresight for the cost of treating the disease vs the cost of preventing the disease, or at least the spread of the disease to the extent we now see in this country... but all that is shoulda, woulda, coulda that just drives me crazier than I already am.
And let's not forget Slick Willie. Jocelyn Elders was the best Surgeon General he could have possibly hoped for. SHe had the right idea about condoms in High Schools and Bill was a cowardly quisling (or is that redundant?) to accept her resignation. He should have given that women a Presidential Citation!
I guess it's because I worked as a volunteer and then later as a paid staffer at a grassroots AIDS service org. that I feel so strongly about this.
I went to grad school for a while, majoring in Community Health Ed. My advisor said she hated to loose me. She said I had a great mind, and I was full of "FIRE", but since what I wanted to do was design education programs for the Middle school and High school level to prevent HIV, STDs, and teen pregnancy, she said I'd spend my professional career beating my head against a brick wall and go home every night with a raging headache. Parents who think abstinence will keep their children safe from these dangers are deluding themselves and placing their children at risk. I think abstinence is a wonderful idea. But teenage hormones sometimes have different ideas. And that's why our kids need to know how to avoid life threatening and life changing diseases and pregnancy. Love is not always forever, Herpes IS. Or as the Tee my 13 y.o. XX offspring borrowed from me and wore to school one day said : "Don't Let Affection Lead to Infection, Put Protection on that Erection".
Do I need to say I got called to school to bring her an 'appropriate' top? When I got there I asked the Nurse to join the Ass't. Principal and the Barbarian Princess and I for a conference. When we were all assembled, I had B.P. tell them how many baby showers she had been invited to, so far, that year for classmates. She told them she'd been invited to 3 showers. I was appalled! And I told them so, in no uncertain terms. And I asked how, in light of those circumstances, that, just in her circle of friends, three 13 y.o. girls were pregnant, her wearing a Tee advocating prevention was inappropriate?
They hemmed and hawed and harumphed and finally the Nurse said, "Well, we don't discuss sex at school in mixed company."
Me:"So they can HAVE sex, they just can't TALK about having it?" Nurse:"Now, Mrs. D...."Me:"MY name is NOT MRS.D... it's MS B..." Nurse:"The school board sets policy...""Me :"Never mind, I can see I'm dealing with peoplpe who would rather bury their heads in the sand than protect children givin into their care. Here, B.P., go put this one on." ANd I handed her a Tee that said "What a Wonderful day it Will be When our Schools Have all the Money They Need and The Air Force Has to Hold a Bake Sale to Buy A Bomber" They didn't think too much of that one judging by their expressions, but I guess they didn't want to set me off on another tirade, cause they didn't say anything.