Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Age of AIDS

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.



Doris Marie said...

and "no, thanks" on the kind offer of transplants..... already tired of pouring the water to the wilted flowers in my front yard. One or two are real hydro-lovin! I plan on murdering them slow.

Flo said...

I think I missed something with the transplants, but that's ok, I miss a lot and continue to go on my merry way. :)

I say "tirade away" Holly! Now that I have kids, I tend to voice my opinion more frequently, especially if it's something I feel strongly about. I've been to the school board over several issues--dangerous health room procedures, inadequate student-teacher ratios, and hastily made decisions without parental knowledge, let alone parental input. I was even ON one of the school boards, and I left my seat to go around and present in front of them, like any other patron.

So keep it up! Every once in a while, you may get through to some of those blockheads!

Doris said...

Flo..... the transplant comments have nothing to do with blog...... just one of my flights of ideas

G Bro said...

Aahhh....a run-in with a principal - it's been so long! i think it was when Mr. Ennis called me out of class and told me to get a haircut. So I had Yolanda tease it up into a 'fro in Spanish class and walked around that way until my weasely English teacher ratted me out. I forget her name. She was cute (in a platinum hairspray sort of way), but she was no Debra Lafave.

Doris said...

here is a leap of ideas on an old email subject, Holly

a word that describes you......


G Bro said...

Forthy - soon to be forthy-eleven!
Anybody else besides me feel an upside to getting older? I don't think the kids like it when I pontificate, but I do it anyway. And prefacing your comments with, "It was different 40 years ago" is a lot of fun. Especially when you've lived in one city all your life and work with lots of newcomers. "Back in my day, that was a cornfield!" "We used to sit up there and smoke dope!" "I told you that was gonna happen someday."

Flo said...

I dunno, GBro. I'm at an age now where I can remember things from 40 years ago. Like the name of my first grade teacher--Sr. Teresa. I don't think that holds much weight with my kids. Now, if I were to talk about 25 years ago, since the kids attended/attend my alma mater, I can tell them their Spanish teacher used to be Sister so and so, but when she taught me Spanish and religion, she was Miss so and so, and now she's Mrs. so and so. And these things were better when I was there, but you're so lucky because THESE things are better now. But I don't think they care much about that, either.

I've seen a lot of corn fields and cow pastures turned into commercial zones and subdivisions, too. But I never used to sit up anywhere and smoke dope. That's why they call me St. Flo.

Flo said...

P.S. Loved the "forthy-eleven" comment, g bro.

And I never had to go to the principal's office--it's that St. Flo thing again. (One of these days I'm either going to be struck down by lightning or go to h-e-double toothpicks for lying!)

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