Wednesday, December 1, 2010

World AIDS Day

Today, as a storm howls and rain and wind lash the last remaining leaves off the trees, I'm thinking about my comrades who died of AIDS.

Bill Haislip. Marshall Yates. Rafael Ramos. William Mena. Albert Ramos. Michael Davidson. Steve Schultz.

And of other friends, and folks I knew and worked with in the early ACT UP years (and was arrested with at the first big Wall Street protest in Spring 1987, and then again at the Supreme Court that October), all of them killed as much by capitalism as by this disease. Keith. David. Mike. Mark. Rob. Many more.

I'm thinking too of friends and comrades now living with AIDS/HIV, some of them for years now, the lucky ones who have medical coverage and all the various types of support it takes to survive. Which necessarily leads to thinking about everyone else, about the ongoing global toll and what kind of struggle it will take to end its ravages.

Of the roughly 33 million people worldwide now living with HIV, some 68 percent are in sub-Saharan Africa. It's no surprise that the region most robbed, exploited, devastated by capitalism, colonialism and the slave trade, and thus left the most impoverished, now bears the brunt of this epidemic. Women and children are hit hardest of all. A recent book edited by Professor Ezekiel Kalipeni—Strong Women, Dangerous Times: Gender and HIV/AIDS in Africa—looks like an important contribution to a socially conscious understanding of this development, as is Kalipeni's earlier book HIV and AIDS in Africa: Beyond Epidemiology.

As to older works about the early years of the AIDS crisis here in the U.S., two I remember reading and can recommend are And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts and Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir by Paul Monette. The best recommendation, though, is to keep fighting, for full worldwide funding for research, treatment, care and prevention. And for socialism, a system in which every possible resource will be directed toward all the needs of our billionfold humankind instead of stolen and hoarded by a tiny crew of thieving criminals.