I’m going to generously excerpt it, and then respond. I’ll probably make a lot of people angry, but such is life.
I’m sorry. It has taken me a long time to say this, but it’s time: I’m sorry.
It’s been almost 12 years since I became infected with HIV, and I haven’t died yet. I haven’t even had the decency to get sick. I am a walking, talking advertisement for why HIV seems not such a big deal to the younger generation–and indeed, many in my own age bracket. I know this is a terrible thing, and I promise in the future to do better. As gay activist Michelangelo Signorile recently told The New York Times, “If everyone in your group is beautiful, taking steroids, barebacking, and HIV-positive, having the virus doesn’t seem like such a bad thing.”
I’m sorry. At the tender age of 41–a year longer than I once thought I would live–I have never felt better. HIV transformed my life, made me a better and braver writer, prompted me to write the first big book pushing marriage rights, got me to take better care of my health, improved my sex life, and deepened my spirituality.
I’m sorry. I’ll try to do better.
I look physically and mentally healthier than ever. Sorry again. I know that by just going daily to the gym, walking on the beach, or dancing at the occasional circuit party, I am the cause of more people getting infected with HIV. I have helped persuade them by my very existence that HIV isn’t such a curse, that it can be survived, that it can be treated effectively, that you can live well and long with HIV if you look after yourself and stay alert and informed. I’m sorry. I’m almost as bad as those damn drug ads showing people with HIV triumphing over adversity.
In the future I’ll try to look sicker. Or I’ll stay home more. Promise. I’ll try to get depressed. I won’t work out. I’ll stay off TV. I will never tell anyone that treatments are far less onerous than they used to be (and I went through medication hell for several years in the 1990s). I’ll even repeat the lie that HIV transmission rates are exploding because of people like me, even though the latest solid data show HIV rates to be stabilizing or even declining in many cities. (A decline in infection rates in New York City last year! Sorry again.
You can see the symptoms. Far fewer gay men are dying of AIDS anymore. Sometimes local gay papers have no AIDS obits for weeks on end. C’mon, pozzies. You can do better than that!
Do you have no sense of social responsibility? Young negative men need to see more of us keeling over in the streets, or they won’t be scared enough to avoid a disease that may, in the very distant future, kill them off. You know, like any number of other diseases might. They may even stop believing that this is a huge, escalating crisis, threatening to wipe out homosexual life on this planet.
What are those happy HIV-positive men thinking of? Die, damn it.
Of course, we could always be thrilled that so many people are living longer and better lives with HIV. We could celebrate our reclaiming of sexuality after years of terror. We could even try new strategies for risk reduction among gay men–strategies that emphasize positive ways to care for our health rather than negative ways to scare the bejeezus out of everyone. But then we’d have no more people to scapegoat and blame, would we?
Advocate.com: Still here, so sorry
Go read the whole thing, please, and then come back.
Here are some responses:
There’s no excuse to glamorize life with AIDS as Andrew Sullivan does. In fact, more than ever, we need reminders of its dangers so that members of the gay community are vigilant in protecting themselves from the disease.
BoiForTroy: Andrew Sullivan’s Constituency of One
HIV not a big deal? Cause just a week back I was on a bike ride to raise money for people living with HIV and AIDS whose quality of life is in the toilet thanks largely to their inability to function after the disease and/or the side effects of the medication reduced them to waste. Mr. Sullivan should meet with those debilitated people cause they sure have a thing or two to tell him about how happy they are with their HIV gift.
Somah.com: Andrew Sullivan on Being HIV Positive
Maybe you’re not dead, Andrew. Maybe you’ll live to be 120 and Jesus will come down from the clouds and personally invite you to that neverending brunch in the sky. But you’re damn well dead to me—you and all the pretty words you ever wrote.
Nonfamous: Andrew Sullivan: New, improved, AIDS-ier
First off, some definitions:
- HIV — an alleged virus, never isolated, for which there exists no direct test. A scientist in the 1980s guessed that this mythical virus could be the cause of AIDS.
- AIDS — a collection of symptoms, said to have a common cause (HIV). Symptoms include things like cervical cancer, pneumonia, yeast infection, shingles and diarrhea.
- HIV Test — a test for antibodies believed to be associated with HIV. According to Wikipedia: “Manufacturers of all these test kits state that, ‘There is no single recognised standard for establishing the presence or absence of antibodies to HIV in human blood.'”
- AIDS Benchmark — according to the CDC, you have AIDS if you have any of the AIDS symptoms and are HIV+ (according to the test that isn’t reliable). If you are HIV negative, your symptoms aren’t called AIDS. If you are HIV+ without symptoms, you do not have AIDS. Note: This caused problems, because not enough people testing HIV+ were getting sick, so another factor was added… low CD4 T-cell count. Many people have low CD4 T-cell counts but no symptoms of sickness. This allowed the CDC to instantly inflate the number of people who supposedly had AIDS, even though the new people “with AIDS” were not sick at all.
Sullivan does not have symptoms. All he has is a positive result for an unreliable test for a virus that has never even been shown to exist.
No doubt, if someone has “AIDS symptoms” (regardless of HIV+ status or not), it’s not fun. Many of the experimental toxic drugs given to people with AIDS or who are HIV positive are more lethal than AIDS symptoms. Still, the relationship between HIV and AIDS is very weak. Most people with AIDS symptoms are not HIV+, and most people who are HIV+ do not have AIDS symptoms. HIV is not a death sentence, and Sullivan is living proof of that. Why should he be made to feel guilty for enjoying his healthy HIV+ life? Sullivan says he has been off and on medication, but many people who are HIV positive never take anything and still never get sick.
The vast majority of people make the HIV/AIDS connection out to be some sacrosanct edict and anyone who dares suggest that testing HIV+ isn’t such a bad thing is crucified for heresy. They are so sure that HIV is real and that it can be tested and that it leads to AIDS that they are unmoved by the stories of HIV+ (but not sick) children being murdered and deformed by fatally toxic experimental drugs they are forced to take. They accept the lies about AIDS in Africa without question. People in Africa often aren’t tested for AIDS, they are assumed to have it based on their symptoms… symptoms that occur more often without an HIV positive test than with it. Such people would do well to study the classic meaning of the word “liberal” (not to be confused with the contemporary meaning, which usually means “left-wing” or “socialist”).
- Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
- Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.
Everyone who tests positive for HIV is sold the idea that there is no cure, and that AIDS is eventually going to show up and kill them. It’s not true, and sooner or later, people need to question that. We’ll never learn what is making these people sick if people stick to pseudo-religious non-scientific orthodoxy and close their minds to anyone who dares question them or anything that questions the HIV/AIDS hypothesis.