Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Anti-vax and HIV deniers

This blog entry is great.

She points out that the AIDS deniers and anti-vaccination folks believe the things they do because they are too young to remember a world when kids were crippled or killed by polio and measles, or what it was like before the HIV cocktail came about.

I'm old enough to have grown up with at least one classmate who was twisted by polio, and for my parents to tell me what it was like to have to get smallpox vaccinations ("mommy, why do you and daddy and all my aunts and uncles have that big nasty scar on your arm?").

I was young, but I remember the horror of pre-cocktail AIDS deaths, with scores of people dying of "pneumonia", and knowing that there was nothing that anybody could do to help them, because it was a new disease, a tricky, fast-adapting microbe that started its work by wiping out peoples' defenses. I remember thinking that there would never be a cure, because it was too adaptable. I remember being amazed when they worked out AZT, and I still feel like we just discovered yesterday how to help HIV-positive people live longer, more normal lives.

I remember being the first generation to grow up believing that unprotected sex and IV drug use could be a death sentence because of AIDS, knowing that a condom could be the difference between life and death.

I remember seeing the impact of sex education and HIV awareness on people's behavior, and being thankful that my school district was blunt and thorough in its sex education. I still feel sick knowing that people in Africa are being told dangerous and cruel lies about AIDS and sex by people they trust to give them truth. I am afraid for what condition the people of Africa will be in ten or twenty years.

I can understand not realizing the importance of something if you have not lived in a time when it was a matter of life and death, but I cannot excuse being completely in denial of its value just because you didn't personally experience the crisis. That's arrogant and stupid.

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