For instance, sports make my eyes roll back in my head… but I am completely captivated by the Black plague of the 1340’s. My favorite book The Great Mortality by John Kelly is about the societal effects of the great plague and I have read it cover to cover at least 7 times. It is an absolutely fascinating book and, odd as it may sound, it is a very light read.
My husband chuckles when I tell him that I am feeling blue and am going to read about the plague to cheer myself up, but when I read about how people persevered in the face of such staggering circumstances it does give me hope.
There was one small city which lost 9,000 people in one month, an average of 300 people per day.
When I think about the SARS epidemic and how something like only 18 American’s died nationwide during the entire “epidemic” I find myself sniffing in disdain for the average person’s panic over the situation. I think about how the news would look if a city as large as Cleveland, Ohio was losing 300 people a day to a devastating disease and what if the news was reporting similar stories in city after city. The panic which would ensue as cities which hadn’t been infected yet watched the news for evidence of their impending doom. I can’t help but imagine Donald Sutherland giving a progress report, a ‘la “The Puppet Master” or “Outbreak” with his chart and the red dots of infection quickly engulfing the entire country.
I bring this up because several stories about HIV infections and AIDS caught my eye on yahoo news today.
One was about how in some small poverty ridden state of India it is very common for a person to be completely ostracized when they are diagnosed with HIV. The story also told of how their families were also ostracized in some instances, and how they couldn’t get priests to perform funerals, or even someone to cremate the body.
The next article I read was about how there is this wonderful test for HIV which requires only the painless swab of a cheek and 20 minutes to determine if a person has HIV and how the CDC recommended that all emergency rooms offer the test to anyone who comes in for treatment, regardless of why they were in the emergency room, but there wasn’t funding for the program and insurance companies refuse to pay for it.
There was another article that reported on a study where they found out a lot of people don’t think AIDS is fatal. AIDS is always fatal. How can people today not know that? It is fortunate that with modern medicine it is possible to keep people with HIV from progressing to full blown AIDS for years, but once it becomes AIDS it is always fatal. In the US AIDS is reasonably under control, but the disease is still spreading like wildfire across Africa and Asia. China denies it has invaded its shores. The leaders of Iran deny that there are homosexuals, so I can only imagine what their reaction to the spread of HIV and AIDS is. India, as I mentioned above, has its own problems with the disease. South Africa has an infection rate of something like 17%. In the 2005 about 13.4% of the population of the United States of America was made up of people of African descent, and about 4.2% of the population was made up of people of Asian descent. The AIDS epidemic in South Africa is the equivalent of every person of Asian or African descent in the US in 2005 having been diagnosed with AIDS. Think about that. Think about how often you pass someone of African or Asian descent just walking down the street or eating in a restaurant.
I suppose I shouldn’t be dismayed by the lack of information or the lack of coverage the disease gets in America. This willful ignorance of the real problem at hand is pervasive through out our society. American’s can barely be bothered to think about the tragedy we have created in Iraq, where the equivalent of the 9/11 attacks happen just about every week or so.
It is a great tragedy that this disease which is completely preventable, still rampages across the globe in a gleeful shroud of ignorance and malice.
The “Religious Right” advocates teaching “Abstinence or else”TM, and distributes false information about the effectiveness of condoms.
Last year there was some Congressman who announced he got HIV from some medical procedure, but was afraid to tell anyone because he knew “no one from my church would understand.”
Is that really what Jesus would do? Lie and then tell someone it’s their own fault for not following his advice to keep their pants on? Would he look at the death tolls in Africa and think “Eh, it’s not in my neighborhood. Besides, they aren’t real and their suffering isn’t real because they don’t look like me and they don’t believe the same things I do and they didn’t keep their pants on like I told them.”
And still the death tolls rise.