What do you think of when you think of HIV and AIDS?
To be honest, I do not jump to Africa or Southeast Asia. Not because HIV/AIDS is not devastating to so many people and countries in those regions–it is. But because I am pre-occupied by its presence in our own city and province.
I think back to high school, when I read And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts. That book was my first introduction to the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS. It left me angry because it was damning in its portrayal of AIDS as a social disease. As a disease of stigma.
What does it mean that HIV/AIDS is a social disease? It means that the people it hits hardest here are First Nations, are MSM, are drug users. Segments of the population that have been or are marginalized in one way or another.
What does it mean to be a disease of stigma? It means that if you are positive you think twice about telling others. You are ashamed and afraid of the reactions of those around you. Some doctors say now that it is better to have HIV than diabetes (a controversial statement by any means), but one is easier to admit than the other.
In Vancouver, we are intimately tied to the history of the disease through the courage and honesty of Dr. Peter Jepson-Young, who went on camera to document his fight with AIDS. Dr. Peter faced the stigma head on and forced others to do the same. His diaries were shown across Canada and the world, but they contain an extra punch for those of us in Vancouver because they reveal the face of the disease in our city. There are roughly 13 350 HIV positive people in British Columbia, mostly here.
Something to consider.
This year for World AIDS Day, a coalition of UBC clubs is pulling out all the stops and turning the campaign to raise awareness into a week of talks, movie screenings, interactive art projects, and opportunities to meet and mingle with people interested in learning about the complex nature of HIV/AIDS .
The Dr. Peter Diaries will be screened as part of World AIDS Week at UBC, which runs from Nov 22 to Dec 2nd.
See the entire list of events below.
Nov 22 – 26
Make ART for AIDS + Pose-itively HIV
11am – 2pm SUB Entrances + Buch MASS
Canvasses, art supplies, camera supplied
You complete the picture/photo.
FREE HOT COCOA, CUPCAKES, & CONDOMS
Rubber Soul: Rock for AIDS Concert
8pm – 1am The Pit & The Gallery
7+ local musicians + 5 hours rocking out = Priceless
Tix: $12 @ Outpost, $15 @ Door
All proceeds go to fight HIV/AIDS
AIDS: Then & Now: Dr. Peter Diaries
5pm – 7pm Wood 5 lecture hall
Video log screening of local physician inflicted with HIV
Discussion on HIV/AIDS awareness after movie
Great Strides for AIDS Race
4pm – 5pm @ Main Mall near Flag Pole
Run, bike, skate, board for HIV/AIDS Awareness!
FREE bibs, gatorades, etc!
World AIDS Day Coffeehouse
5pm-9pm Marine Drive Global Lounge
Music, slam poetry and guest speakers from AIDS Vancouver and the Vancouver Native Health Society
Keep the light shining: Candlelight Vigil
6:30pm – 8pm North entrance of SUB
In memory of those passed away from HIV/AIDS