The Death of AIDS.

glow2

Many would have us believe that AIDS is under control,
and that all is “normalized”.
Sure thing, bro!
(or do we just need to feel like we have moved on … ?)

AIDS has changed the world in more ways than we may possibly know. We will never fully comprehend the impact of losing so many people taken by this disease. Their contributions could have altered the face of humanity, the world of art and literature, the rearing of future leaders, the impact on communities, and the hearts of countless individuals. And this is all looking at the impact of AIDS in a broad perspective. It is a disease that, regardless of our own personal admissions, affects us all. However, behind the public fray of communal loss, social change and medical advances, lies the experience of the individual who must still awaken each day with the acknowledgment that they carry inside of them an evident ticking time bomb. No different from the rest of us who live with our own mortality, but distinct in that their clock has a name. That name is AIDS.

– Christina Landles-Cobb (USA)

(The above quote is an excerpt from the introduction to my book “JISEI”.)

We all want the AIDS crisis to be over. We have desperately wanted not to have to read anymore about crimes against humanity in many countries and regions, about the travails of Wikileaks, about Iraq, about Afghanistan, about financial crises, about chemtrails, about HAARP … and now about AIDS. In media actuality, these problems simply do not exist anymore; and they perhaps never really existed at all. Time to move on to the next media hype that carpet bombs the surface of the latest travesty. Just remember — that there is a whole generation that was at war against AIDS, that buried their lovers, husbands, wives and children – one after the other, that had their lives turned upside down believing in “an eventual cure” and who are still having to battle the effects of time, harmful medicines and an embattled aged body and mind. Not many in the West are dying of AIDS now … but there is an entire generation that is still living with the AIDS syndrome; every day. Those beautiful men and women, artists, authors, actors and everyday citizens have aged decades in their bodies and consciousnesses — because of The Virus and the “so-called Miracle Drugs” wreaking havoc for so long. There are no guarantees in Life, and the measure of a successful life lies not in the number of years one has lived on this planet. Many incredible persons have died “before their time”. But on this day — if not otherwise — take a moment to reflect on the war against AIDS — i.e. a war of consciousness; and both those who have succumbed, and those who sit with the scars 20-30+ years after the media hype first started.

And of course, support the young persons who have not lived with the AIDS virus for more than just a few years … who have dreams of achievement and success, equality, a life without harassment for their hiv-status, and the chance to be young-growing older with a sense of hope.

– Adam Donaldson Powell, World AIDS Day.

(oil painting “A Cutter’s Glow”, oil on canvas, 50×50 cm., Adam Donaldson Powell)

Good essay by an openly-lesbian politician: Bryt lydmuren med kunsten / Break the sound barrier with art, by Anette Trettebergstuen (Norway).

aidsawarenessribbon

Bryt lydmuren med kunsten, skrevet av Anette Trettebergstuen

Det å leve med HIV/Aids blir formidlet svært ensidig. Med skremsel, sorg og som noe som ekskluderer en fra selve livet.
Det er ikke sant. Man dør ikke av Aids, man dør med Aids. Og
i mellomtiden lever personer med HIV/Aids like forskjellige, mangfoldige, gode og dårlige liv som alle andre. Men HIV-­‐positive møter en risiko de fleste av oss aldri trenger frykte: det å bli ekskludert på grunn av fordommer mot sykdommen du lever med. Både i den offentlige og i den private sfæren. HIV-­‐positive må oppleve å bli satt i samme bås. Som dødssyke. Farlige. De opplever å måtte “være” sykdommen.
Bære dens navn som et mellomnavn sammen med sitt eget. “Den HIV-­‐ positive”.

Kunnskapen om HIV/Aids er fortsatt forsvinnende dårlig. Et stort forskningsprosjekt fra 2009 viste oss at svært mange tror viruset spres ved deling av tannbørste, eller ved å sitte på samme toalettskål. En for stor andel nordmenn svarte at de verken ønsker at en HIV-­‐positiv passer ungene deres eller det å ha en HIV-­‐positiv side ved side på samme arbeidsplass. Med middelaldersk kunnskap om smitte er det ikke rart fordommene gror videre. Av fordommer vokser det igjen stigma og aktiv og passiv diskriminering. Fra enkeltpersoner og myndigheter. Tilfeldig og systematisk. HIV-­‐positive nektes for eksempel innreise til en rekke stater. Kun fordi de er smittet. Resultatet av slik lovgivning er intet annet enn at folk fortsetter å reise, men uten medisiner, og velger bort åpenheten om diagnosen. Lovgivning basert på gamle og foreldede holdninger og kunnskap skaper ikke, men tvert imot hindrer, det FN peker på som det viktigste virkemiddelet i kampen mot smitten: åpenheten.
Norsk lovverk skaper også slike hindre.

HIV-­‐positives sexliv er fortsatt i realiteten kriminalisert i Norge. I 2013. Akkurat det er noe av det flaueste i norsk politikk, men enda verre: den såkalte HIV-­‐paragrafen i straffeloven er en av de direkte årsakene til at åpenheten taper, og at arbeidet mot smitte går trått. Men svært få vet. Og enda færre gjør opprør. Og lovene består.

Å leve livet igjennom med diagnosen blir derfor for svært mange ikke bare en vanskelig, men en hemmelig reise. Åpenhet koster for mye for mange. Koster venner, koster arbeid, koster familie, koster deltagelse i fellesskapet.

Samtidig bidrar nettopp fortellingene om hvor mye det koster, og hvor lite folk vet, fortellingene om alt de HIV-­‐positive risikerer selv til å gjøre livet vanskeligere, til å båssette, og stigmatisere. Ingen er like. Alle har forskjellige historier, og liv. Gode og dårlige. Med eller uten HIV/Aids.
Fordommenes verste fiende er kunnskap. Kunnskapen om det å leve med HIV/Aids må formidles mindre ensformig enn i dag.

Det er et stort behov for flere stemmer i debatten. For andre vinklinger, andre formidlingsformer. Som kan bryte lydmuren oftere! Slik at HIV/Aids-­‐ saken får den oppmerksomhet den fortjener i den offentlige debatten. Slik at flere kan forstå, lære, og kjenne hva dette handler om. Slik at politikere kan ta de rette valgene, basert på kunnskap og ikke ubegrunnet redsel.
Kunsten og kulturen som formidler av kunnskap åpner nye øyne, og den åpner øyne på nye måter. Fortellinger om det å leve med HIV/Aids trenger vi flere av. Som viser mangfoldet, oppturene, nedturene, de gode og de dårlige livene.

HIV/Aids formidles i dag mest med statistikk. Med tall. På smittede. Som går opp.
Jeg vil at det å leve med HIV/Aids skal formidles oftere gjennom kunsten. Lyrikken. For å åpne flere øyne, øke kunnskap, skape nærhet. Adams måte å bruke kunsten som middel til opplysning er nok en gang virkningsfullt, vakkert og svært kjærkomment.

Anette Trettebergstuen Stortingsrepresentant Arbeiderpartiet Oslo, Norge

ENGLISH TRANSLATION:

Break the sound barrier with art, written by Anette Trettebergstuen.

Information about living with HIV / AIDS is transmitted in a very one-sided way. With horror, grief, and as something that excludes one from life itself.
That is not true. One dies not from AIDS, one dies with AIDS. And in the meantime, the lives of persons living with HIV / AIDS are as different, as diverse, as good and bad as those of everyone else. But HIV – positive persons encounter a risk most of us never need to fear: to be excluded because of prejudice against the disease they live with. In both the public and the private sphere. HIV – positive persons are all put in the same box. As terminally ill. As dangerous persons. They thus feel the need to “be” the disease.
And carry its name as a middle name, together with one’s own. “The HIV-positive –“.

Knowledge about HIV / AIDS is still astonishingly poor. A large research study from 2009 showed us that many believe that the virus is spread by sharing toothbrushes, or by sitting on the same toilet bowl. A large percentage of Norwegians responded that they neither want an HIV – positive person to babysit or to have an HIV – positive person as a work colleague. With medieval knowledge regarding modes of infection, it is not strange that prejudices continue to grow. As prejudices grow, so do stigma and both active and passive discrimination. From individuals and governments. Randomly and systematically. HIV – positive persons are denied entry into a number of countries. Solely on the basis of infection. The result of such legislation is nothing more than that people continue to travel, but without medication, and avoid openness about their diagnosis. Legislation based upon old and outdated attitudes and knowledge does not create openness, but is rather a hinder, while the UN points out that the most important tool in the fight against infection is – in fact – openness.
Norwegian legislation also creates such obstacles.
HIV – positive persons’ sex lives are, in effect, still criminalized in Norway. In 2013. And that is one of the most embarrassing things in Norwegian politics, but even worse, the so-called HIV – article in the Criminal Code is one of the direct reasons for loss of openness, and that efforts to prevent infection go slowly. But very few people know. And even fewer rebel. And the laws still exist.

To live a life with this diagnosis is therefore not only difficult for many persons, but it is also a secret journey. Openness costs too much for many. Costs related to friends, to work, family, and participation in the community.
At the same time, stories about how much it costs, stories about how little people know, and stories about how much HIV – positive persons risk can also make life difficult, and can also contribute to classification and stigmatizing. No two persons are alike. We all have different stories and lives. Good and bad. With or without HIV / AIDS.

The worst enemy of prejudice is knowledge. The knowledge of how to live with HIV / AIDS needs to be conveyed in a less monotonous way than it is today.
There is a great need for more voices in the debate. For other angles, other forms of communication. Ones that can break the sound barrier more often! This so that the HIV/AIDS issue can get the attention it deserves in the public debate. This so that more people can understand, learn, and know what this is all about. This so politicians can make the right choices based upon knowledge rather than upon unfounded fears.
Art and culture that conveys knowledge opens new eyes, and opens eyes in new ways. We need more stories about living with HIV / AIDS. We need more stories that show the diversity, the ups, the downs, the good and the bad lives.
HIV / AIDS is today mostly illustrated with statistics. With numbers. Of infection. On the rise.

I wish that stories about living with HIV / AIDS be communicated more frequently through art. Through poetry. This in order to open more eyes, to increase knowledge, to create intimacy. Adam’s way of using art as a means to enlightenment is once again powerful, beautiful and most welcome.

Anette Trettebergstuen, Member of Parliament – Labour Party, Oslo, Norway.

(translated by editor)

(This essay is part of my new poetry book “JISEI — death poems and daily reflections by a person with AIDS”)

Read excerpts from the book HERE!

Adam Donaldson Powell: Essays on activism for a shift of consciousness

aidsawarenessribbon

Bryt lydmuren med kunsten, skrevet av Anette Trettebergstuen

Det å leve med HIV/Aids blir formidlet svært ensidig. Med skremsel, sorg og som noe som ekskluderer en fra selve livet.
Det er ikke sant. Man dør ikke av Aids, man dør med Aids. Og
i mellomtiden lever personer med HIV/Aids like forskjellige, mangfoldige, gode og dårlige liv som alle andre. Men HIV-­‐positive møter en risiko de fleste av oss aldri trenger frykte: det å bli ekskludert på grunn av fordommer mot sykdommen du lever med. Både i den offentlige og i den private sfæren. HIV-­‐positive må oppleve å bli satt i samme bås. Som dødssyke. Farlige. De opplever å måtte “være” sykdommen.
Bære dens navn som et mellomnavn sammen med sitt eget. “Den HIV-­‐ positive”.

Kunnskapen om HIV/Aids er fortsatt forsvinnende dårlig. Et stort forskningsprosjekt fra 2009 viste oss at svært mange tror viruset spres ved deling av tannbørste, eller ved…

View original post 1,215 more words

Shout-out to Per Eidspjeld: artist and aids activist.

In Norway, a National Commission has been considering legal reforms regarding prosecution for HIV exposure or transmission. The recent report from this Commission has fallen short of the goals set by Norwegian AIDS activists in their longterm fight to stop criminalization of transmission of the HIV/AIDS virus, and would – in the opinion of myself and many fellow activists – possibly rather serve to increase transmission because it could reduce openness amongst persons with the virus and scare others from testing themselves. The international reactions speak for themselves: we need to decriminalize, and not criminalize people living with the HIV/AIDS virus.

We need broad national debate before we move to implement a new law and penal code in Norway that would only serve to further stigma and fear. Such implementation is – in my opinion – a BIG step in the wrong direction. I also firmly believe that it would send a dangerous message to the world, and especially to homophobic countries that are looking to Norway and UNAIDS for political guidance. As a pathfinder in regards to equalization of human and civil rights for the LGBT community, Norway now risks blemishing much of the good it has done by sending a mixed message and creating possible conflict of interest, which can be difficult to come to reason with.

Persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs), friends and supporters of PLWHAs, gays, heterosexuals, politicians and human and civil rights activists alike need to work to counteract and void this law and any new law proposal aimed at criminalizing persons living with HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B., and hepatitis C, and which is also against UNAIDS recommendations.

People need to wake up! Together we can gain better control over the further spreading of HIV/AIDS, and initiate greater healing, equality and humanity in our society. Criminalization is clearly not the way to achieve this.

For more information about this read HERE and HERE.

Please share…

– Per Eidspjeld, Norway, international AIDS activist and visual artist.

per1

(photo courtesy of Per Eidspjeld)

BE SURE TO WATCH NUMB BY NUMBERS, by Per Eidspjeld

as well as the following Norwegian presentation of some of his work: