Gay activist and popular social media personality Omer Nahmany writes on World AIDS Day about acceptance of people with HIV, and how the disease has become a chronic disease- just like psoriasis.
After much thought, I decided to share something a little personal with you: I have psoriasis.
For those who do not know, psoriasis is a chronic skin disease, probably genetic, not contagious, which causes some skin cells to divide faster than normal. Seven per cent of the world population has it. It looks like wounds, not very attractive, and it can be on any part of the body. For me it’s on my hands and feet. The treatment for this disease is light radiation (special tanning bed) or pills or injections, but this disease has no cure and I’m going to have it for the rest of my life.
At the beginning, when the disease first exploded, it was really scary, but I’ve learned to live with it, and I’ve now developed a regular lecture for whenever people ask me ‘Why do you have burns on your legs?’.
The reason I’m telling you this is because today is World AIDS Day. HIV (AIDS is the outbreak of the virus if it is not treated) is a chronic disease that, if treated well, is not contagious and will accompany the carrier for the rest of his life. There is no cure for it but there are treatments that help carriers live full and healthy lives. HIV is infectious, while psoriasis is a genetic disease, but you can become infected with HIV rather easily and it can happen to anyone. Unfortunately, unlike psoriasis, AIDS has become much more than just a disease- it has become a symbol.
AIDS symbolized and still symbolizes everything that is wrong, repulsive and sick. With the generous help of homophobes in the 80s who said that AIDS is “God’s Punishment for gays”, this disease has become a mark of Cain, and a source of shame and prejudice, even within the gay community.
What is most sad to me is that in the past straight people used AIDS to mark and cast out the entire gay community, and nowadays the community itself has cast out HIV carriers themselves rather than embracing them.
The shame that carriers live with is not only sad, but also deadly. An untreated HIV positive person can get the flu and die while a patient who carries the disease and gets proper treatment lives a full life and can’t infect others. The shame not only kills the carriers but also causes more people to become infected.
This symbol, AIDS, must disappear from the world.
This is only a chronic disease, like psoriasis, and treatment for it is simple and easy- mostly swallowing a pill once a day.
The ignorance and prejudice against HIV+ people, however, is the real disease. And unfortunately, there is no pill that can be taken once a day that handles ignorance and stupidity.