# HIV HEROES

VANGARDIST

28

sexual revolution, fuck around like rabbits

for about two decades and then

bam! This stupid virus decides to jump

from chimpanzees to us and ends the

party. And before you know it, all the

complexes we thought long gone are

back with a vengeance because one

thing became clear pretty quickly: HIV

is mainly contracted through sex—and

not the kind you have with just one

partner your whole life. If we follow the

logic of patriarchal morality, HIV/AIDS

can be seen as a stigma: the disease

as a mark, a badge of shame and—in

a sense—punishment for a promiscuous

lifestyle. As in: “If you had been a

good boy and lived by the established

bourgeois rules, this would not have

happened to you.” Consequently,

from a patriarchal viewpoint, the disease

simply has to be a manifestation

of God’s wrath; also in a more figurative,

secular sense, because after all,

“God” is nothing other than society’s

personified order.

The shadows of the past

This, of course, explains the initial stigmatization

of HIV as the “gay plague”.

The discrimination against homosexuality

by the conservative mainstream

is mainly rooted in the fact that, for

its members, the gay lifestyle represents

the essence of promiscuity and,

as such, a constant threat to traditional

male rule. As a paradoxical side-effect

of this, nowadays it’s even harder for

many heterosexuals to deal with the

social dimensions of this disease than it

is for homosexuals, since the latter had

to learn long ago how to live outside

the patriarchal mainstream. Obviously

we’ve left the 19th century behind and

not all of us see HIV as a god-inflicted

punishment. Yet a certain echo of this

set of values still rings through modern

Western society though, whispering

that it’s your own fault if you contract

the virus. And since, culturally, we’re

still miles away from actually being able

to openly talk about any form of sexuality,

the whole HIV topic still carries

the stigma of something “dirty” that

no one wants to talk about—because

we still haven’t fully liberated ourselves

from some ancient set of moral values.

HIV as a social gauge

We live in 2015 and it’s fair to say that

our Western societies are more or

less on the right track when it comes

to shedding the patriarchal tradition.

Having said that, we’re still a far cry

from shedding it completely.

At least in those parts of the world

blessed by a certain standard of

wealth, HIV/AIDS has become medically

manageable and has developed

from a certain death sentence into

more of a chronic disease. In turn, this

has led to the widespread idea that

it’s something that no longer needs

to be talked about. In fact, most of us

are glad that this somehow disreputable

topic is finally off the table, but

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