Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye…

This week I heard from a friend the horrible news that her daughter had HIV.  Even though it’s 30 years later the diagnosis still sounds like a death knell, still gives me shivers.  Her daughter is young, early 20’s.  She trusted someone she loved and shouldn’t have.

I’ve moved between rage, anger and sadness this week as I think of this young woman.  The young man who infected her is dead of AIDS, already.  He left it untreated, or something.  Belinda* got herself tested about two years ago after she found out that he had been lying to her, but it was negative so she thought she was safe.  He had not been faithful.  Obviously.  He had not been faithful to her with men he picked up from Craigslist.  Many men.  For years.  He’d led her to think he was still pondering what way he would eventually go, homosexual, bi or straight.  She believed him. In the meantime, he would be her boyfriend.

Belinda made any number of classic young woman mistakes.  But that’s neither here nor there now.  It’s the aftermath of the breakup that has me angry.  Really frothingly angry.

This young man had friends in common with Belinda.  The young man’s parents knew Belinda very well, after all she had been in and out of their home with their son AS HIS GIRLFRIEND for 3 years before they finally broke up.

All these people knew both the young man and Belinda, yet not one of them thought to tell Belinda that her ex-boyfriend with whom she’d had sex was now dying of AIDS.  Not even the parents.

It is against the parents of that now dead boy that my anger is fully formed.  THEY are the ones who were grown ups here.  How could they watch their son die of the effects of untreated HIV when they knew it was highly likely that Belinda also had HIV?  What in the hell were they playing at?  No excuses, no reasons, no nothing can possibly explain how deeply they failed at being humans and how deeply they failed a young woman who counted them as friends.

Harsh?  Well, YEAH!  I get it, their son is dead.  I appreciate the depth of despair that could take someone, I really do.  But at some point in the past two years could they not have made one damn phone call?  One.  Just the one.  It didn’t have to be long, heck, it didn’t even have to be polite.  Just for crying out loud, give Belinda a chance to start treatment!   How could anyone who lived through the 80’s not have a clue that the sooner you get diagnosed and start treatments the better.  Oh, and hey, what about if Belinda had been planning on getting pregnant?  Getting married?  What if she got a tattoo?  I really am struggling with anger over their abjectly selfish response.

I’m angry.  Maybe next week I’ll get sadder.  Belinda is getting the medical attention she needs, her family is gathering behind her, helping her to be strong.  I’m glad she has them.  I’m glad she has the hope that maybe, just maybe there might be a cure soon, like within 20 years and that thanks to good drugs and more knowledge, she will probably live that long.

We still don’t know why that young man died so quickly, that is rather worrisome.

The video and song at the top of this post are from a long ago project meant to raise money for AIDS research.  Annie’s contribution was my favorite.

I need to go pray now.

*Name changed.

I originally had 20 years later in the first paragraph.  OMG.  It has been so very much longer than that.  I remember when the first rumblings of what would become all the coverage of AIDS and HIV.  I remember all of that.

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3 Responses to Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye…

  1. Anonymous says:

    I remember, too…and I’m praying for your friend’s daughter. So sad and SO hard to understand.

  2. Brandi says:

    First and foremost, Belinda will be in my prayers.

    In defense of the parents, is it possible that they thought Belinda knew? Maybe their son told them she knew? Maybe he said they had always practiced safe sex? I know that if I were in their shoes, between the grief of losing a son and not wanting to think that that son could have done something like that, I might not think about contacting former girlfriends. I probably would have asked him if he could have infected others, and probably would have believed what he said. Just as you can’t believe they could be so selfish as to not tell her, what parent could believe that their child would be so selfish as to not alert someone that they might have a deadly disease?

    Do they know the details as to how he contracted it? Maybe they don’t. Maybe he lied to them as well. Maybe he even told them he contracted it from Belinda.

    I just have to think that they could not possibly be so selfish as to deliberately not tell her.

    Also, I feel some anger toward the clinic that tested her two years ago. It’s standard practice to let all test-ees know that a negative result may be false for up to 5 years, and that they should be re-tested every 6 months to a year for 5 years. So, either they dropped the ball or she ignored their medical advice.

    And I’ve debated writing this because I know you’re upset, and PLEASE do not think that I’m trying to diminish what a horrible thing it was that he did to her–it was HORRIBLE, but why was she not protecting herself? At some point we all have to take responsibility for our own actions. She had unprotected sex with someone. It’s not like he stuck a dirty syringe in her while she slept. She was a willing participant in risky behavior, and unfortunately she’s paying the ultimate price for that. It’s awful and terrible, but the very worst part is that it could have been prevented.

  3. vivianlouise says:

    Brandi, I agree – she should never have had unprotected sex with him. That was what I meant about classic young woman mistakes. I have some words for her and her lack of wisdom about having any sex at all much less unprotected sex with a guy she knew was leaning homosexual. She was thoughtless. From what she’s said, she didn’t have any idea he was also having unprotected sex with countless strangers. I’m thinking she thought they were both virgins. Still a stupid thing to do.

    I have no idea who tested her, if they even told her she should get retested, if she ignored it. I don’t know. Yeah, again, highly irritating. There were lots of failures here. Back in the day, doctors and clinics used to demand your list of former partners to notify them about your positive status. The kid should totally have told Belinda, he’s a complete cad for not telling her.

    I hear what you are saying about the parents. I haven’t changed my mind. To me it’s lame parenting to just believe your kid, to believe whatever they say. ESPECIALLY on something like this. If he lied to them about telling her, why didn’t they ever call to find out how she is? I’m just not getting the silence. Maybe I’m just more cynical about humans in general and think blindly believing your kid in a situation like this is irresponsible. So harsh, I know.

    I really do get not wanting to believe your child could do something awful. Okay. But really? To never check up? Not even once?

    I am just finding it incredible that not one damned person could make a call.

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