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.
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.