This summer I've been revising my Women and Health course. I taught it for the first time last year and while I was pretty pleased with it, I also knew there were things missing. The biggest was a discussion of Women and HIV/AIDS. I had just heard Stephen Lewis on the CBC and bought his book Race Against Time thinking I could use part of it in the class.
I read it in two days and was completely overwhelmed, and he was only writing about Africa. Then the AIDS conference came to Toronto and I've been following the coverage. As I did, I started to get mad.
I'm mad at how my stupid Prime Minister didn't attend the conference and address the 25,000 scientists, activists, health care workers and HIV positive people who attended. Who decided that the conference was "too political" and chose not to listen or help (sure he said money would come after the news cycle was over but that's pretty hollow--Canadian governments have promised money before and haven't come through--and that way he can avoid (more) criticism.
I'm mad at other leaders of rich western countries who have promised money and have not actually provided the funds. Or, like George Bush, who only give money to abstinence-based programs which completely fail to understand the gender inequalities which underlie rape, sex-work, sex in exchange for security and that marriage is a risk factor for HIV for many women. Their husbands cheat and they cannot refuse sex or insist on condoms.
I'm mad that in 25 years the vast majority of people do not recognize how AIDS disproportionately affect the poor and marginalized and how gender and race inequalities exacerbate the issue. That those with AIDS are stigmatized for their behaviour, and how entire groups of people are treated like children who cannot make their own decisions and who need neo-colonial solutions while children are completely neglected.
Fuck, I'm so angry and overwhelmed that I don't even know what to do. This is not just a unit in a course, it should be a course in itself. In the end I felt that I didn't have enough of a handle on the topic to teach it this term, but I'm trying to do it for the Winter session.
I've come to realize that AIDS really is the primary Global concern. As they said in at the AIDS Conference, it really is time to deliver. I encourage you to read Stephen Lewis' book, do some research, (this is a good place to start) and write to your governments to tell them that you want them to make AIDS prevention and treatment a priority in your country, and part of their international development budget.