|Time magazine, 1990|
When I told my sister some years back, who is a highly educated school teacher in Sydney, I had to explain to her that this sort of thing doesn't happen anymore. That HIV isn't a death sentence like it was. Indeed, if I'd been diagnosed 40 years ago, ten years later I may very well have been the man in the picture. In fact this year it will be ten years since my infection date, and ten years is about all they give you without modern treatments.
Actually in some parts of the world I guess this sort of thing still does happen. Africa has been hugely hit by HIV, most of them poor countries who couldn't afford the meds to treat the HIV virus. Foreign aid has helped.
However in places like Australia, the AIDS condition is such a rarity now that it's no longer considered a public health problem. Myself I've never had an AIDS related illness; never had AIDS. If you take the meds it stops the HIV virus, simple as that. Most people on the meds the HIV viral load is so low in their body that it's undetectable by today's tests. Studies have proved that being undetectable makes it impossible to pass on the virus in normal sexual circumstances.
So why has the stigma continued? Stigma remains one of the biggest problems in eradicating HIV through treatment and education.