Generation Gap


I think there is a fine line between outreach and shrill screeching.  I acknowledge that there probably is a generational gap in methodology between “those that came before” and “generation Y” when it comes to HIV advocacy.  Young people (those under 30) with HIV did not grow up with the imagery and horror that was the early days of HIV.  Older people perhaps do not understand how social media can be an important tool in advocacy.

But to point fingers at one way or the other and then to say, “my way is the right way, so back off old man!” is disingenuous and insulting.  Comparing one’s memories of the early days of HIV/AIDS to the Holocaust is indeed a good analogy.  I can definitely see the comparisons; both have wholesale slaughter at its core.  Holocaust victims and early HIV/AIDS victims were both ignored and invisible by the public at large, and nobody raised their hand to say, “What is happening here to these people is wrong!”

But then to make a leap to say one group’s memories are invalid because you do not have those same memories is a fallacy that should not go unquestioned.  There is a little thing called history, which one of it’s virtues is that we can actually learn from it so that the same mistakes are not made, and so that life goes on in a better way.  When someone from an older generation tries to teach you or tell you something, it seems a bit immature to dismiss what he or she have to say.  Lessons learned from the past are not obsessions just because those lessons are trying to be taught.

Why must the younger generation have to relearn the same lessons again and again?  Part of the integral parts of humanity is to learn from the past, to share knowledge, and to forge a better tomorrow out of the lessons from yesterday.

I find it both fascinating and yet tragic that from 1996 (the start of HIV medicinal therapies) through the year 2000, there was actually a decline in new HIV infections.  The advocacy of the early days began to bear fruit; lessons were learned about how HIV was and was not transmitted, new medications dropped the viral load in a person’s blood and thus made them not as infectious.

But then from the year 2000 hit and new HIV cases began to rise again.  Why?  Well, if you were born in 1985 for example, then one would be about 15 years old in the year 2000.  Puberty for these people would just be kicking in right about then.  The year 2000 began to see how a new generation began to interact with HIV, without the memories and knowledge of the previous generation.  Or, I should say, they knew the dangers and transmission routes of HIV but then allowed hormones to trump intelligence.

To err is human, to forgive divine.  Everyone makes mistakes, and that is indeed part of being human.  Nobody is a robot (well, except for actual robots) and thus we all end up in situations and engage in activities that we should not be in.  That is part of the human experience.  That is also what reckless means; per Miriam-Webster reckless is defined  “marked by lack of proper caution, careless of consequences”.  One should not be offended for being called reckless if indeed reckless is exactly what one was.  But that word is an adjective, not a judgment.  What is not forgivable is to be continually reckless, to not learn from one’s recklessness, that is where the offensiveness of one’s actions comes into play.  I believe one must close their mouth more often and open up one’s ears, you might actually learn something.


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