Thursday, 14 May 2020

Experience is not enough to teach you to understand things

Ignorance is a comfortable shelter
Experience is no guarantee of a quest for knowledge, or enlightened understanding of a situation. Nowhere is this more obvious than what I have seen of the broader gay community’s understanding of the core science and social issues pertaining to HIV/AIDS. [POZ]
Despite the public information and community activities promoted by many LGBTQ+ organisations to people, in places, and at events, the appalling ignorance of people to these issues is frightening.
Now, I do not intend to use this blog as an education aid, there is enough for people to search for and update themselves if so interested. However, I was reminded of a conversation I had years ago when someone aware of my situation treated me with disdain, disgust, and revulsion.
Quite inscrutable to understanding
It did not bother me; I have been a recipient of too many negative attitudes to be concerned about the chance encounters. What surprised me was when this same person years after the first brush informed me his parents have been HIV+ for over 20 years.
I held myself back from saying, how can you have this disease embedded in your family and then treat others badly? I could not understand how he until recently had not acquired knowledge or insight to interact with others with a sense of humanity. The absence of curiosity that belied the original conversation was baffling in the light of the shared experience.
It might well be that seeing his parents who he says are thriving today, on their antiretroviral (ARV) medications and in rude health, there were times in the past when they were poorly and ill, that witnessing those times had mentally scarred him. I did not probe any further, I was just weakened by the thought that experience is no impetus for understanding the ‘how is’ or ‘why is’ of anything.
Mind your language
There needs to be something else, an ingredient of curiosity and determination to learn and appreciate things. There are some many things to understand, the vagaries of prevention (PrEP), exposure (PEP), testing, viral load, CD4 counts, and social campaigns on U=U.
Fundamentally, there is also the matter of language and stigma, people with HIV are not dirty and conversely, not knowing your status if you are sexually active does not make you clean. Whatever your preferences, the greatest thing you can do for human dignity is to treat everyone with consideration, courtesy, and respect. Education is a good thing, with your learning, seek to understand the seemingly difficult and taboo things. [Counselling Today]
Courtesy of the Stigma Project.

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