Thursday, 2 June 2011

HIV and the Red Ribbon

As I travelled in to downtown San Francisco from the airport yesterday, I was struck by the sight of a giant Red Ribbon installed on Twin Peaks. I'd read about it in last week's Bay Area Reporter before I flew out, but it's much more impressive than the photo alone suggests. It comes as we mark 30 years since the HIV virus was documented. I was 31 back in April, so for me, the virus has been a backdrop for the total of my sexual life, as it has for so many people today. The idea of a time before AIDS, and with the commensurate different social and legal responses to health, promiscuity and gay/queer identities and masculinities seems increasingly hard to conceptualise, but understandably influences much of the writing of my generation of young academic scholars.

The BBC website carries an excellent reflective piece today which you can view here. The new issue of Bay Area Reporter has a stack of articles exploring the milestone. It begins with a moving, informative and personal piece offering some context. There's also an AIDS timeline, seen primarily from a San Francisco perspective; a piece on the search for a cure (I remain of the view condoms will never work, and the only solution is a vaccine with 'standard' inoculations - as Brits are with a host of other illnesses); there's also a slightly preachy 'right on' young people's bit, and a rather unsurprising piece on a condom company targeting gay men.

In a slightly ironic clash of timings, the San Francisco bareback porn company Treasure Island Media also launched 'The Big One' annual sale (NSFW) - your own unique way to celebrate 30 years of AIDS - and no doubt something to have Larry Kramer spinning.

I'll be touching on this point in my paper on Saturday, here at the Law and Society Annual Conference.

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