Imagine a world where every gay man takes a pill just because he is having gay sex, with the aim to prevent HIV infection. This is what is being proposed by the health authorities in the USA.
HIV is not going away. New infections amongst gay men show no sign of letting up. In the United States this certainly means more business for insurance companies and big pharma (as would every gay man taking preventative medicine), but if this were to become policy in the UK presumably it would mean more drain on overstretched NHS resources. Can we expect the rest of the population to accept and support this? Or would this lead to a backlash against gays?
Taking tablets every day for life is something I have got used to. I began anti-retroviral therapy in 1998. The first drug regime I took to suppress the HIV involved taking several tablets three times a day. There were various side effects, the worst of which was chronic diarrhoea. Eventually I changed to a simpler regime – kaletra monotherapy. After some years on this I wound up in hospital with seriously congested arteries, requiring a triple heart bypass operation. I am now on a third pill regime – this one affects some enzyme in my body and give me yellow eyes, so it looks like I have jaundice. Pill taking is not easy – not only for the side effects, but also for the pressure of remembering to take them every day, with the ever present threat of natural resistance to them developing if we miss doses.
Doctors prescribe anti hiv meds as soon as a patient’s cd4 count drops below a certain level. The emphasis is on avoiding illness – I suppose treating us for infections can cost even more to the taxpayer than the prophylactic drugs. The fact that quite a number of men who became positive in the 1980s did not need to start taking pills for up to two decades is quietly bypassed. Not everyone gets sick quickly, and certainly the virus affects us in different ways. But despite their toxicity, hib pills seem to be pushed on people – it is perfectly understandable too why we would want to avoid the nasty infections – pcp, cmv, ks etc – that were the hallmarks of encroaching AIDS. And so we stay firmly rooted in a paradigm that says illness and death are failures, and hang on to the normal trappings of life as best we can.
I had to let go of life – for a few years in the late 90s I had full blown aids and was expected to die. I found myself facing my mortality and forming a relationship with whatever lies beyond the mortal veil. This however was not a ‘failure’ – this was an awefilled revelation.
Facing death in my early 30s I experienced what I believe to be a rapid acceleration of the human condition – I jumped on the evolutionary train – encountering the realisation that evolution is now happening in the mind – in our human understanding of who we are and what life is about: evolution and growth is a choice now, one each of us has the chance to make. If we do not make it, it seems illness and crisis come into our lives as opportunities to open our eyes to bigger pictures of who we are and what we are here for.
What I discovered was – humanity is extremely close to an edge, a turning point and a birthing point. We have developed culture, science, technology to a point where we are becoming a global tribe and we are poised to take a huge leap in understanding about who we are. I say this because that is what happened to me. Veils fell away and my inner senses opened up, revealing a multiverse of intricate connected energies. At first I became hungry for knowledge and dived into studying the world’s religions and mystical teachings. This moved me to shift away from the rational belief that we are physical forms that have evolved into a state of conscious awareness, seeing it instead the other way around – that we are conscious beings who have evolved physical forms in order to express ourselves. This paradigm shift changes everything. At the root of all spiritual teachings I saw there is a sense of unity – that all existence comes from a divine conscious source, whose nature is love. If we raise our own vibrations into alignment with the heart, with love and compassion, and overcome conflict, competition, greed and selfishness, we bring ourselves into union with the divine, discovering that holy spark within us that gives rise to who we are.
Turning within is the crucial factor here. Life on earth has become so very stimulating, so full of distractions and dilemmas, that the internal journey of self-discovery is chosen only by a few. It is easy to see that human life is out of balance – over focussed on external issues and short of internal values such as wisdom, compassion and understanding.
The approach to HIV and AIDS shows this clearly. We talk about prevention, treatments, vaccines. Vast resources are poured into finding physical solutions to what are perceived as physical problems. Yet HIV is really more than that – it affects us on mental, emotional and spiritual levels as well as physical, and will never be fully understood, or eradicated, until it is addressed on all these levels. The health authorities and AIDS campaigners are not doing this however. But actually it is not really up to them – evolution into higher evolved states of awareness has to be chosen by each of us individually. I took the ride and found that there is a vast multidimensional reality waiting for us to open our eyes, minds and hearts in order to be welcomed into it. Unless we turn inside, explore who we are and face our own destruction through disease and death – and drop the fear of those – we cannot enter into this higher order of being. AIDS in my book = Accelerated Individual Discovery of Self, and is exactly what humanity needs from us scouts of consciousness living on the edge of evolution – but vast resources are being poured into helping us avoid this journey, and keeping us within the normal framework of careers and relationships: this is the dilemma of AIDS – a crisis that has the potential to free humanity from millennia of ignorance and questioning is instead being used to keep us well and truly asleep to who and what we really are as living conscious beings on this amazing planet.
If we wish to break through the fog, we better find our own ways to do so.