Sunday, March 1, 2009

HIV+ Aussie Kids

Listened to a great interview this morning on JOY 94.9 fm with a young woman who had grown up HIV positive from birth.
We don't generally acknowledge kids with HIV in Oz; as a whole the public can't cope with this hideous disease having a face - in kids' cases, such a young face - and eyes we don't have the stomach to meet.

This young lady made a sad statement of fact that gave me pause ;
"This is the first generation of HIV positive kids to live beyond the age of 25 in Australia".

Think about what that 1 sentence means.

It means the kids here in Oz have had a damn short life expectancy - and but for the grace of God it could have been any one of our kids.
It means the drugs did not/were not working as well for the majority of kids as their adult counter-parts.
It means the media and various govt depts have been able to sweep HIV+ kids out of sight, out of mind.
It means the resources and support systems weren't in place for most of these kids.
It means they now have to build the resources and support systems because these kids are no longer kids but adults who have survived not only a harsh disease, society shunning them and the savage side effects of the medications - they've managed to survive the apathetic disinterest of govts, community groups and the mainstream media.

It also meant this young lady - and goodness knows how many thousands of others - have been able to be discriminated against due to a disease they had no control over contracting in the first place.
As long as HIV/AIDS is portrayed as "the gay disease", something dirty and shameful that "nice" people don't even discuss in "nice" homes, discrimination in every form will run rife.
Because no parent wants their child to go through the public humiliation the van Grafhorst family were subjected to, via the media.
Remember little Eve van Grafhorst?
Remember the fuss we Aussies kicked up over a little girl attending kindergarten?
Surely you must be bursting with pride over the way we managed to run the whole family, not only out of town, but out of the whole country?
No, I wasn't a part of that disgusting campaign by pig-ignorant parents but as long as someone, somewhere in Australia is behaving like this, then we're all tarred with the same filthy brush.


  1. Great post. I remember when little Eve came to live here in NZ. Instantly welcomed and made a heroine by our media. That said, I think prejudice based on mortal and irrational fears are everywhere, and especially when it comes to HIV. It's sad that it happens, it's sad that it happened in your country, Jayne, but it could have happened anywhere, given the right amount of publicity beat-up about it.

  2. I remember doing an essay on her in High School. It was so sad the way she was treated. That said though, my friends neice is severely handicapped and she has been banned from 2 schools because she has "uncontrollable bodily spasms that could injure an unsuspecting person or persons should they be unaware of her condition" And these are specialist schools for the Handicapped! It is a rather sad society we live in.

  3. Yeah, sadly too much media hype still feeds the animals out there, Lisa.
    Things *might* be a bit better since then.

    Yep, I know what you're saying.
    Those who should know better go that extra mile to discriminate against those weaker than themselves.
    Like a really ugly pecking order.

  4. Praise the goddess that New Zealand could offer that little girl a home for her remaining years. There's a few more things that Aussies need to say sorry for.

  5. Exactly; the media say "jump" and the public ask "how high?"

  6. I remember little Eve very well. She and I were born just a few months apart, which means were she still alive she'd be approaching her 27th birthday.

    Did you see the 60 Minutes retrospective recently that showed her and Mike Munro kissing? God bless that man for confronting such prejudices.