I am 28. White. A Female. And a former Peace Corps Volunteer. I am HIV Positive. This is my story of how a few months, a few people, and a few events in Zambia changed me and my life forever. This is the story of how I contracted HIV and brought my Peace Corps Journey to a crashing halt... and how I am working now to pick up and put back together the pieces of my life as a newly diagnosed person living with HIV. This was not the journey I had originally planned... my path has traumatically and dramatically changed... but it is the one I am on now. There is no going back. There is only forward. I welcome you to follow along with me as I attempt to explore this new life ahead of me, whether you are someone from the Peace Corps community, or someone living with HIV. I welcome your comments, questions, suggestions, and opinions. Let us go forward together. To start from the beginning, click here He Gave Me More Than A Bracelet.

Friday, June 14, 2013

A Couple AIDS Jokes

A friend of mine e-mailed me the other day in response to my "Awkward Magic Johnson moment". He proceeded to tell me of one of his own awkward moments recently. In a college class, someone in a role of authority decided to tell a couple jokes...

"How do you give CPR to an AIDS patient?"  He started stomping on an imaginary person on the ground with his foot, and blowing in the air from a standing position.

"The AIDS diet is pancakes because they can be slid under a closed door."

This friend of mine said that in response to each joke,  "A room full of my friends cheered and applauded. Again riotous laughter from my peers."

I do not share these jokes with you so that you can go out and use them in your own social circles. I share them in order to call attention to some of the mean and hurtful things that can be and are being said. Can you imagine being an HIV+ person sitting in a college class, where the teacher and students (who you expect to be educated and have a little bit of class) are jointly making these kinds of jokes and remarks? Yeah, of course they don't know that you are sitting there and have HIV. They don't know that it may be personally hurtful to you. But that's the point! They don't know! None of us can know for sure who in our company may be HIV+, or may have a family member or close friend who is HIV+ . So, watch what you say! It is just ignorant and in poor taste.


  1. Last year I had a co-worker tell me she refused to eat at a restaurant because she knew through a friend of a friend that one of the cooks was HIV+ (well, she said he had "AIDS" -- she didn't know the difference). I was baffled, and couldn't help but get angry with her. She was in her mid-twenties... I remember learning about this stuff in middle school. You most certainly cannot get HIV through an enchilada.

    Unfortunately, I think I berated and insulted her intelligence and she (naturally) shut me out. Despite the fact that it illustrates almost unimaginable ignorance, in the future I will try to take a more compassionate approach to correcting people.

  2. For many years I've been pretty sarcastic and politically incorrect. I must admit that more than one time I made jokes about human aspects/conditions.
    Being recently diagnosed with HIV I've realized (in a shock) that we get comfortable joking about things that we believe can't impact us or the people we love. Well, I've painfully learned that 1) some of these things can in fact impact us and 2) even if they don't, they impact other people, and their suffering is not a laughing matter.

    As usual, look forward to more of your posts, for some reason reading them helps.

  3. Wow. Those are terrible. Especially since they display the ignorance relating to HIV (and modern medicine) of the joker. For example, the latest CPR algorithms make it clear that the most important aspect is compression, and not breaths. During CPR, if an ambu-bag isn't available, it is completely safe (and fine) to deliver only compressions and not to do mouth-to-mouth. And, frankly, I'd be more worried about mouth-to-mouth when someone has a tummy bug.
    And the second joke is even worse. Because by now everyone should know that it is not airborne...
    I've never been in the company of AIDS-jokes, but maybe that is because in my country, HIV is SO prevalent that, when in a group of people, you are probably in the company of someone who has HIV, whether they know it or not.
    But I'm sorry that people have to deal with such jokes. It is awful.