Category Archives: Opinion Piece

Rumination of the Day (12th December 2016)

FACEBOOK NEWS

 So what riveting and biased news has Facebook passed onto me in the last few weeks? Well, evidently some very bad muslims were kicking down Australian, New Zealand & British war graves…video evidence available to view. However, it’s bullshit, and never happened. Then there was the hue and cry over the guy punching out the kangaroo that attached both his dog, and him. Again, despite the impromptu nature of the attack, we have very clear and steady video of the incident. The general consensus, except from those who live their lives in bullshit land, is..fake! Then we have a whole string of memes telling people that I am going to wear my poppy (for Renembeance Day) despite being told I shouldn’t…except…wellll…nobody said you can’t! Another bullshit rumour trying to make muslims look bad. Then only a couple of days ago, a photo of a donut with odd writing as a decoration, and an outraged rant that muslims were now using donuts sold in schools to promote their dirty and evil causes. The writing on the donut is, in fact, elvish ie of no particular type. Don’t even start me on the ignoramuses that spout rubbish about halal certification, and Sharia law – I hate to disappoint you, but it won’t be introduced here. Now, of course, it’s Christmas – so we have all the memes demanding that it be called Christmas, and not a “holiday”.  Nobody has insisted on it NOT being called Christmas, nor called for a ban on Santa, lights, decoration or trees. I’d love to know where this all comes from, and though I call it Christnas from habit, to me it is just a holiday. You see, there is this particular “Christ” word in Christmas, and as an Atheist, I find that a bit off-putting. But all the same, I don’t see why “Christmas” or “holiday” is an issue. If you want to call it either one, or the other, then…go for it! Only anal retentives are going to say anything.

What concerns me most about most of this misinformation is the anti-Muslim slant of it all, making muslims seem like the bad guys who want to move here – or elsewhere – and destroy our culture. There is something nasty and evil about it. Opinion-creation via musinformation is just wrong.

I watched a documentary on Australian architect Glenn Mercutt only a week ago. Glenn was in the process of building a mosque here in Australia. During the building process, Glenn!0’s son, who had an incurable illness, took a turn for the worst, and was close to death. Glenn was deeply touched when the muslim community he was building the mosque for included his son in their prayers –  despite neither he, nor his son – being of the Islamic faith. My immediate thought was…why is nobody posting something positive like that! 

As much as I love social media, there is so much garbage & lies spread throughout my feed. People are so lazy now that they don’t bother to research if something is true or not – it’s just all taken at face value.

Next time you share a meme of this nature, do us all a favour…and don’t!

Tim Aldernan (2016)

Rumination of the Day (6th December 2016

56 NAMES FOR SUGAR

I don’t hate sugar per se, but I do hate how it is snuck into just about everything we eat. It is a highly addictive product, despite the sugar industry denying it – no shock there! The only way you can avoid sugar is to not shop in the centre of your supermarket! The less processed foods you eat, and the more you prepare yourself, the healthier you will be. Sure, you do go through withdrawal, and everything fresh & healthy tastes “wrong” for a while, but that passes, and once you adapt, it is hard to go back. I get posts in my feed of things like Malteser desserts, and Tim Tam’s and the such like – and all it does is put my teeth on edge when I think about how sweet they would be. 

When I did Nutrition as part of my Certificate III in Fitness, the tutor asked the class, during a lesson on sugar, what one thing would the body burn first to give you a burst of energy. I was the only one in the class who said…sugar! The human body is intrinsically lazy, and hares to expend energy to run itself, so it looks for the easy way out. Given the choice between sugar, and fat as an energy source – sugar wins because it is easier to burn. However, if you don’t burn it off, it stores it to burn later…thus you get fat.

The sugar industry itself is responsible for a multitude of misinformation, dishonest advertising, and self-funded health reports relling us sugar is not a baddie! It is all very underhanded, and badically caters to the lazy cook, and those who really just don’t care!

There is no harm in some sugar! Have an occasional slice of cake, or biscuit, or a dessert…just don’t do it daily. 

Barley malt
Dehydrated cane juice

Golden sugar

Molasses

Barbados sugar

Demerara sugar

Golden syrup 

Muscovado

Beet sugar

Dextran

Grape sugar

Panocha

Brown sugar

Dextrose

High fructose corn syrup

Powdered sugar

Buttered syrup

Diastatic malt

Honey

Raw sugar

Cane juice

Diatase

Icing sugar

Refiner’s syrup

Cane sugar

Ethyl maltol

Invert sugar

Rice syrup

Caramel

Free flowing brown sugars

Lactose

Sorbitol

Corn syrup

Fructose

Malt

Sorghum syrup

Corn syrup solids

Fruit juice

Maltodextrin

Sucrose

Confectioner’s sugar

Fruit juice concentrate

Maltose

Sugar (granulated)

Carob syrup

Galactose

Malt syrup

Treacle

Castor sugar

Glucose

Mannitol 

Terpinado sugar

Date sugar

Glucose solids

Maple syrup

Yellow sugar

Some of these you will recognize as sugar, but what about ethyl maltol and maltose? Manufacturers are sneaking these types of sugar into everyday products without the consumer knowing what they are eating or drinking. Even the most health-conscious of us consumes processed foods, even if just on the odd occasion. However if we don’t know what these sugars are called, and what they can do to our bodies, how can we make informed decisions? Is the answer to simply avoid processed foods altogether, or are we simply misunderstanding sugar and the effect it has on us?

Tim Alderman (2016)

Rumination of the Day (2nd December 2016)

WORLD AIDS DAY

It’s the day after WAD, and as usual, I’m ruminating! For many years now I have been looking at how I now view HIV/AIDS – through the lense of objectivity. Emotion only muddles the issue, and history has a trail of misinformation, mixed objectives, venom and misunderstanding! 

Even recently I have encountered those who, for reasons known only to themselves, have never been able to move on! The hate is still alive, the dragons still circling. I could be one of these, who still feel that the experiences of the 80s & 90s are still alive, an uncompromising hard line that leaves me stranded in a time that has passed by. Fuck knows there is a lot in my past that I have never fully moved on from – family business that could, at any time in the past, have left me sitting in a gutter, needle dangling…or in a bar, in an alcoholic stupor – and fuck knows I flew very close to the latter at one stage! More so than many, I have reason enough to be bitter, to be a victim. My experience with AIDS has left me close to blind, and there are many who would agree that that is reason enough. But, as in my latter teens, with full knowledge of my families dysfunctionality, living with a solitary knowledge of my younger brothers horrendous death, of violence and unspoken secrets, of my being gay, I made a quiet vow to myself that I was not going to let it get the better of me, to smother me, to stop me being who I would be! So to with AIDS – my survival alone was an unexpected surprise – and blindness! To buckke under, to attribute blame, to become a victim, to allow it to hold me back, swallow me up, would be saying…I do not have the strength for this, the self-empowerment whereby I would become someone who even I didn’t recognise! 

To move on, one has to acknowledge that the past is just that – the past! Yes, what happened was dreadful – the hatred, the discrimination, the accusations, the blame, the misinformation, the segregation, the fear! We need to acknowledge – 40 years along now – that we were all scared shitless. Straight, gay, male, female, religious, non-religious, politicians, doctors, journalists, activists…ad infinitum…were all scared. Perhaps not since the scourges of the Black Death have we encountered something we all knew absolutely nothing about – not even those who, perhaps, should have known! And what does human nature do when it is faced with an unknown that can just kill at will, shows no mercy, is no respecter of life at all – it looks for scapegoats, attributes blame, hands out punishment! It just so happens that the scapegoat was the gay community, and given what was happening at that time, it perhaps should not have been surprising. Minority groups have a long history of misunderstanding, stigma, discrimination, hate and ignominy! I am not defending the direction it took…I’m not going to shoot myself in the foot…but the point is, it was quite a while back now, and as awful and relentless as it was, as a community we not only survived it, but we fought back with the tools to hand – knowledge, facts, patience and dogged determination. 

One can’t deny that some of the negatives from that era live on. There is still prejudice, discrimination, stigma and musunderstanding! But it is also true that we don’t have it on our own – just ask any person with Down Syndrome. To hang onto the hate, and all the other negatives from that period in our history is to hold no one back but yourself! You know, we all walked in the footsteps of those that suffered, those that died! But by walking in their footsteps, when their footsteps stopped…ours continued on! To live with the negativity is to deny that a lot of good, positive, beautiful things were still going on. The community still lived, loved, and laughed. We supported each other, we were staunch in the face of adversity, we celebrated the lives of those who died with a gusto that was ever born of love. If ever there was a time I was proud to be a member of the gay community, it was through the 20 years of that horror!

Okay, it damaged me! As a fanatical reader & writer, it chose to attack perhaps the most important assets I had – my eyes! But it also presented me with new opportunities, new roads to venture down, new challenges to tackle. I can’t carty the hate because, despite everything, my life has not stopped, nor my humour, my inquisitiveness, my talents, nor my ability to just get on with it. I no longer go to candlelight vigils, or other AIDS memorials. It is too raw, too emotion charged, to ready to rip open healed wounds. I don’t forget – those who died are too entrenched in my memories for that – but now I choose to remember in more gentle ways. What every single one of my dead friends would have wanted is for me to get on with my life. Once a year their ghosts are going to waft around, to cajole me to tears, to invoke memories of wonderful times that will stay with me forever. 

But I’ll wake up tomorrow, and the ghosts will be gone. And just as they wanted, my life goes on. Who am I to argue with them!

Tim Alderman (2016)

Rumination of the Day (1st December 2016)

PAR,IAMENT HOUSE PROTEST

As much as our ineffective government is whinging, and despite that horrid & embarrassing Deputy PM, Barnaby Joyce, bleating on about the interruption to the “workings” of parliament, the protesters disrupting proceedings today, and drawing attention to the atrocious treatnent of those in our detention centres, and demanding the closing of same, it is – in fact – democracy in action! I, and nany others, applaud them!

Rumination of the Day (29 November 2016)

DESPOTS

So, Fidel Castro kicked the bucket! I know there are those out there gnashing their teeth, weeping and wailing over his death but hey – it’s just another dictator gone! These megalomaniacs who seem to be under the delusion that they have a right to just take over countries, wipe out any opposition, and kill innocent people in what is nothing more than a grab for power for personal aggrandisement, manipulation, and power play deserve what they get. That they brainwash almost entire populations into thinking that what they do is right  is beyond comprehension!

The 20th & 21st centuries have been rife with them, more so than any other time in human history! Some were outside my lifetime – Hitler, Lenin, Stalin,Tojo, Mussolini – but there have been, and are, so many in my lifetime even I can’t keep track. Idi Amin Dada, Pol Pot, Robert Mugabe, Mao Zedong, Kim Jong-il (and now his half-witted son), Saddam Hussein, Chiang Kai-Shek, Ferdinand Marcos (who would have been a lot wealthier if he curbed his Imelda’s shoe obsession), Kim Il-Sung, Francisco Franco, Ho Chi Minh, Muammar el- Gaddafi, Nikita Khrushchev, Bashar al-Assad, Hun Sen, Pervez Musharraf, Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga, Augusto Pinochet, Nicolae Ceaușescu, Suharto, Ruhollah Moosavi Khomeini, Wojciech Witold Jaruzelski, Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev, Mengistu Haile Mariam, Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, Hafez al-Assad, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, António de Oliveira Salazar, Alberto Fujimori Fujimori, Slobodan Milošević, Fulgencio Batista, Juan Domingo Perón, Manuel Noriega, General Tito Lutwa Okello, Hussain Muhammad Ershad, Papa Doc Duvalier,m, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz…and dozens of others I haven’t even heard of, have spent decades subjugating, killing, torturing, brainwashing, and propagandaing their way through peoples lives, more often than not holding populations to ransom, forcing them into poverty and misery as they rob their countries treasuries dry, as they live lives of extravagence and lucury. They are so caught up in their own world of megalomania and big-headed autocracy that they can’t even see their own vice and corruption. What’s worse – they actually think they matter! Along with religion, they can be added to the short list of causes of the most human deaths and misery. Between the two, multitudinous millions have died, or dragged into lives of extreme degradation. Torture, and the most agonising of deaths was made to seem normal, a spectator sport, even! No amount of sanctions, cutting political ties, or negotiating seems to stop these feelingless warmongers. 

So, Fidel Cadtro died, eh! Not one single tear will be shed here!

Tim Alderman (2016)

Rumination of the Day (28 November 2016)

RUMINATE

The World of Psychology would say this, wouldn’t they! I wonder if they ruminated on it…”When people ruminate, they over-think or obsess about situations or life events, such as work or relationships. Research has shown that rumination is associated with a variety of negative consequences, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, binge-drinking and binge-eating.Jan 20, 2011″,

Daily (Or When The Mood Takes Me) Gripe: The Disgrace of the Tasmanian Salmon Farming Big Guns- Tassal!

4 Corners Monday 31st October 2016 – Big Fish 

On last nights 4 Corners, we were presented with an investigation into the big wigs of salmon farming in Tasmania, and what was revealed is everything that is wrong with big corporations, not just here but worldwide. The lack of accountability, and the culture of denial for these companies is no longer something that can be hidden in plain sight.
To quote from my Facebook post just an hour after watching this  gobsmacking investigation where a serious  issue is treated like a game by Tassal –  “Lies, no transparency, lies, huge profits, lies, environmental vandalism to the once pristine waters around Tassie, lies, setting up “plants” for the 4 Corners interview, lies, ruining other businesses through their practices, lies, over-populating salmon farms, lies, denial of everything, and lies. Did I mention lies? And as to the WWF – just like the Heart Tick, it’s all up for sale under the guise of “donations” – provided the WWF can see fit to bestow its logo upon you…or as long as you can afford it. Corporate corruption is just par for the course these days, with government and its agencies seemingly turning a blind eye! Thank heaven for concerned citizens, whistleblowers, and those who are so fed up with it all that they just give the big FUCK YOU to them!

Oh..and in case you didn’t know, your lovely pink farmed salmon is coloured chemically through the fish food…they even get to choose the shade of pink! 

I am so glad I hate salmon, so not helping towards the profits of these unethical, immoral corporations. What an eye-opener…and unfortunately, none of it a shock! Let’s hope the pot has had a good stirring!”

Tassal are currently in the process of gaining permision to expand their salmon farming in bays along the Tasmanian shoreline. The environmental impact of what will become over-farming is dividing the community, but as always local government, state govrrnment and related agencies appear to be ignoring impact reports, and personal attempted interventions from those both experienced in the industry, and in several cases those impacted on a oersonal level by the current aggressive actions by Tassal.

The amount of fish excrement, and residue from feeding pellets, has to have a detrimental effect on what is currently a pristine environment, sitting on a knife edge. It doesn’t take a lot of common sense to see that things could – and have been – be tipped over the edge. That 4 Corners came to town obvioysly wasn’t a welcome intrusion “Four Corners doesn’t come down unless the community is concerned, I get that… I would be happier if we just slid under your radar and you hadn’t been here, but you’re here.” Company CEO. Obviously some Tassal employees are in the job just fot the pay – and not company loyalty – as several leaked documents from Tassal showed an attempt at subterfuge as far as the investigative team were concerned. Not only was a 50-page how-to-handle-Four-Corners manual produced by them, but most tellingly was a list of local big wigs who were “encouraged” to offer their support of Tassal in a contrived meeting that was rigged in their favour. One has to wonder just what inducements were offered by Tassal to gain their endorsement!

Even worse was a mussel farming small business that had been put out of business by Tassal’s intensive farming methods. A deadly sludge produced by cleaning methods on the salmon farms had coated and killed the mussels. Not only did the farm go broke, but a marriage was destroyed. Tassal, obviously not afraid to take advantage of a situation, offered to buy out the mussel farm leases – but with caveats attached. Most notable was the requirement to silence on the matter, that it was never to be spoken about, nor were they to denigrate Tassal. The poor ex-owner of the mussel farm was sick of carrying the burden around, and broke the caveat by speaking out against them. We need more people like this in the world! 

But perhaps the most disappointing – though not really coming as a shock – was the attitude and lack of ethics of WWF (World Wildlife Fund) Australia. We have known for some time now that organisations like this – and the Heart Tick is another – get funding from selling their logo to put on products distributed by corporations like Tassal – with no impunity! This organisation is supposedly about protecting the environment, and the wildlife within the environs. However, it would appear that money is more important than ethics, despite knowing that their logo on a product is, from the publics point of view, a reason to select that product for purchase. What a savage deception! The organisations we turn to to provide protection in the environment against the violations of big business (who only care about shareholders and profits) is disillusioning! They are really no better than those offering “donations” to procure an endorsement that is, as it turns out, just a joke. WWF Australia did a total fail with their attempts to validate why Tassal were allowed to use their logo!

The sad thing is that once again, big business is bulldozing its way through the process, offering the community much needed jobs and money…but at what cost! Often, as we know, the end does not justify the means. Tassal are, like so many corporations now, using language and trends to portray their businesses in a positive light. They tout their transparency (at the opaque end of the scale) and their environmental “sustainability” and “best practice” like badges of honour, meanwhile hiding behind the semantics, and self-reporting (all in-house) to subvert the outcome to something that is less than desirable, or accountable  Producing salmon is big business and the industry is reaping big profits with plans to turn it into a billion dollar industry within 15 years. “”I would say that salmon farming is clean and green though it’s not a term that I’d like to use. I would say that it’s a responsibly farmed product and I think we do it in an environmentally responsible way.” Company spokesperson”.

Thankfully, I do not like salmon, so feel I can assume the high moral ground…don’t take that seriously, please! However, finding out what went into the feeding pellets…some ingredients even unknown by the employee intervieed – would positively turn your stomach. I encountered a similar situation with dogs kibble several years ago, and I now read ingredients listings, and pay more for quality kibble. That there is a chemical colouring agent included in the feed should be of concern to everyone. “If a consumer were to see a salmon fillet that was a pale grey or a white, chances are they wouldn’t buy it.” Lawyer!

There are those who care – members of the local community, environmentalists, ecologists, whistleblowers, and those whose livlihoods have been destroyed by the bullying tactics of big business like Tassal. While empty-mouthing platitudes about “the industry pulling  together”, are really just interested in their own profits, and giving shareholders a dividend. It is a sad state of affairs.

Tim Alderman (C) 2016

Daily (Or When The Mood Tales Me) Gripe: Has HIV Inc. Run Out of Steam!

This year marks, for me, 34 years of living with HIV/AIDS…though now it is just HIV. I consider it a landmark, as back in 1996 I was admitted to Prince Henry hospital with chronic CMV retinitis, chronic candida, chronic anaemia, wasting syndrome (48 kg and going down), 10 CD 4 cells, and no immune system, and was not supposed to leave…at least not under my own steam. That  I did was only due to advances in medications at that particular time, very aggressive treatment, some great doctors and nurses –  and a lot of will power. I don’t give a fuck how negative many HIV+ guys are about life with HIV. For me, this was the great singular event of my life, a pivotal point that resulted in life-altering decisions, a mental overhaul, and the knowledge that there was a hell of a lot more to life THAN HIV. It altered the course of my life, and for better or worse I have never looked back. 

I was a speaker for the Positive Speakers Bureau for 12 years before realising that when you continually tell a story you start doing it by rote. Time to get out before it became totally meaningless. I have also written for “Talkabout” magazine (the flag ship publication of Positive Life NSW – formally PLWHA NSW Inc) for 15 years, both as a features writer and a columnist. As a writer I see my role to be not just to inform people, but to provoke debate, at times to be opinionated, to raise questions, to address abuses and unfairness and to be, when required, controversial. Unfortunately, my time with “Talkabout” taught me that to get published in a HIV publication you need to walk the safe road. To be controversial is to be tolling your own death knell. Mind you, this censorship has nothing to do with the editors who, in my experience, have been nothing but supportive. Community Health and a certain AIDS council provide funding to the magazine, so to poke your nose into sensitive areas will ensure your censure and non-publication. As a HIV+ person writing about HIV issues I have always found my hands tied. I have written two extremely controversial articles on HIV issues over the years. One, on Options Employment Services using HIV clients as a free work force, in the guise of “work experience”, was so watered down by the editor after threats of suing PLWHA, the editor and myself (I truly wish they had) that by the time of publication it was a mere shadow of its original fiery tirade…despite the fact that I had evidence of this going on. The manager of “Options”even took me aside and “suggested” that I quieten down my opinions as they were providing a service to the HIV community. Shortly after this fiasco, they went broke and disappeared. The second article was amongst the best pieces I have ever written, and covered the controversial area of bug-chasing (HIV- guys who deliberately have unprotected sex with HIV+ guys in the hope of contracting HIV). The magazines working group deemed that by writing about bug-chasing I may have been promoting it amongst a certain sector of the community. Considering that the practice is well documented, is acknowledged and exists, I failed to see how being informative about it was in any way promoting it…oh shit! I forgot that community health and certain HIV organisations wanted to keep their heads buried in the sand about such unpleasant issues…and they held the purse-strings. Censorship is alive and well within the HIV community and always has been. Want to tell the truth about what is going on or want to expose something? Not on their watch!

But despite this I continue to write, though I keep it to the more nondescript these days, and publish them on my blog. I have around 100 followers – not bad for an unknown.. I do enjoy being published! When I moved to Brisbane I began phasing out my writing for “Talkabout” (which after 15 years of being published in pretty well every issue, has gone unacknowledged by the organisation itself, though not by the editors), and had started writing for QPP “Alive”, the magazine of Queensland Positive People. Same story, different place as far as funding goes, I’m afraid. Nothing controversial would be coming out of there either. Nor did I get paid anymore – one advantage of “Talkabout”.

34 years ago at the start of the HIV shit fight, people never questioned anything about treatments, definitions, philosophies, or courses-of-action. We were in crisis mode and anything was better than nothing. We let a lot happen that in more sane, accountable times would never have been allowed to happen. This far down the line it is time to start asking questions, time to demand investigations and redefinition into many aspects of treatment, time to look back at some of the historical record and say “we were wrong”, and set the record straight. I no longer allow my doctor, or the HIV establishment, nor the drug companiesi in particular, to dictate my path to positive health outcomes. I follow my own path, which is dictated to by knowledge and experience. 12 years ago I made a decision to halve my daily medications, and dose myself once a day only. Considering the negative impacts of huge amounts of HIV medication on the body I decided to take a risk. Well, this far down the line my health has never been better (though diet and exercise also contribute to that), my viral load has remained at undetectable, and not only has my CD4 count remained stable, it has in fact risen substantially. Considering the recent emphasis on drug regime “compliance”, and considering my own circumstances, I am forced to ask – controversially, naturally – if the compliance issue is being driven by HIV specialists, or by the drug companies who stand to make a fortune out of HIV drugs. In the same way, I question resistance testing. I will leave that question in the air for you to mull over and answer for yourself. This is a personal opinion, and one I am entitled to.

I started “withdrawing” from the HIV community – in a generalised way – a number of years ago. It was starting to irk me, and was bogged down in academia, and a narrow mind-set. As stated earlier, the fact that something comes from the upper echelons of HIV Inc, doesn’t necessarily mean I believe or accept it. You tend to get a reputation for being obstreperous when you adopt this philosophy, and question everything that is thrown your way. There is little doubt that anyone from HIV Inc…or its sycophants (those who blindly follow and agree with every word from the mouth of) who reads this opinion piece will accuse me of negativity, and not being supportive or a believer in the end of HIV. This is not correct. It is a big step from negativity to a position of voicing reality!

I have written on several occasions about my distrust of drug companies…though it is an area that many are now accepting. These multi-billion dollar corporations are as corrupt as – despite much denial from health practitioners, community groups, and the drug companies themselves. As long as there are stakeholders salivating at the stock price, this will never change. That we are over-dosed – a now acknowledged stand – is all to thebenefit  of the drug companies, who are, at the end of the day, just research, manufacturing & distribution companies, with no stakes in public health other than shoveling their massively over-priced medications down our gullible throats. Now that community pharmacies are handling HIV meds, I went to my local, and was probably the first to get my meds through them. They nearly had conniptions when they saw the price of them! Considering how many years some of these drugs gave been on the market for, the price has never come down. HIV was a regular little money spinner for the drug companies!

Our larger HIV community groups have also been very good at wasting money over the years, and still continue to. I have seen so many ineffective campaigns churned out by them over the years that I’ve lost track. Nothing like churning out the same messages year after year, targeting the converted, and the blasé. When you are given advertising targets, you…well…spend it! The community groups themselves will tell you that no campaign is launched without the blessings of a focus group. What they don’t tell you is that it is pretty well a hard core group of people who attend these focys groups and forums, so in actual fact it is the same people – irrespective of the organisation arranging things – castings their blessings on every campaign that is tested. No wonder they all look the same!

And don’t ever think you can rely on the same groups to be able to assist and support you as needs change, despite however much notice is given of situations changing. By the time they catch up with what is happening, hundreds will have fallen through the cracks, and others will have just given up, and end up fighting their own battles. At the time of the introduction of the then-named combination therapies, there were two major issues raised. One was assisting those who were resurrected from a porential death sentence, being cast back into a world ill-prepared for them, or their needs. The second issue was handling the massive volume of drugs being rammed down the throats of basically every HIV+ people at that time. At the height of new treatment regimes, I was shoveling 358 pills per week down my throat – antivirals, prophylactics,  and pills for side-effects. Wasn’t that fun, with the added value of time & dietary restrictions! The only group committed to the problem of compliance was “Caleo”, which had its funding withdrawn after 2 years – just when it was needed. HIV Inc. prioritising, .as usual. Bet there was plenty of money for yet ANOTHER wasted campaign on condom use! While they were throwing yet more money away, many like ne were negotiating unprotected sex with like-minded – usually other HIV+ – guys. Money would have been better spent advusing guys on this at that time, not years down the line…then treating it like it was a great revelation from the powers that be.

Likewise when I worked for the Positively Working Project. Sonia Lawless & myself spent 12 months putting together a needs assessment for guys returning to the workforce after being returned to reasonable health via HAART. Nothing truly innovative was actioned after this very important report was released. Guys were basically given no assistance at all to help in the transition from DSP to a form of “work” that was beneficial to them in the long run. I was a speaker for the “Reconstruction” program for quite some time, and the most obvious negative from these programs was that many guys got recycled from one program into another. How many times can you be shown how to write a resume, or how to approach an intervuew before it becomes a lost cause? Considering the recycle rate, one would have thought that it clicked with someone that the approach was wrong, that maybe the guys were looking for inspiration and support to direct their lives in new directions – one of the key outcomes of the Positively Working report was that guys did not want to return to their old professions, but wanted to go off in new directions. No one listened!

HIV Inc. has a bad habit of being dogmatic, of only expressing the narrow, popularist view! You only have to go to any HIV web site, or forum to see how prolific this attitude is. If you want help and support, then ensure you walk in the safe zone, looking neither left nor right. Don’t problem solve yourself, don’t question the status quo! Over the 23 years I have been on DSP, I have – perhaps to my detriment – never used many of the services and financial assistance available. I hate the victim mentality, and have always liked my independence and financial freedom, and have always managed to get by. If I truly needed the help, I would have gone for it. I always remember my anger at guys who used to attend the Luncheon Club. They would be given cheap meals, and access to cheap food through the Larder – yet after the lunch, you would see them in yhe pub drinking till all hours, and all smoking! Seems they weren’t willing to sacrifice anything at all – the more you gave, the more they took. I always thought it was wrong, that their priorities were skewed. I still think that. Add in bill assistance from BGF, and housing subsidies…and these guys had it a lot better than many pensioners in the general community.

Anyway, times moved on. Now we have PrEP, and “Ending HIV”! According to HIV Inc, implementing the former will create the latter. According to a comment on a recent post placed on a FB HIV group page, during a discussion on PrEP, “if you have raw sex and take PrEP, no more HIV transmission, so no more HIV”. As simple as that! I was so angry at the naivety of it all Inever  returned to the post. The “Ending HIV” campaign is just ANOTHER example of HIV Inc. wasting precious money. There are several big problems here. One is the emphasis on sexual practice, and the assumption that because testing kits, and PrEP are available, that everyone is going to use them…another assumption being that everyone prepares for sex. Yeah, we all know about that! The only realistic fact I’ve read so far is that guys are sick of using condoms – are, in fact, not using them! I could have told them this 20 years ago!  The general discussion seems to be around eradicating HIV in Australia (no man is an island…) but logic decrees that is never going to happen. We have to account for the tyranny of distance often making both kits and PrEP difficult to obtain, people who are heavy drug users, bisexuality, guys who want to remain anonymous, cultural differences, worldwide travel, religious beliefs – these are just some of the obstacles. And as one guy pointed out, why should we be exposing perfectly healthy guys to the toxic effects of HIV drugs! It’s a good point. Most of us who take the drugs regularly are concerned about the long term side effects of same. I wouldn’t be taking them if I didn’t have to! It was also pointed out that new classes and alternate antibiotics are currently geing tested, and that these, along with PrEP will not only eliminate HIV, but STI’s in general. Evidently we are heading towards the perfect world. My immediate thought was…oh, new antibiotics…so, how long until STI’s make us resistant to these as well! Worth thinking about. This seems to be all HIV is about now – at least that’s all I seem to read about, and encounter through HIV groups. There is a lot of philosophising around both issues – good luck with that!

There was a time about 10 years ago when I thought that a changing of the guard from the older to the younger generation would bring about new thinking and ideas. It may have worked, but the old guard hovered in the background, never really wanting to relinquish their hold. The new guard just became copies of the old guard, and nothing seems to have progressed. There is a certain degree of internalised discrimination towards some sectors of the HIV community, and that hasn’t helped things. Also a certain degreebof self-stigmatisation, and being a victim amongst a group of guys fairly recently converted who will, in all probability, never get ill. A current trend to outing their HIV status to employers – who rarely receive the news gratefully – then leads to a string of posts on what to do. I don’t quite get why there is a need to advertise you status to all and sundry. Even in pre-HIV days, if you contracted an STI, the only people you informed were sexual partners. In my 34 years of living with HIV, I have only ever informed one company of my status – and that was for OH&S reasons. It’s not like the 80s & 90s when people with AIDS looked very obviously ill, and there was no hiding it. That doesn’t happen anymore. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, and don’t believe in making a rod for my own back. I acknowledge that it is their lives to do with as they see fit, but common sense should decree that if you are going to travel that road, you should ask yourself – what can go wrong here! And if the worstcase  scenario presents, are you prepared to deal with the backlash. 

So, right here and now, I’m an ageing HIV+ man. I see a lot of HIV funding been spent on a lot of things – but nothing that is of any use to me! I don’t see the funding assisting with an actual cure, or giving me a place to go should my current pathway be diverted! As someone with a disability brought about by AIDS, no one has ever asked me…what would you really like? What can we do to assist and support you? There was much to-do about a Long-Term Survivors Day earlier this year. I remember thinking at the time – Why? Nothing will come out of it! As usual, we will be left to fight our own battles! It was a nice bit of tokenism, I guess. We like to think that we are thought about occasionally, even as just a passing thought. You see, we are seen as HIV past, not as HIV present. No one really understands us, as few walk in our shoes. It’s a lonely path at times, and frequently alienating. But we have defied the odds, and will probably continue to. HIV Inc. doesn’t have us in their sights any more…but then…

Maybe that’s just how we want it. It’s a no-bullshit world for most of us!

Tim Alderman (C) 2016

PS The following article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 22nd May 2017. It would seem to discount both using PrEP, and Ending HIV! http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/melbourne-man-tests-positive-to-hiv-while-taking-preventative-drug-20170522-gwaavh.html 

Daily (Or When The Mood Takes Me) Gripe: This Bloody Marriage Equality Plebiscite!

plebiscite

ˈplɛbɪsʌɪt,-sɪt/

noun

noun: plebiscite; plural noun: plebiscites

the direct vote of all the members of an electorate on an important public question such as a change in the constitution.

“the administration will hold a plebiscite for the approval of constitutional reforms”

synonyms: vote, referendum, ballot, poll

“a plebiscite for the approval of constitutional reforms”

ROMAN HISTORY

a law enacted by the plebeians’ assembly.

Australia is moving backwards at the speed of light! I have always been proud to be a member of society in a country that used to be progressive, fair-minded, and – to a large extent – liberal (not in the political party sense of the word) in its attitudes! But the current path we are heading down has me throwing my hands in the air.

GLBT members of this society have had to sit on their hands over the last few years as country after country – some leaning towards the conservative sude of things – has passed marriage equality legislation. Even our “other state” over the ditch (New Zealand for our overseas readers), who can be more British than the Brits, have marriage equality. 

There was a time when we would have been at the forefront with this move towards equality for all…but apparently no more. The move to have a plebiscite to change the definition of marriage – how marriage ever became a government defined societal act in the first place is something I’m not going into – was mooted originally by our ultra-conservative, Catholic now-ex-PM Tony Abbott, as a way of avouding the issue from a parliamentary perspective, and seeming to allow the “Australian people” to have a say in things – despite polls over the years showing a steadily increasing percentage of the population being in favour of marriage equality. Go figure!

A vote for marriage equality could be done thus week by a vote in parliament. Yes, they do have that power! Instead, PM Malcolm aTurnbull – who is personally in favour of msrriage equality – has decided to not stick by his guns, nor show the guts needed to tell his party to show some gumption by voting on the issue, but going forward with this plebuscite that is going to cost the aAustralian taxpayers around $160+ million. And this from a government facing the largest budget deficit ever seen in this countries history! To make it even worse, they are oroviding funding to both the Yes and No sides of the argument!

So, what will the plebiscite give us that a vote in parliament won’t? In a word – nothing! It will happen, the conservatives will be left wringing their hands while the najority of us celebrate. It is the process of a plebiscite that is the problem! The government throwing some funding their way must have groups like the Australian Christian Lobby rubbing their hands with glee as they plot and plan their campaign of lies,misinformation, diversions and fear! Society will implode, the hand of god will strike us all down, and life as we know it will never be the same again! What a crock of shit! The proponents of hate-speech – invluding some of our conservative politicians and independents – are going to have a field day! Yeah, sure, the government has said that anti-discrimination legislation will still apply as a condition of the funding…but that does not stop what will be preached from pulpits (under the guide of biblical sermons), or is said in private, or behind the closed doors of meetings (redacted minutes?)! Nor will it stop the crackpots who just don’t care who they hurt pr traumatise! It is a prescription for hate! 

I’m an old hand when it comes to bullying and nane-calling as a nember of the LGBT community. It is like water off a ducks back! But not all are as tough! There are those poised on the sidelines, waiting for that magic moment amongst all their sexual confusion when the light comes on, they have that instant courage, and come out. They will be watching this shit-fight going on around them! They will see the hate, the lies, the true characters of those who think that they have rights that others shouldn’t have! And they will stop, and wonder…is this what I want to find if I come out! I fear – and bleed – for them!

What is it with this country that we always choose – or rather our politicians choose – the wrong way to approach things that can gring about great change in our society! We had it with the Republican referendum in 1999, when nany of us wanted a Republic, but were forced to vote against it due to the question containing the condition that the President would be voted in by parliament, rather than by the people! Needless to say, it failed. Now we have a similar issue with the plebiscite. It has become such a contentious issue that the opposition will more than likely vote against it, and as much as I hate to say this about anything that can bring about change – I hope the plebiscite doesn’t go ahead. It is time for our government to take some responsibility, and be arbiters of change, rather than “throwing blame” back onto the voting punlic, and allowing the advocates of hate, prejudice, intolerance and stigma to have their moment in the spotlight. Their insistence – against all reason – to tow the party line is not only putting them out of touch, but displays a crack within their own party that reeks of intolerance and hate!

I do not want marriage equality for myself. I am more than happy to live in sin. But I do want it for those who want it. Like everything else in society, they have a right to choice, a right to love their partner as they see fit. And no one has the right to deprive them of that. Society will not implode, the planet will not stop turning, lightening will not flow from heaven haling in the apocalypse! NOTHING will change! In 2004, PM John Howard used parliamentary vote to add the common law  definition of marriage (that it is between a man and a woman) to the marriage act. If a vote of this nature can be used to change the definition of the act once, it can be used to change it again!

The plebiscite, I think, will fail! The wait goes on! Change WILL come! Hate will never win out against tolerance and love! EVER!

Tim Alderman (C 2016)

I Do!