riposte

It was obvious when the AIDS crisis emerged in the early 1980s that we would have to work together in solidarity to confront what was then still a mystery. From the beginning, Dr. Jonathan Mann, a pioneer in the response to the epidemic along with Drs Kapita M.Bila and N'Galy Bosenge, urged us with great conviction: "Do not forget what unites us", "refuse to accept the unacceptable". He encouraged us to never give up. Worried about the differences and injustices that accentuate vulnerabilities, he theorized about and promoted the idea that human health and human rights are intimately and inextricably linked. He worked to demonstrate how these fields overlap in their respective philosophies and goals to improve health and well-being, and to prevent premature death. He asked us repeatedly: "What is the difference between a patient in Zaire and a patient in New York? Why should one have rights and not the other? Even today, social, racial and gender issues remain challenges that we must collectively address to overcome HIV/AIDS. We will all get through this together, or no one will.

The most devastating epidemic in contemporary human history teaches us the importance of converging struggles. As early as 1987, Act Up New York brought together a diverse group of people from all walks of life to produce the collective intelligence to fight on all fronts and in all spaces. In 1989, Act Up-Paris followed suit.

Today, we still haven't learned the lessons of the past, and on the national and international levels, the call for convergence is fundamental. Resistance movements are in place because convergence cannot be decreed from on high. There is a prerequisite: the recognition of the humanity of every person. In France and in Europe, the disease disproportionately affects Blacks, homosexuals, and, more broadly, precarious populations. However, public officials still do not understand what is at stake. How else could undocumented migrant populations be affected by such dehumanization? In the 1980s, governments were slow to take an interest in certain social groups due to contempt and indifference since the epidemic did not seem to concern the majority of the population after all, which was a shameful error.

The colonial legacy has had the damaging result that human beings did not work together, even in the face of this health tragedy, because of racism and homophobia, and this is still the case today. We need to get away from these divisions that have the effect of weakening us collectively. We need to become aware of the system that separates us and works against the general interest. In Africa, the epidemic has long been perceived as the problem of white homosexuals. The collective unconscious has been brainwashed, giving the illusion that there are no homosexuals on the continent. Racial, sexual, gender and class prejudices and discrimination in both the North and the South have thus directly contributed to the deaths of millions of minority and non-minority people. The AIDS crisis is, however, the example par excellence given to the world to build, from a common tragic history, a revolutionary project of liberation, humanity and solidarity. Louis Georges Tin, an academic, suggested in an interview, some simple questions to ask: Is AIDS among homosexuals so different from AIDS among Africans? Is the issue of trans undocumented migrants so different from that of African undocumented migrants? Is racially motivated police violence so different from homophobic police violence in many countries? Are homophobic slurs in football stadiums on Sundays so different from monkey calls in the stands?

The HIV/AIDS crisis can become a driving force for more equitable development, the abolition of poverty, gender equality, health and quality of life for all. It should be able to spur each of us to do what we can to challenge the colonial and neocolonial systemic orders and oppressions that have allowed this disease to flourish. When will we seize the opportunity to leave future generations a society free of all hatred?

Bibliography :

A Voice in the Silence, by Monique Mbeka Phoba, a short documentary film made in 1996, tells the story of the struggle of Bruno Ediko, an HIV-positive Beninese.
Nothing Without Us: The Women Who Will End AIDS A film by Harriet Hirshorn
Christophe Broca, Se mobiliser contre le sida en Afrique, 2019
Helen Jackson, Sida Afrique, un continent en crise, 2002
Documentary Film : "Fire in the Blood", de Dylan Mohan Gray, 2012 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVf2UUu_w4o
Huntly Collins, « AIDS Pioneer Among the Victims : Jonathan Mann was one of first to warn of potential global devastation » [archive] [« Un pionnier du sida parmi les victimes : Jonathan Mann a été l'un des premiers à avertir d'une dévastation mondiale potentielle »], sur www.inquirer.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 18 juillet 2014.
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Seeing the people in the percentages, The Lancet, January 2021
https://www.thelancet.com...0343-X/fulltext
HIV 40: inequalities fuel pandemics / The Lancet, July 2021
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