18.02-2014

Tonight, I’ve lit a candle.
This candle is in remembrance of a person I have never known, but whose name has been marked in my calendar for this particular day for months.
His name is Odd Kåre Rabben, and he was one of the first to publicly come out as HIV-positive in Norway. He is one of the many who had to endure the stigma that came with this awful disease, which he contracted as a result of infected blood, on account of his hemophilia.
He was diagnosed in 1985. In 1990, he came forth with his diagnosis.
On the 6th of February 1992, he was invited to meet with the King and Queen, during an audience at the Royal Residence. He died on this day in 1993, 21 years ago, before turning seventeen.

I don’t know much else about him. I don’t know which hardships he had to endure. I don’t know much about his short life. I know that he was part of the jury picking out the Norwegian segment for the 1992 ESC, and that he recorded a cassette before he died. He also established a foundation for the purpose of HIV-research at the National Hospital.
I know so little about this person, this young man and the hardships he must’ve endured on account of this disease that has taken so many lives, but I know that he was immensely important for the development we’ve had up until today and which is still ongoing.

Because of this, the name of this stranger has been written in my calendar for months, and I would like to express my gratitude for this young man and his bravery.

Though I have so little knowledge about him, I will never forget him.

 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Takk, Odd Kåre.

Odd Kåre Rabben’s mom, Vigdis has written a book about her son’s life and battle against the disease, published by Lunde Forlag under the title “Ei hånd å holde i”. It’s on my list of upcoming reads.

Advertisements

World Aids Day

On December 1st 1988, the first World Aids Day took place.
It’s been commemorated annually for 25 years.
Since the first outbreaks in 1981 over 25 million people have lost their lives due to Aids. Currently, there are about 33.4 million people living with the disease.
During the Aids epidemic in the 1980s and 90s, panic reigned due to lack of understanding and knowledge on what caused the virus, how it spread. It was synonymous with death. And for the majority, it was synonymous with gay sex. They called it “the gay plague” among other things. Newspapers wrote about the cancer killing gay people, some breaking the objective view and proclaiming it a punishment for the immoral lifestyle.

Today, we know better. Today we know that it can’t spread through kissing, touching or hugging. We know that anyone can get infected – not just gay people. We know better.
But we owe to the lives lost to commemorate the day. And we owe it to the people living with the virus.
We also owe it to all of these people, and to ourselves and our loved ones to be careful and take responsibility.
Safe sex is hot sex. Alright? It doesn’t matter which orientation you have – you’re not immune! Please take care of yourself.

I hope that many of you will commemorate World Aids Day tomorrow. Light a candle for the lives lost.
Or, if you live in Trondheim, why not attend the Light mass? I most likely can’t attend myself, although I really wanted to. But I’m celebrating my dad’s birthday tomorrow, so I probably can’t make it.

Because I’m starting the first installment of the Advent Calendar tomorrow, this year’s Aids Awareness drabble will be posted today.
Stay safe guys. ♡

 

Aids Awareness Drabble 2013:
Waiting.

It’s the first of December, one icy, blustery morning. The calendar on the sterile, white waiting room wall hasn’t been flipped, but reads November 30th, 1988 – Wednesday.
It irks one of the two men sitting on the hard, wooden chairs immensely. He wants to stand up and rip the leaf off, or flip the calendar to the right page, but he doesn’t budge. Getting up would mean letting go of the hand clutching his with such force. They’re the only couple in the room. The other patients are all by themselves, all men, seated with at least a couple of chairs between themselves. Nobody’s looking at one another, nobody’s exchanging glances. The atmosphere is tense and heavy.
He looks at the message board across the hall, at the information posters pinned up on it, full of advice and telephone numbers for support groups and circles. Apparently there’s a commemoration tonight. He doesn’t other reading on.

They’re lucky to be there together. He knows that. They’re lucky to have one another. Most go through the fear and shame alone.
He glances over at his lover, squeezing his hand gently, attempting a smile, which twists into a grimace instead. The other man didn’t really want to come here. Didn’t want to know.
He said he’d rather not know if he had it. It. Is there a worse word?
There are so many words for it, so many names. All of them sickening, unfamiliar and frightening, some of them hostile.
The dread is worse than the disease, he says. The disease is synonymous with death. Knowledge to him seems like a fate worse than dying.
But then they lost a dear friend. It came all too quickly, and yet it was so slow. This friend, the same friend who introduced them to one another, begged them to get tested.
“It’s worse not knowing.” He’d said.

So here they are. And the weight of their former lifestyle, their former lovers is heavy on their shoulders. Neither of them are very old, barely in their thirties, but it feels like it’s been a million years since it felt safe to be near another person, to hug, kiss or dance with someone. The spots where they used to go to dance, flirt and hook up are deserted. The news are hanging them out as perverse, murderous freaks.
Between them, the number of lovers is high. They could be lucky, but it’s likely they won’t be. Not both of them.
His palms are sweaty, gut swiveling with nausea. His lover’s face is ashen, his dark eyes keeping a close eye on the clock on the wall above the reception.
The grip on his hand tightens. The other man is shaking slightly. He is too.

A door opens, and a man comes out from the room where they perform the tests. He’s pale, looking uneasy as he takes his coat from the hanger by the side of the door. He puts it on and proceeds towards them with quiet steps. His gaze lingers slightly on the silent couple.
Reaching out a hand, he hesitates and lets it fall to his side before he speaks so quietly it’s hard to make out the words.
“Good luck,” the stranger says, his voice thick. “I hope you will be fine.”
They look up, hesitantly smiling back at the strange man. He exits the waiting room, disappearing into the freezing December morning.

Another door opens, and a nurse signals for them to come into the room. They stand, and support each other as they stagger towards the door, hearts in their throats. Both know what the other is thinking. Their hands continue to be tightly clasped as they walk into the next room.

***

Read more about World Aids Day.
Statistics and useful facts.