Hemophilia, Rights, and AIDS
by David L. Kirp, Dissent Magazine, Summer 1997
On a warm afternoon in the autumn of 1996, a limousine pulled up at the gates of the Bayer AG plant in Berkeley, California, and a handful of young men piled out of the car, megaphones to the ready. “We are here to take your name away!” they shouted. “I.G. Farben, I.G. Farben, Zyklon B, Zyklon B”-an unsubtle reference to the lethal gas manufactured by the German pharmaceutical house and used to chilling effect in the Holocaust-“four thousand dead, four thousand dead, four thousand dead.” A cameraman recorded the scene, preparing “great source tape” for television stations to air.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, similar “zaps” were regularly launched by AIDS activists against drug companies. Then, the demonstrators were mainly young gay men, members of ACT-UP, protesting the pricing practices of pharmaceutical houses that made AZT and other drugs unaffordable to many people with AIDS. Though the focus of the 1996 protest remained AIDS, the protesters were hemophiliacs, not homosexuals. A few years earlier, they would have praised the drug company for manufacturing Factor VIII, the blood-clotting concentrate that enabled them to lead normal lives, but this lifeline had proved to be the source of HIV contamination. Consequently, more than half of those with severe or moderate hemophilia were infected with the deadly virus; and, since many nations relied on U.S. suppliers for blood-clotting products, similar calamities were reported not just in the United States but across the globe.
A tragic accident, the pharmaceutical houses called it, but to many hemophilia activists these casualties were the inevitable result of decisions driven by corporate greed.
Out of the nightmare of AIDS a new social movement has emerged. Not only in the United States but in scores of nations, people with hemophilia, historically quiescent, became a vocal group with an identity, an animus and a strategy. Their anger has been directed at firms like Bayer, which manufactured Factor VIII, as well as at governments, for their supposed failure to warn of the danger; at their doctors, who, they asserted, misled them; and even at their own organizations, which allegedly minimized the risk of exposure to HIV. This newly energized movement has demanded compensation from drug companies and governments, as well as apologies for wrong-doing and justice in the criminal courts.
In the midst of the AIDS devastation, people with hemophilia have claimed a degree of control over their own lives, and in so doing, they have obliged governments and transnational corporations to take them very seriously. While this is good news, there is also another, less noticed and less happy, tale to be told-about the fissioning of the AIDS-infected universe along the fault line of the deserving and the undeserving, the innocent and the guilty.
It’s becoming increasingly clear to me that, though I didn’t think about this at the time, I probably started a blog because I need somewhere to vent my boundless rage that is not random people’s Facebook walls. I mean, one thing among the many thousands of things that are guaranteed to raise my blood pressure is when folks get all “the internet isn’t real, and it’s not a viable platform for communication,” but also like, Facebook fights are dumb, I’m supposed to be an adult now.
So here’s the thing that got me all het up this week: gay marriage.
Specifically, these goddamn things:
This is going on my tumblr again.
and some of the months in-between
I get it…
cutest thing I’ve ever seen
That moment when you go to rinse out a shot glass at 5:00 and the person next to you is rinsing out their tea mug.
Post with 1 note
Do not come into our women and trans* spaces and tell us how to run things. This proves that we still need them in order to empower ourselves and support each other in our little place in society that isn’t patriarchal, or at least, isn’t directly patriarchal. Even within our little place, whether that be a student group or a table of women or a dorm or hall in a dorm, there are influences of patriarchy in our criticism when we look in the mirror or our need to look nice every morning.
You need to stop the mansplaning and whining when you say something in a meeting to piss us all off and I tell you the shut the hell up and let women do what women want, to let trans* people do what trans* people want, and stop preaching to us about the “right way” to do things because you don’t know the lives we live.
You need to stop questioning feminist movements’ tactics. Don’t come into a group of activists for the first time and tell us how to do our activism when we’ve been doing it for 3 years and this is your first meeting. Don’t question the very strategies that are wildly successful, more so than in other organizations on campus. We know what we’re doing, and if it wasn’t a success, we wouldn’t do it so many years in a row.
If you are a cisman, your job is not to tell women and trans* people how to live our lives. It is to either stand behind us and ask “what do you need me to do?”, or get the fuck out of the way.
I bet Mitt Romney frequently visits strip clubs because he loves to tell women what to do with their bodies.
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