I think that the two pandemics have exposed a whole range of human values, feelings and reality checks points: rage, fear, compassion, love, denials, fatigue, ignorance, greed , poverty, patience and so for. They are all in the game now. The best and the worst of the human spirit. I believe that it’s up to us, as individuals and as communities, to choose and exercise that spirit: the best and the worst. At the end of the day, it’s a personal question: how I will respond and behave with these two pandemics and the pandemics to come?
Thank you for your attention!
For people living with HIV, like Gustavo, there is an inevitable comparison between the two pandemics: HIV and COVID-19. In his words, “While the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly had a negative impact on people from almost all walks of life, it hasn’t affected everyone equally. The pandemic has shed light on the deeply entrenched inequalities in our country that have resulted in oppressed groups and marginalized communities being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.” (We discuss this in detail here.)
While the viruses are very different, the differences in government and public reactions are very damning. One virus was ignored by authorities for years, the other saw an overnight coordinated response. To this day we have to beg for HIV/AIDS funding, but the coffers were opened wide for COVID-19. People living with HIV face stigma and judgement every day, something which has manifested for people with COVID but to a much lesser extent.
Gustavo expressed his experience of living under two pandemics with a series of paintings he has generously allowed us to use.