Alcs, Witness to HIV/AIDS since the 80s
“The right to informed choice”
It was the mid-80s and Alcs was studying fashion in Los Angeles. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) had just been discovered and labeled as fatal disease, but little else was known about it.
“It was the height of the AIDS scare.”, Alcs recalls. “I had friends who were dying and dropping like flies. Back then, we didn’t know that just by wearing condoms, we could protect ourselves and reduce the risk of HIV transmission.”
Alcs lost a total of 3 friends during that decade. “I had a friend who told me on his death bed: ‘Don’t cry or mourn for me, I had a great life! I was stupid, but you can help change that. Celebrate my life and the life of our brothers going through the same thing.’”
In the mid 90’s, Alcs continued to lose friends to AIDS.
“I have had too many wake up calls due to this infection. It’s here in our country and getting stronger due to ignorance and shame.”
It is this shame or “hiya” that presumably makes Alcs’ young friends go to him for advice on sexuality. “Maybe they see me as an older, more knowledgeable person, who will listen and not judge. Many are still embarrassed to buy condoms over the counter, so I prepare care packages to prepare them for their journey of discovery.”
These ‘care packages’ which he says contain safe sex products are his way of reminding the young ones to balance experimentation with responsibility and informed choice.
“It’s not about being promiscuous, it’s about protecting yourself. If you’re going to put it in, wrap it up!”, he quips.