Wednesday 22 November 2017

Book Review: Wise Before Their Time: People with AIDS and HIV talk about their lives.

“As Powerful As Any Great Classic Of Fiction “So said Sir Ian McKellen in his Foreword to my book. And it is.Do you remember the terrible times of AIDS and HIV in the 1980s and 1990s?
If not, are you curious to learn what it was like for those diagnosed? Wise Before their Time, first published in 1992, shows in moving detail what it was like to live with HIV/AIDS when there was no real treatment for this life-threatening illness. It tells the true stories of over forty young men and women from all over the world, attending an international conference of people with HIV and AIDS in London in 1991.I have added a new cover and a short introduction to the new version, but the book remains essentially the same.

These were very young people (most were in their twenties and thirties) having to cope with an unexpectedly shortened life span.They describe the difficulties of telling their parents, friends and partners of their diagnosis, while trying to cope with the day-to-day problems of staying healthy, keeping in work and supporting their friends. They all experienced enormous stigma, blame and guilt because of the disease. This can be seen in all kinds of ways – from small things, like an Irishman being disappointed that friends did not want him to play with their child, to larger ones, suchas man being placed alone in an isolation hospital in Goa for some months with no help.They all knew others who had died. And one mother tells the story of the death of her toddler.Yet this is in no way a struggle to read. It is touching, it is enlightening and it is sometimes funny.  But most of all, there is virtually no self-pity. On the contrary, the participants were committed to celebrating the joys of life to the full. Which is why I chose the title – they were, genuinely, wise before their time. 
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