“As shocking as it sounds, I believe the Soviets have already launched WW III, to the hilt. And it’s not at all the kind of war we’ve been expecting…The great Soviet first strike has been delivered with surreptitious biological warfare, not with nuclear weapons or ground forces”.— Lt.Col.Thomas E.Bearden in ‘Aids – Biological Warfare’.
“Dares to present real facts, placing the blame of this disease precisely where it falls, on the shoulders of wilfully promiscuous homosexuals and our timid government! Exposes the homosexual community’s sinister success in controlling government health officials and how the ‘gay’ community is succeeding in its evil agenda of legitimizing perversion in the eyes of youngsters”— Blurb on ‘Exposing the AIDS scandal’ by Dr. Paul Cameron
“I told you I was sick”— Inscription on hypochondriac’s gravestone.
Hypochondria is a wonderful thing. There is a whole universe of wonderful diseases, illnesses and sundry ailments out there waiting for you to discover. Does anything compare with the delights of diabetes, the pleasures of pneumonia or the sheer, unadulterated joy of coming down with a disease whose symptoms you can find no mention whatsoever of in your copy of ‘The Family Doctor’? The realisation that Death is lurking round every corner, waiting to mug you with his scythe certainly helps you appreciate life a whole lot more.
If there’s one disease that’s been a godsend to the pseudo-sick, and that has driven thousands of more people into our ranks, it’s AIDS. Even the government seems keen to drum home the message with commercials of icebergs crashing into tombstones (or was it tombstones crashing into icebergs?), quietly forgetting that you’ve currently got a greater chance of dying on the roads.
My personal paranoia produced one of the worst moments in my life: coming back to my desk the day after a visit to give blood (handily incorporating an AIDS test), I found a note asking me to phone the Blood Transfusion Service. Fortunately they were just checking my address – I’d moved since my last pint – but it took a long time for my heart-rate to return to normal. Not bad going, since I’m not the slightest homosexual, am totally unacquainted with the sharp end of heroin-filled syringes and can’t honestly claim to sleep with as many loose women as I’d like. So why do I occasionally find myself lying in bed, absent-mindedly checking my armpits for swollen lymph nodes?
Media hype is, unsurprisingly, largely responsible but it helps that most of the symptoms of AIDS are so nebulous as to be virtually meaningless. Tiredness, loss of appetite and sweating are three main ones, but there’s scarcely a disease worthy of the name that won’t leave you feeling tired, and if the imminent prospect of a terminal disease doesn’t stop you feeling hungry and make you break out into a cold sweat instead, you’re a cooler dude than I am. Also, AIDS does more than kill you, being the only disease that’ll terminate your family home too. No life insurance or mortgage company will pay out if you catch AIDS, whether you were healthy to start with or not, and some look askew at you if you admit to having had an AIDS test (which strikes me as hideously irresponsible).
This may be why AIDS puts the fear of God into people, or it might be the implication that they’ve been up to naughty tricks. Perhaps it’s the you-can’t-tell-by-looking aspect – it certainly doesn’t seem sporting, or English, that all you can do is spin the chamber of the carnal revolver, slap the barrel against your groin and pull! Or maybe it’s the sexual aspect generally, the idea that the most popular indoor sport of them all can seriously damage your health. Anyone remember herpes? Wasn’t that supposed to be the great disease of the decade? Turned out to be the sexually-transmitted equivalent of Sigue Sigue Sputnik, really. Yes, the sixties had hippy free love, the seventies had punk free love, the eighties had… Kylie Minogue and AIDS. Ever feel you were born in the wrong era?
But where do the conspiracies come in? Firstly, there’s the theory that AIDS sudden appearance is because it was a germ warfare weapon which was accidentally (or deliberately) released. Related to this is the Wrath Of God theory, very popular with people like James ‘Cesspool’ Anderton. The problem with both these is that lesbians very rarely get AIDS and while one may plausible consider the US government, or God, devious enough to construct a virus capable of wiping out all those pinko fags and Haitians, who’d want a world inhabited solely by women in dungarees and silly hair-cuts?
Meanwhile, certain sections of the gay community take it into the area of sexual politics, AIDS being nothing more than a heaven-sent excuse for the nasty Conservatives to repress someone else. They may be right (tho’ I suspect the number of gay Conservative MP’s is more than they’d like i.e. greater than none) but while I sympathise, I shrug my shoulders and feel such are the penalties of life in a democracy – most minority groups, from horror fans to SDP voters, reckon they’re repressed by someone or other. This is perfectly normal, well adjusted paranoia.
However, if you’re conspiracy hunting, it’s always worth looking to see who’s making the money and this time, pharmaceutical companies are the winners – shareholders in whichever company eventually finds a vaccine get cocktails in Rio. Yes, there’s no conspiracy theory like an economic one (preferably involving multinational companies), so my guess is that AIDS is the product of some highly illegal genetic engineering experiments in a Swiss laboratory, released on an unsuspecting world. The drugs cartels are just pretending to do vast amounts of research on it, saving enormous amounts of tax, and when they do release the vaccine (already discovered, but being kept secret), it’s more profit thanks to the paranoia they’ve induced in us, and they also get hailed as saviours of mankind.
Some of you may scoff, but you’ll know I’m speaking the truth when I’m found dangling off a bridge in Bristol with my trousers down and needle marks in my bum. Oh, sorry – wrong conspiracy. That’s only for those who work for Marconi, isn’t it? More on that one next time…