Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Good News for Forty-Seven Percent of America

As I tried desperately to exorcise the demons from my day out of my body using the elliptical machine at the New York Sports Club on 14th Street I couldn't help looking at the 20 television screens facing my stationary vehicle of self flagellation. Half of the screens blared Drew Carey's new game show, "Power of 10." The premise of the show is that guests compete by estimating how Americans responded to various poll questions. Carey -- overweight, loud, crude -- seems the perfect host for "Power of 10," as he is clearly "Made in America." Who better to confront us with the truth about ourselves?

My iPod was delivering "The Pussycat Dolls," as I started to work up a sweat, so I could only read the screen, which flashed each poll question. The first question I saw grabbed everything -- my gut, head, heart, balls.

"What percentage of Americans would swim in a pool with a person they knew was infected with HIV?"

Again, I couldn't hear the banter between Carey and the two contestants as they prepared to enter their guesses. The contestants were two men, both as large as Carey, who appeared heterosexual and more ethnic than the host. They were literally and figuratively large slices of the American Pie. There was a great deal of laughing as they entered their respective estimates: one guessed 23% and the other thought it was in the low 30's percentage area.

My jaw dropped.

The poll results revealed that 53% of Americans polled indicated that they would swim in a pool; 47% apparently felt that they would not take that "risk."

My heart joined my jaw.

I'm not going to say anything more about this, other than it encouraged me to be more open about my HIV status and the fact that when I discovered my status I actually had an AIDS diagnosis. Ignorance on this issue is inexcusable in this country at this point. For that many Americans to think that any risk whatsoever exists for swimming in a chlorinated pool with someone who had HIV is shocking. Shocking, and deeply sad.

The good news for that 47% is that every single person I know who is HIV+ would refuse to swim in a pool with someone that ignorant or bigoted.

So, you're safe America.

Go have another Big Mac.

4 comments:

Cali said...

Even though I'm one of those "large Americans" I'd swim with you, if you'd swim with me. (I hear I'm supposedly contagious myself, now.)

I'm not afraid.

I'd also not fear giving you a hug or a kiss. There are many other things, which I will not elaborate here, that wouldn't bother me, either.

Steven said...

Amen! It was interesting that I had a post on this show not too long ago about what percentage of people believed people were born gay. That was much more promising than this post. Thanks for sharing!

SubtleKnife said...

I am furious!

Somebody just joked to me that his boyfriend got a job offer in California and he/we should persuade him to take it so he/we could go too. (they're coming over, I'll be plying them with wine - if only I had Stoli, it'd be a sure thing!)

But this just makes me so angry with the whole country. Which is such a shame because I know there are lots of lovely people there, like you yourself!

Cali, I don't believe we're contagious, we just displace too much water...

apyknowzitall said...

I'm pretty shocked that the percentage was that high as well as encouraged.