It’s really uncanny how many parallels you can draw between the AIDS epidemic and the current COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s even more uncanny how just in the last few weeks (and really, the entire year) we’ve also seen how similar the Asian-(American) experience has been in regards to AIDS and COVID.
The Manifesto from the Caucus of Asian & Pacific-Islander AIDS Activists details the historical problems AAPI people faced at the heights of the AIDs crisis. The rallying cry at the end of pg 637 almost mirrors sentiment today about COVID-19 and AAPI violence: “FIGHT RACISM, FIGHT SEXISM, FIGHT HOMOHPHOBIA, FIGHT GOVERNMENT NEGLECT, FIGHT INVISIBILITY, FIGHT AIDS
The wording is almost similar to many a social media caption or hashtag today, and the manifesto reads like an extended infographic one might see today on recent AAPI violence and commentary surrounding causes of violence against the AAPI communities.
A lot of the AAPI hate today stems from prior racist ideas such as fetishization of Asian women, the model minority myth and so forth, and many of these are historically present in issues like the AIDS crisis as well. The manifesto notes issues the AAPI community face like the threat of deportation in positive cases of AIDS, lack of treatment and resources from the CDCs and cities and even lack of recognition racially, being categorized as ‘other’ (pg 636,637). If you look at the tweet below, you can see some of the concerns raised by AAPI folk today in regards to recent hate, and it honestly appears that much hasn’t changed since AIDS was at its worst. Social media posts today denouncing hate are just more modern takes of the Manifesto here, but the issues are almost all the same.