Jessica has close ties with the HIV/AIDS world. How has this affected her and her friend’s lives personally, and how does Jessica think MY LIFE AFTER NOW will contribute to ongoing HIV awareness initiatives?
Thank you so much for the opportunity to write a guest post for your blog! I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to talk a little bit about My Life After Now.
Though I don’t have HIV personally, I feel like it’s always been around me. When I was little, I had a family member who died from AIDS. I didn’t know much about what that meant at the time, but I knew how sad it made my family.
Then, for a while, HIV/AIDS was everywhere in pop culture. It seemed everywhere you looked during my teen years the entertainment industry was referencing the AIDS crisis. Salt-n-Pepa’s “Let’s Talk About Sex,” Janeane Garofalo’s character waiting for her test results in Reality Bites, the musical Rent (which I was obsessed with—okay, still am), Pedro on The Real World: San Francisco, Jenny in Forrest Gump, Stone and Robin on General Hospital… But then that all kind of dropped off.
In the early 2000s, it seemed people kind of stopped talking about it. At least, they weren’t talking about it as much or with the same vehemence as they had in the ’80s and ’90s. That’s probably because, thanks to advancements in medication, people aren’t dying from AIDS at the rate they used to. So the whole issue is a little “out of sight, out of mind.”
A few years ago, someone close to me found out they were HIV-positive, and suddenly the issue was brought back into the spotlight for me. When’s the right time to go on medication? What do you tell someone you’re dating? Should you tell your co-workers or not? Will you ever be able to have children of your own? People with HIV/AIDS have to think about all these questions, and so many more, every single day.
I decided to write My Life After Now because I wanted to do something to help get the HIV/AIDS conversation going again, especially with teenagers. It’s a subject that’s gone largely ignored in YA literature up until now, yet it’s a huge part of our world. Hopefully this book will be a step toward filling that gap.