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«Для меня использовать презерватив также естественно, как есть» [For me to use a condom is as natural as eating].
The poster on the picture above I found hanging on a wall in one of the corridors of my university about a week ago. Since then I’ve seen two more posters like it with information about «ВИЧ (вирус иммунодефицита человека)» [HIV] directed at the youth of the Ural region (I’ll take pictures of the two other posters and post them here by the end of the week). I hardly think that I’m the first one to touch on the difficult and currently gigantic problem with HIV not only here in Yekaterinburg, but in Russia in general. Anyone who has ever applied for a Russian visa knows about the compulsory certificate proving that you’re HIV-negative needed in order to receive entry into the Russian Federation. Yet the results of letting only ‘healthy’ foreigners in are still unclear and it is far too early to tell whether or not the policy has had any positive effect in decreasing the number of infected Russians. This summer, right before I left to go home and ‘rest’ for two months, I saw a scary and huge poster by the side of the road with the words: «В этом автобусе с тобой едут 4 (четыре) ВИЧ-инфикцированных пассажира» [In this bus with you four HIV-infected passengers are riding]. Such information received in June makes it no surprise to me that the new state campaign to get Russian youth to use condoms loudly claims: «В Свердловской области каждый 25-ый от 15 до 29 живёт с ВИЧ» [In the Sverdlovsk Region (Sverdlovsk was the name of Yekaterinburg during the Soviet Union, and the region is still called that because, seriously, who could pronounce such a complicated word as «Екатеринбурская область» several times a day?) every 25th person between 15 and 29 lives with HIV].
Another thing, that might not have too much to do with Russia, is how much HIV/AIDS has affected my generation (of the 80’s). When my mother speaks about the 70’s and everything they ‘did’ back in those days, I find it hard to relate. Not because I’m part of a boring generation, but because I’m part of a cautious generation, a generation well aware of the risks brought along with the Sexual Revolution. Actually, I have a lot more thoughts and reflections that I would like to share with the world about my own generation – the way I see it – but I don’t know how interesting/correct they are. Basically, we’re a cautious and frightened generation marked by the terror attacks that happened while we were still not old enough to be a part of ‘the world’ yet not little kids anymore, thus capable of understanding. My generation remembers both worlds – before and after September 11th – and instead of settling for an insecure and mystical future, we’re highly inclined to search for secure and safe traditions of the past. Sometimes the values that we find for ourselves while we search the past (and I’m not speculating here: I’ve seen and heard and know many people who are just like this and don’t even think twice about it) are so conservative and traditional that we tend to ignore what’s been achieved since. And I’m not just talking Sweden here; I’m talking about the 80’s generation globally (from my narrow point of view). My predictions for us are as follows: we will get married and have children earlier, we will make decisions regarding career and town/country to settle down in early in life, and we will most likely be less prone to divorce than our parents or the generation before us (70’s); in general we’ll be the steady foundation on which the generation after us, the brave children of the 90’s and 00’s will build a new order. Though this is just a thesis – it might well be so that the financial crisis of the world right now hits the generation of the 90’s long enough to make the same effect on them that 11/09 had on the 80’s generation, thus making them also strive for the comfort of traditional family values.
Russia’s 90’s generation might be a little different, as the 80’s kids differ some from the rest of the world. I am very found of all the first year students that I see everywhere at the university – they were born 1992 and have never lived in USSR – because they’re all so individual and energetic, quite unlike the students born only a few years before them. Perhaps that’s because they were too small to understand just how bad things were during the 1990’s? Or because the future has getting brighter and better steadily ever since they started getting an allowance?
Anyway, this was not really my intention of today’s post… to go on for so long on the issue of generations… well, I suppose such things happen once in a while.