On the way home, however, I had to change trains, so I ended up with a fifteen minute pause on Parramatta station, where four teenage boys came and sat around me. I suppose they must have been in year twelve, year eleven at a push, but I have never been the best at guessing ages, so its not terribly important. However, while I was sitting there, one of them, who had a bag with new shoes in, began telling his friends how, if there were more than two hundred people in the country with AIDS, that the economy would go bust. He blew a raspberry and pointed his thumbs down when he said it.
"Dude, that's not true," one of his friend's said. He looked a lot like the other, in hair and clothes. "There's like three thousand people with AIDS in Australia. Probably more."
"My teacher told me. He said that the economy would collapse if it had to treat more than two hundred people. The country can't sustain it."
Next to him, I forgot myself and laughed.
The Shoe Kid turned to me. He looked a little pissed, but at the same time, was polite in respecting his elders, like any kid with new shoes should be. "Sorry," he said.
"No hassle," I said. "But I reckon there might be more than 200 people with AIDS in this country."
"Like, nearly four thousand," said his friend.
"Maybe a little more than that," I said.
"But my teacher told me!"
I laughed and let it go, because the only thing that occurred to me was to tell him was that his teacher was full of shit, and many were, and besides which, I was intruding and my train was coming. No doubt, after I left, they talked about what an asshole the big, bald guy in black had been, but to them, and the statement that there were no AIDS stats on the web for Australia, I present the following from the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO), "Up to 31 December 2008, the cumulative number of HIV infections in Australia was estimated at 28,330, and the cumulative number of AIDS diagnoses was 10,348. 6,765 deaths following AIDS had occurred. An estimated 17,444 people were living with HIV/AIDS in Australia in 2008." It'll be another seven or so months before the data for 2009 is released.
I told S. about it later, because--as is seen by this post--I like to share this kind of event. She told me that once, when she was younger, a woman had told her that AIDS had begun because a black man had sex with a monkey, and it was all the black man's fault. "You can't make this shit up," she told me.
Clearly, however, you can.