Who better to catch a thief than an ex-con? Not
Who would ever willingly inject themselves with the AIDS virus? What could push an individual to take on a terminal illness? It’s not unheard of. In the late 1980s, a group of punk rockers from Cuba, calling themselves “los frikis,” chose to inject themselves with the virus. But why?
Live as a Cuban punk at the time wasn’t what you’d call easy. They were often rejected by their families, or thrown in jail, and mandatory work laws in Cuba weighed on the young people. They weren’t even technically allowed to listen to the rock music that spoke to them so deeply. But why the choice to get HIV?
The choice had two main components. In part, it was a rejection of the living conditions in Cuba, a political statement that was almost a long term suicide to tell the government that their policies were unacceptable. But even more important was that being infected gave rockers a better quality of life. People with HIV and AIDS were housed in sanitariums. They got regular meals, air conditioning, and TV, they could wear what they liked and talk about what they liked, and even avoid military service or work.
Given the choice between a long, oppressive life, and a short, free life, Los Fikis chose freedom. The injection was termed “the oath,” and often came with music and liquor, together with friends. It was a carefully thought out choice.