AIDS Needles

“Whenever I went swimming, if I stepped on something in the water, I thought it was an HIV infected needle. And all of my logic would be like ‘no, it doesn’t exist in the air that long, it’s really hard to do that…all this stuff. But all my friends would talk about it, how these needles were everywhere and they were gonna get us if we weren’t careful”

Informant Analysis: “The AIDS needles thing scared the crap out of me, and the idea still kind of does, which is insane, because like, I’m old enough now to know that one, that is impossible, that’s not how transmission occurs, and two, even if you get infected somehow, it is nothing like a death sentence the way it was back then. But I’m still enough of a child of the 80’s that it resonates with me”

Analysis: The fact that this urban legend had such an effect on the informant is a good indication of the culture in which he grew up. When he was growing up, AIDS was much more publicized and controversial, so this particular belief would have had more of a foothold in society, especially among kids. Even though he understands it better now, and knows it can’t be real, it still resonates with him. These kinds of “threatening” Urban legends and superstitions, when told and reinforced in childhood, seem to have a particular hold on those they are told to, even as adults. The element of this particular legend that makes it seem real is the reality of the disease, something that overshadowed much of the informant’s childhood politically and socially. Growing up now, we know about AIDS, but we aren’t seeing it on the news everyday and we are not being given as much misinformation as they were speculating about at the time. This urban legend seems to have taken advantage of the uncertainty surrounding the disease at the time, so people would more readily believe and fear the elusive “needles.”