Although the HIV/AIDS epidemic had not begun until the 80’s, Burn’s Black Hole set in the mid 1970’s seems to represent that “soon to come” epidemic that swept our nation by storm. This “bug” described in the graphic novel was only obtainable though sexual relations with someone else who has it. The comic does not show the extent of the dangers of HIV that are actually experienced in the real world, rather the comic focuses on the feelings of these teenagers struggling with this “bug” and how it affects them socially. A person’s HIV infection may progress to AIDS, the late stage of HIV infection, resulting in the weakening of their immune system. This results in varying dangerous symptoms and before the 2000’s, mostly resulted in death. Black Hole’s “bug” was not as severe as the current HIV infection; it did not result in death. The “bug” discusses in the graphic novel showed a teens’ struggles with dealing with this infection socially. Many teens in the book who were infected by this bug either chose to live in the forest or run away. Not being able to face their parents and the pressure they may put on them, these teens thought it would be best to live together, away from any societal or parental pressure and judgement.

Although most teens decided that living in the forest was their best bet at escaping, Rob was among the very few who stayed in school and lived a normal life with his infection. Only after him and Chris reconnected did they run away. While living in the forest, Rob still went to school; he proved that although he has this bug, he wants to continue his life as a normal teenager without the stress of this infection. The metaphor of this “bug” shows us a glimpse of what it’s like for people battling with HIV, people who are seemingly normal, but have some sort of “defect”. Although we do not see the extent of the struggle of having HIV, we see a piece of what it’s like for a teenager to live with this “bug” and the struggles they go through to remain normal and accepted.


2 Comments so far

  1.    Asim Shariff on October 26, 2016 12:44 am

    I agree with the points that you made in your argument.The “bug” is not as serious as HIV or AIDS. Burns allows the readers to see what life was like for people with HIV or AIDS. HIV and AIDS was a new concept at the time and there was not a lot of information about that subject. This frightened a lot of people like the “bug” did for the characters in the book. I agree with your explanation of how the “bug” is related to AIDS.

  2.    Jonathan Eng on October 26, 2016 1:26 am

    I agree that the “Bug” represents HIV or AIDS. The book has readers witness average people during the outbreak of HIV where people are not too sure on how its being spread around. When people such as Chris get infected they feel like monsters and isolate themselves. They feel that they are visibly marked with sin so everyone could see. However, Rob tries to live a normal life as a student without stressing about the bug. Because of this his “mark” is hidden.

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