CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Owning Up To AIDS

Oct 1, 2006

In the early 80s when a strange new disease appeared in Western cities, it was first called GRID by the medical community: Gay Related Immunodeficiency Disease. This was because the disease was one that predominantly spread in the homosexual community. It was only after protests from homosexual activists that the name was changed to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).

Early on, the homosexual community and its supporters tried to convince the rest of society that AIDS could be caught by anyone. But that was far from the case. In the West, homosexual activity is the main way the disease is passed on, along with intravenous drug usage. Avoid the homosexual lifestyle, and intravenous drug use, and you have a much slimmer chance of getting AIDS.

Thus the early campaigns designed to convince heterosexuals that they were equally at risk of getting AIDS were exercises in propaganda and Political Correctness. When people like Madonna exclaimed that “AIDS Doesn’t Discriminate” she was being disingenuous at best. So too were those who put out the Grim Reaper ads in Australia in the early days of the epidemic. It was patent nonsense and misinformation then, and still is.

And given that the normal procedures associated with infectious diseases have not been used on AIDS, for fear of homosexual protests, it is clear, as some have put it, that AIDS has become the world’s first politically protected disease. And because we have refused to treat HIV/AIDS as we have any other public health risk, we now are paying a terrible price.

Fortunately a bit of sanity is reentering the debate. An article in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times (September 30, 2006), reports that a leading Californian homosexual group has decided to go straight – that is, decided to get back to the truth about AIDS.

As Sharon Bernstein writes in “HIV Ads Embrace, and Stun, Audience,” the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center is trying to reach the many gay men who have become complacent about HIV and AIDS. They have launched a major ad campaign with the frank admission: “HIV is a gay disease.”

It is running this message on billboards and magazines, with the tag line “Own It. End It.” The campaign is a major departure from the many years in which homosexuals “vigorously fought the contention that HIV is a disease of homosexuals.”

Thus it seems some have realised that to really combat AIDS there first must be some honesty about it: “The problem of AIDS apathy among gay and bisexual men is of particular concern on the West Coast, public health officials say, where the overwhelming majority of HIV transmission is among men engaging in sex with other men. In Los Angeles County, about 75% of HIV cases are among men who have had sex with other men.”

But Bernstein reports that many homosexuals are still fighting the idea, and refuse to admit that their behaviour is a major cause of the spread of the disease. Many simply refuse to take ownership for this calamity. But some are coming around:

“Greg Smiley, a gay man who is public policy director for the American Academy of HIV Medicine, said that at first he was stunned and offended by the ads. ‘If some other community except for the gay community said HIV was a gay disease, that would be something we would vilify,’ he said. But then, Smiley said, the concept started to grow on him. If I were to design a campaign, that wouldn’t necessarily be the slogan I would come up with … but letting it sink in a little bit more, it seems like a strong statement to make, and perfectly appropriate. I think we have to all own our own responsibilities and take responsibility for our actions and for our community,’ he said.”

Quite right. This may be a small step, but it is a step in the right direction nonetheless.

www.latimes.com/news/printedition/la-me-hiv30sep30,1,7654094.story?page=1&ctrack=1&cset=true

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2 Responses to Owning Up To AIDS

  • Hey Bill,
    Very good points to be making. But I just want you to elaborate on this here:
    “And because we have refused to treat HIV/AIDS as we have any other public health risk, we now are paying a terrible price.”
    I’m not very knowledgable about the history of AIDS and was wondering how it hasnt been treated like any other public health risk. I don’t want to put words in your mouth, so I’ll let you elaborate
    Thanks – Matt Page, Melbourne

  • Thanks Matt
    A very good question indeed. In the past, major infectious diseases were treated with very serious measures. But AIDS has been exempt, because of political pressure.

    AIDS should be treated as a medical issue, not a political one. AIDS is a public health epidemic, requiring the normal stringent measures. This should include all the usual means of prevention of transmission: Public Health Departments should be able to know who has the disease through case monitoring and contact tracing; routine testing must be undertaken; and notification of carriers should be mandatory.

    These are the standard steps taken with other dangerous infectious diseases. But fear of offending the homosexual lobby has prevented such common sense measures being undertaken. Tragically this has resulted in the deaths of many more people than need have been so.

    Other examples of politics being put before public heath concerns could be mentioned. For example, take the issue of contaminated blood supplies, due in part to homosexuals who have demanded the right to donate blood, even though to do so would spell the death sentence for some, such as haemophiliacs. Other high-risk groups have been barred from donating blood.

    Thanks again for your comments.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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