Tuesday, May 31, 2011

30 Years & Counting - AIDS Hasn't Gone Away

Back in the 1980's we called it Gay Cancer, the disfiguring blotches of Kaposi's sarcoma that began appearing on a few gay men.  Later it was called GRID (gay-related immune deficiency) and I saw men who were once the picture of health hobbling down Cedar Springs with canes and walkers.  Some thought it was caused by poppers (alkyl nitrites used as an inhalant), others thought it was a government experiment gone wrong, or right depending on your level of paranoia.

It was soon given a name, AIDS and in the 30 years since then it is still around and now affects 60 million people with the number growing every day. Half of those infected are dead already, proving contrary to the media hype pushed by drug companies, AIDS is not a "chronic condition" like Diabetes.

We know now how the infection is spread.  It is preventable, and yet new cases keep popping up. Why?  Mostly because people live in the cognitive dissonance of "it can't happen to me". Young gay men have started having "bareback" sex shunning condoms as "so yesterday".  IV drug users continue to have poor access to clean needles and therefore share the used ones.  In developing countries, condom use is seen as "unmanly".  The Catholic Church continues to preach against condom use exposing billions of people to the infection on"religious grounds".

AIDS should be gone by now.  It should be so rare that it pops up only in extremely rare circumstances, yet it spreads. Though there is no cure, we know how to prevent the spread and yet it is still around.  What a hollow monument to all those who died before they knew how they became infected?

This article in the New York Times gives a good look at the past 30 years of the pandemic.

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