AIDS IS FAR FROM OVER!

Posted by rj on Saturday, December 3, 2011

It is two days since WORLD AIDS DAY on December 1st and I believe the media has done very little to emphasize that HIV/AIDS is still a major epidemic  among gay men in this country.  It has been important to point out the tragic circumstances of people with AIDS in our Third World countries.  Their situations are extremely sad and need as much help as we can possibly manage to give.  The mere image of babies born with AIDS whose parents have died of the disease is horrendous.  At the same time, I believe we must lobby for the best care and help with the high cost of medications.  {In NJ, there is a very liberal state program to pay for an AIDS patient's medications-- in fact, all medications.  It's called ADDP/ and ADAP.  Hit me back for some information about this program.

Having typed that statement of fact, I feel this blog needs to be addressed to the young gay men in NJ who seem to have grown up oblivious to the reality of AIDS.  I often have a chance to speak with these guys who don't quite "get it" that HIV/AIDS needs to be a paramount consideration in how they live, love and trick. 

The story goes like this:  AIDS first appeared on the scene in the early 80's as doctors documented the death of gay men from a disease they found hard to diagnose, much less treat.  As the decade continued, more and more gay men were dying and there was little understanding of how AIDS could be slowed down in a person's body.  The experimental drugs that  were prescribed were almost useless.  During this time many of us were caring for our sick friends and ultimately attending their funerals on a regular basis.  It was also the beginning of the NAMES PROJECT/AIDS MEMORIAL QUILT for which we made memorial panels for those we lost.  In approximately 1995, the Quilt was displayed on the Great Mall in Washington, D.C. with the realization that the fatalities had become so enormous that this was the last time the QUILT could be displayed in its entirety in one place.  It was at just about this time that the medical community developed new medications (anti-reterovirals) which showed promise of slowing down HIV/AIDS.  The "cocktail"  was often a mixture of different meds (often more than a dozen pills) which needed to be taken at specific times of the day and night.  Adherence to the prescribed meds was difficult, if not impossible for many.

     It was in approximately 2000 that the meds were improved (often to one or two pills a day) and adherence improved and more men and women lived more normal lives if they had no side effects from the drugs.  It was also at this time that  some people would go for an anonymous HIV test and never call back using the code they were given to track their results.

I began this blog by criticizing the media, but I am happy to have witnessed good television coverage by both Ellen Degeneres and Wendy Williams.

So this brings us to 2011, and HIV/AIDS rates are increasing especially among the African-American community.  The number of gay men being diagnosed is also on the rise.  I will now share with you some of the thoughts and observations of the young men I've spoken to.  Here goes...............

"Condoms reduce my pleasure and aren't necessary anyway."

"In the porn flicks there's lots of bareback sex. "

"I'm a top so I can't get infected."

"Why bother with safe sex? Sooner or later everyone gets HIV anyway."

"The pope doesn't approve of using condoms."  OMG! The dude actually told me that!

"I am ashamed to buy condoms at the pharmacy."

I suggest that we all grow up a little and consider the outcome of our sexual conduct.  This doesn't mean becoming a hermit or developing a mental state of AFFRAIDS.  Find out what's safe(r) including what the lowest to the highest risks of AIDS happens to be. You just might be surprised by the answers.

 

 

For anonymous questions about AIDS, you can call  1-800-232-4636.

 

 

 

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