Friday, January 07, 2005

ATTITUDES ABOUT AIDS

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Here is an example of an apparent problematic perspective on AIDS:


Wendel Kirkbride, who has been living with HIV for more than 17 years, is frustrated that people don't seem concerned about HIV/AIDS. He attributes a recent rise in cases among males age 20 to 29 to their perception of the success of new treatments, which "makes you so you don't want to use protected sex."

Got that? Mr. Kirkbride blames the recent rise is AIDS cases among young males on . . . new treatments for AIDS. It's not because these young men are choosing to engage in risky sexual behavior, but because advances in medical treatments make them want to engage in it.

Or maybe Mr. Kirkbride is merely providing an explanation, not a justification or ratationalization, for this behavior.

I dunno. The frustrating part of the AIDS epidemic is the fact that so many cases arise out of nothing more than the natural consequences of engaging in high risk sex. People who get AIDS from tainted blood or from their unfaithful spouse or from their mother (i.e. during gestation or via breast milk) are all genuine victims. They have committed no volitional act that placed them at risk of contracting AIDS.

But there are huge numbers of people who do commit volitional acts that place them at a high risk of contracting AIDS. People, particularly high risk groups like gay men, who engage in promiscuous, unprotected sex (the above-linked article states that "the majority of new infections reported between 1998 and 2003 - 53 percent - were among men who have sex with men") are simply playing Russian Roullette. They play the odds and everyone - themselves, their friends and family, and society in general - reap the tragic consequences.