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Posts Tagged ‘HIV

For World AIDS Day, A Troubling Report

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I heard this report yesterday on the all-news radio station in my area, and it caught my attention.  With World AIDS Day coming up on December 1st, some sobering statistics were announced that I think we need to take heed to.  The first thing that grabbed my attention was this:

“More than half of young people infected with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. DON’T know they’re infected.”

Young people, between 13-24, account for more than 1/4 of all new infections.  If there are 50,000 new infections per year, which is what they’re reporting, that means that roughly 12,500 of those new cases are young males between the ages of 13-24.  That’s not a good statistic.  That means that we’re failing in educating young people on HIV/AIDS prevention.  How can that even be possible with a disease that has been around since the early 1980s?

According to Julie Steenhuysen, Health and Science Correspondent for Reuters, that figure of 1/4 being young males stems from high infection rates amongst LGBT young people, African-American, and, Latino males.  What makes this problematic is that a lot of these young people report that they “Haven’t really learned much about how to protect [themselves] against infection.”  And, again, the question, “how is this even possible?”, comes into play.

And, of course, there are some who report being subjected to a lot of shame because of their sexuality and the stigma attached to being LGBT.  Now, the picture becomes a bit clearer.  Shame and stigma.  That goes back to a huge cultural problem we’re facing in today’s society as it pertains to the LGBT community.  This is the year 2012.  There is no way we should still be dealing with prejudices and bigotry when it comes to something as intrinsic to our being as our sexuality.  Worse, here’s more evidence of the life-threatening harm that it’s causing.

When asked what she thought needed to be done to reverse this trend, Julie Steenhuysen added this:

Communicating to the community how important it is to support young people, no matter where they are [with their sexuality] so that they can at least stay safe. That could mean…to train leaders who are not LGBT, perhaps in the faith community and entertainers to be more sensitive to stigma, and help establish a healthy environment for these young men in which to grow and to learn about their own sexuality.

I was a young, gay man when the HIV/AIDS epidemic exploded on the scene back in the early 1980s.  Worse, I lived in San Francisco during that time.  “Worse” because a.) I literally watched a least one friend die from this epidemic on a daily basis; and, b.) it was easily the most frightening time of my life.  Being a young, virile gay man, myself, at the time, of course I was sexually active as I searched for my Mr. Right.  And, at one point, I even resigned myself to the “reality” of “well, if all of my friends are infected, I must obviously be infected as well.”  By the grace of God, that was not the case.  And, once I got myself tested and learned that I’d been spared of this devastating disease, I changed everything about how I lived my life.  I educated myself.  Educating oneself was very easy then, pre-Internet days; it’s much easier today because of the Internet.  And, education is 100% effective.

Gone are the days when we can feel invincible and just do everything, sexually, we want to do.  That half of these young people didn’t even know they were infected is all the proof you need.  The only foolproof way of avoiding infection is protection.  Yes, I know that there will be fundamentalists who will argue that abstinence is the only true foolproof way of avoiding infection.  But, perhaps, being more in tune with the reality that these young people are going to have sex, protection is key.  Education has to be a key component in protecting oneself from contracting HIV/AIDS.  It’s that simple.  It’s 2012.  There’s no way there should be anyone, anyone!, who doesn’t have access to all of the education necessary to prevent numbers like this report reveals from happening.

December 1st, as we remember those who have already died from this epidemic, we must also re-energize our efforts to prevent it from continuing to spread.  That’s going to take acceptance.  That’s going to take communication.  That’s going to take education.

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MEDICAL BREAKTHROUGH: AIDS is Caused by Poppers!!!

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Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association and one of the leaders or the anti-gay movement said something astonishing.  According to him, AIDS is NOT caused by HIV.  Rather, it’s caused by “rampant promiscuity” and the use of poppers.  According to this sage, “the average homosexual has hundreds, sometimes over 1,000 sexual partners in his/her lifetime.”  I’m reminded of an old saying:  “It’s better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”  You know, this is so preposterous, I wasn’t even going to respond to it; however, it’s so dangerous yet humorous, I now feel I must.

Humor first:  If anyone knows this idiot’s address, please mail him a calendar.  The “poppers” theory is so 1984.  As I recall, that goes back to the day where they didn’t have a clue as to what was killing off our community and called it “the gay cancer”.  And, the only commonality they could possibly find was the little brown bottles we used to buy at the clubs.  Nineteen eighty four.  And, if the average homosexual has between 500 and 1,000 sexual partners in their lifetime, I feel severely cheated!

Why is this dangerous?  Do I really have to answer that?  This is the rhetoric that’s contributing heavily to the volatile environment we see today.  The environment that’s leading the children of idiots like this and their followers to think that it’s alright to degrade, torment, and bully LGBT teens.  It’s dangerous because certainly amongst the followers of maniacs like Mr. Fischer, and trust that there are many, there are some LGBT teens listening daily as mommy and daddy preach these words of hatred and intolerance in their presence not knowing that they are raising an LGBT teen.  As an extension, OTHER LGBT teens are hearing this type of purely ignorant but powerfully-delivered rhetoric.  And, that is one of the driving forces that leaves our LGBT teens with low self-esteem.  And, worse, it plays heavily into the escalation of the teen suicides we’re seeing right now.

There are a lot of people doing a lot of very good people doing a myriad of great things towards working for a solution to the problem of hatred and intolerance towards our LGBT teens, towards stemming this tide of bullying and bullycide.  Bryan Fischer proves beyond doubt that there’s still plenty of work that needs to be done.  I’ve said it many times before:  in order to begin to see a change in our social climate, we need a complete re-education of our society as a whole.  And, the place to start the re-education process is with the ADULTS!  The teens responsible for the bullying are merely a reflection of what they’re learning from the adults.  From the politicians who use their power and influence to denounce the validity of our love for another human to the preacher who leads his “congregation” to the funerals of gays with signs of hatred to the parents who disregard, derogate or, worse, simply disown their LBGT children, the re-education will have to start with the adults.  Somebody email Bryan Fischer and tell him that class is in session.

Written by Ron Kemp

January 21, 2012 at 5:32 am