Today is World AIDS Day …
… and yea, we all know that the greatest number of people infected remain sexually active gay and bisexual men. But here are some hard, cold facts – and a few surprising ones – about this continuing epidemic which thirty years after its inception should have been a footnote in some dusty medical history textbook, not an active killer:
Just over a million people, most of them gay and bi men, are living with HIV in the U.S.
Less than half of gay and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV are receiving treatment. Some are ignoring treatment because of apathy, others because of discrimination.
Fifty thousand Americans become newly infected each year, an absurd figure for a largely preventable disease.
And here’s the real kicker: more than 6,000 gay men still die each year from diseases attributable to AIDS.
Pier Angelo, who writes for the South Florida Gay News, echoed my own repeated frustrations in his recent column entitled “AIDS: A Cocktail of Stupidity and Big Business as Usual.” Apathy, particularly among young gays who view AIDS as an “old faggot’s disease,” the continued practice of barebacking despite decades of preaching about condoms, and the misconception that just popping a pill will make it all go away are the leading reasons why AIDS remains on the gay radar. Add to this the disincentive by the Big Pharms to find a cure when they are reaping billions of dollars in profit off the life sustaining drugs they peddle.
What they don’t tell you in their four age ads except in six point type is that while their wonder drugs may keep the Big Bad Wolf at bay, they can’t prevent liver damage, early dementia, disfigured physiques, despite the steroids and human growth hormone, and premature aging (looking 60 when you’re 40).
As I’ve said many times, all these ads by the urban health departments and the federal Centers for Disease Control should be showing that, not some cute, beaming twenty or thirty something jerk who, in the words of pharm ads, boasts proudly: “I’ve started my own personal revolution.” A little late for that, huh, buddy?
As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words and here’s a pic you won’t soon forget that Mr. Angelo ran in his column:
Got the message?
Wednesday: Where did HIV really come from?