Monday, 1 December 2008

Today is World Aids Day

Today, 1 December 2008, is the 20th anniversary of World Aids Day. In 1988, the World Health Organization declared the first World AIDS Day in an effort to raise public awareness about HIV/AIDS issues, including the need for support and understanding for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Complacency has snuck in about our reaction to HIV/AIDS, with the inevitable result- infection rates have risen, and continue to rise.

Two years ago, on behalf of Qnews, I travelled to San Francisco and handed over examples of a campaign run in Qnews based on California campaigns targetting young men who have ended up with AIDS. In my naivete I was surprised to learn from Stop Aids deputy director Jason Riggs about how one quarter of the gay men in the Bay area had HIV/AIDS and that although no positive link could be established, infection rates waxed and waned at the same time with the number of those using Ice- when Ice usage rates went up, so did HIV infections, and when Ice usage rates went down, so did the number of new infections.

I was also surprised to learn that syphilis and gonorrhea rates had increased. Where were the new infections? I was told mainly among positive gay men. Why had those rates gone up? I was told that the anecdotal evidence was that positive men sought out other positive men, and as both were positive, did not use protection. Result- the spread of these old nasties. Added to that- those with HIV/AIDS not surprisingly had lower immunity- meaning that they got a lot sicker from the old nasties than someone who was not infected with HIV/AIDS.

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