30th anniversary of the discovery of AIDS

The world on June the 5th

Yesterday, the world celebrated the 30th anniversary of the discovery of AIDS. In thirty years what has happened in the world? Is the “gay cancer” still affecting gays  more than straights? What about Africa and the price of drugs? And one of the biggest hopes of this century : a HIV vaccine? After reading several articles, I select an audio interview from The Economistwhich sums up the history of AIDS through these past years and what may happen in the future.

Despite the work from lobby groups, governments, doctors and the serious media… still too many people misunderstand the ways the HIV can be caught. Why?

There can be billion of answers to this question and I would like first to talk about the virus itself just because the HIV is not, as some people think, transmitted like a flu virus. Only direct contact can lead to infection (sexual intercourse without condom, sharing syringes, from mother to foetus and by breast-feeding). Thus, shaking hands, using same toilets, sharing meals and sleeping with a HIV positive person are not ways to catch HIV.

Distrust can also come from some media. When HIV was discovered, they were quick to misinform people. Most of them talked about the 4Hs responsible (Homosexuals, Haitians, Heroin addicts and Haemophiliacs) even the concept of gay cancer was written about in newspapers. How could some journalists with an higher education write such distorted information? And I even don’t talk about some religions which took advantage of this tragic event to off-load on homosexuals.

These positions led to a total disinterest from heterosexual people. they felt themselves did not feel concerned by AIDS until scientists and pressure groups revealed that more and more heterosexuals are contaminated and lobbied on governments to take actions against these violent and irresponsible speeches against the 4Hs. At the same time gay people (I am talking about France knowing less what happened in other countries) were one of the first to protect themselves against AIDS. They used condoms at any time in adult movies and in real life, one may understand that heterosexual did not.

Still, heterosexuals, and above all young people, do not feel concerned about HIV. This issue may be related to the past ideas but it is also linked, for instance, to irresponsible producers of adult movies because few of them used condoms in their movies and most of teenage males watch them. These past few years, young gays have been also concerned and neglected condoms, more and more are practicing “barebacking”. This tendency is a big issue when the anal intercourse is the easiest way and the worst to be infected by HIV. Media were still in this mess, in the 1990s they informed the arrival of the antiretroviral therapy as a miracle treatment but they forgot to underline the difficulties of the treatment. For young people, the assessment is clear, they feel less concerned to use condoms because AIDS is no longer leading to death.

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