hippybear, I think the article's making the opposite case: that the relatively open and free gay life of American cities contributed to the early spread of HIV.
As America remembers the life of Ronald Reagan, it must never forget his shameful abdication of leadership in the fight against AIDS. History may ultimately judge his presidency by the thousands who have and will die of AIDS.
Following discovery of the first cases in 1981, it soon became clear a national health crisis was developing. But President Reagan's response was "halting and ineffective," according to his biographer Lou Cannon. Those infected initially with this mysterious disease -- all gay men -- found themselves targeted with an unprecedented level of mean-spirited hostility.
A significant source of Reagan's support came from the newly identified religious right and the Moral Majority, a political-action group founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell. AIDS became the tool, and gay men the target, for the politics of fear, hate and discrimination. Falwell said "AIDS is the wrath of God upon homosexuals." Reagan's communications director Pat Buchanan argued that AIDS is "nature's revenge on gay men."
By Feb. 1, 1983, 1,025 AIDS cases were reported, and at least 394 had died in the United States. Reagan said nothing. On April 23, 1984, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced 4,177 reported cases in America and 1,807 deaths. In San Francisco, the health department reported more than 500 cases. Again, Reagan said nothing. That same year, 1984, the Democratic National Convention convened in San Francisco. Hoping to focus attention on the need for AIDS research, education and treatment, more than 100,000 sympathizers marched from the Castro to Moscone Center.
With each diagnosis, the pain and suffering spread across America. Everyone seemed to now know someone infected with AIDS. At a White House state dinner, first lady Nancy Reagan expressed concern for a guest showing signs of significant weight loss. On July 25, 1985, the American Hospital in Paris announced that Rock Hudson had AIDS.
With AIDS finally out of the closet, activists such as Paul Boneberg, who in 1984 started Mobilization Against AIDS in San Francisco, begged President Reagan to say something now that he, like thousands of Americans, knew a person with AIDS. Writing in the Washington Post in late 1985, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, stated: "It is surprising that the president could remain silent as 6,000 Americans died, that he could fail to acknowledge the epidemic's existence. Perhaps his staff felt he had to, since many of his New Right supporters have raised money by campaigning against homosexuals."
Reagan would ultimately address the issue of AIDS while president. His remarks came May 31, 1987 (near the end of his second term), at the Third International Conference on AIDS in Washington. When he spoke, 36,058 Americans had been diagnosed with AIDS and 20,849 had died. The disease had spread to 113 countries, with more than 50,000 cases.
Mr. Helms introduced it because he's upset with New York's Gay Men's Health Crisis. The organization has established a brilliant reputation in caring for and counseling those with AIDS and in educating others on how to prevent the spread of AIDS.
It serves gay men - Mr. Helms's ''perverts'' - because they're a primary AIDS risk group. Gays comprise about 10 percent of the United States' adult population, or 20 million people. If only half are male, 10 million men are at risk and in need of education and counseling on how to cut the risk. That's why the Gay Men's Health Crisis and organizations like it around the country exist.
To date, New York has had 11,513 AIDS cases reported; of these, 6,605 have died. Of the total cases, 55 percent are homosexual or bisexual men. Among these, the Gay Men's Health Crisis and city educational efforts have helped contribute to a decline in the seroconversion rate to 1 percent annually. In nonscientific terms, this means that if you took blood samples from homosexual or bisexual men one year and found them not infected with the AIDS virus, there's only a 1 percent chance that samples from the same men would be infected the next year.
Among intravenous drug users there's an 8 percent seroconversion rate. Obviously, education changes behavior among those whose faculties aren't impaired and enslaved by needles and drugs.
Senator Helms may not like homosexuals. But he and those who voted for the amendment should remember that homosexuals - and intravenous drug users - are the sons and daughters of families who love them. They too deserve protection against the gravest public health threat our nation faces.
Regrettably, lousy politics overwhelmed good public health policy. Apparently fearing an adverse reaction that a homophobic demagogue might inflame in their home state or districts, members of Congress gave in to homophobic hysteria.
It turns out that, just as the AIDS virus seems almost designed to perfectly exploit the weaknesses of the human immune system, treating it seems designed to exploit the weaknesses of our national health care system.
Donald Sterling, the racist cretin who owns the Los Angeles Clippers, [...]
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