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Superbug or symbol?
March 17, 2005 8:17 PM   Subscribe

HIV prevention efforts are failing. Last year, the discovery of a New York man with a novel form of drug-resistant HIV that rapidly progressed to AIDS caused some to warn of the emergence of a "superbug." The first clinical analysis of the case will be published Saturday in The Lancet (NYT preview); Dr. Martin Markowitz concluded the cause of the rapid progression to AIDS may be incomplete -- but that efforts to prevent the epidemic must be redoubled, especially in light of the growing use of methamphetamines. Dr. Carlos del Rio is blunt: "This is telling us that AIDS prevention programs have been a failure." The Gay Men's Health Crisis agrees.
posted by docgonzo (79 comments total)

 
Or perhaps one particular administration in power promoting a failed strategy of abstinence over the demonstrated success of condom use in the continent with the highest HIV infection rate is allowing "superbug" mutations to take hold and spread overseas, among other possibilities.

Let's not play the blame game when gay people have sex. Yes, a small minority of gay men both use speed and bareback. But that's a small minority. These reports reinforce more of the same long-seated insecurities Americans have about gay people — even worse is how the GMHC is jumping on the Bush bandwagon!
posted by AlexReynolds at 8:44 PM on March 17, 2005


(Even if inadvertently.)
posted by AlexReynolds at 8:45 PM on March 17, 2005


Right, Alex nails it. The drug-addled gay drug fiend stereotype has got to go.
posted by Quartermass at 8:58 PM on March 17, 2005


AR--is the Bush anti-condom message really the main problem here? In no way do I support it, and maybe I just have a skewed perspective, but do gay men (or gay teens, or teens in general) really not know about condoms, or aren't using condoms because of the Bush agenda? I just don't think that's the case. No, all sexually active gays shouldn't be blamed for the increased numbers, but shouldn't the barebacking speed-using ones?

docgonzo--I'm very curious to read the Lancet case report; I don't think the development of the superbug (if it really is one) means that HIV prevention efforts aren't working. The fact that HIV infection incidence increased in 2004 among MSM does suggest that they aren't working.
posted by gramcracker at 9:03 PM on March 17, 2005


It infuritates me that the patient with this so called "superAIDS" is only two years older than me. He heard the message ... he can't not have. He's choosing death by orgasm.

I'm not going to blame the government this time around. Why don't we start invading every place with a glory hole and just, in a low tone of voice, start repeating, "you're here, you're dead, get used to it?"
posted by WolfDaddy at 9:08 PM on March 17, 2005


I really don't see the link to meth. It doesn't seem to be the transmission vector, just something that makes people stupid. It really does not seem like a particularly relevant detail in either of those articles. Why is it being given so much attention?

The issue here is unprotected sex. Period. Ultimately, though, we need a cure. Because we are never going to eliminate sex or lack of condom use. We can make a dent in the latter -- we have absolutely zero chance of eliminating the former.

Gramcracker -- the Bush anti-condom message is damaging in Africa, where AIDS takes most of its victims.
posted by teece at 9:15 PM on March 17, 2005


No, all sexually active gays shouldn't be blamed for the increased numbers, but shouldn't the barebacking speed-using ones?

The problem is that the straight masses either cannot or will not make this distinction. I won't get into a pointless discussion about straights being to blame for this reality, but it is a fact nonetheless.

I think this distinction fails for the same reason that Americans watch the US version of QAF, QEFSG, The 'L' Word, or Will and Grace, and come to the conclusion that all GLTB are sexy, twenty-something, wealthy urban professionals.

I don't think that the media does AIDS victims a service by suggesting they are all gay drug addicts.

I'd also like to point out that most AIDS victims in the United States are straight black women.

I'd LOVE to see the New York Times follow that fact with as much coverage as they are giving this "gay plague" thread.

I'm happy to follow Dan Savage's idea to make pozzed folks who willingly infect others pay for their victims' treatment. WolfDaddy is absolutely right: place the responsibilities appropriately.

Still, I am equally interested in seeing the media stop presenting AIDS as a treatable disease, which it is not. Once your drugs stop working, the HIV in you has mutated and will let other diseases kill you.

I'm also interested in seeing the media and Big Pharma stop presenting AIDS victims as happy, young and healthy people who are "managing" their disease — marketing that anyone suffering from HIV will tell you is complete bullshit.

I'm am really interested in the media stop promoting the minstrel shows I mentioned above, which present a dramatically unrealistic picture of the gay community and the issues it faces, along with stories such as those which drive the recent "gay plague" coverage.
posted by AlexReynolds at 9:19 PM on March 17, 2005


I admit that I'm intrigued by Dan Savage's idea about promoting sexual accountability/responsibility.
posted by ChrisTN at 9:19 PM on March 17, 2005


I agree that the Bush agenda is damning Africa; I need a little more evidence that it's damning the US in regard to MSM HIV infections.

AR:
* MSM are still the #1 group dying from AIDS in the US. Straight black women are #1 in becoming infected with HIV.
* I don't think the media or big pharma should be promoting HIV/AIDS as a treatable disease, but for some today, it is, if you have good health insurance and access to meds and a good doctor. It's not a fun, happy and healthy disease to have, but the advances in treatment, resistance-tracking, and drug cocktails have come a long way into making it much more manageable than it used to be; there may be a one-a-day pill available in the next year if approved by the FDA to make the regimen less overwhelming (but with the same bad side effects).
* You make a number of good points, but I'm not sure where I stand on the minstrel shows. They should probably address serious issues much more often than they do, but exposing people ignorant of gays is a good thing.
posted by gramcracker at 9:32 PM on March 17, 2005


Hate to jump on the Gay and Aids pairing bandwagon; and I did check myself immediately to make sure some pairing was made in the post (links are to dated material) but the scene at the gay party venues in Dallas, Austin, Ft. Lauderdale, etc., bring to light some occurances: Condoms suck. Club drugs are FUN! After 50 partners, why bother now? So and so has been positive for 10+ years and he just looks fantastic! Steroids + Viagra = Damn, aren't *we* sexy now!

And at what point does a circuit (or bear, military, etc...) party with a thousand+ very active gays qualify as a "small minority"? Small as compared to what? Is the first condom supposed to be a good luck charm for not using them the rest of the night?

AIDS and the gay crowd is NOT about the partnered and mature gay couple in a commited relationship or marriage.

AIDS is a superbug. Adding new nomenclature is akin to some idiotic marketing campaign of awareness. AIDS prevention and any crowd is about personal responsibility, self awareness, and commumnication.
posted by buzzman at 9:56 PM on March 17, 2005


I've got to correct AlexReynolds on one minor fact, the highest percentage of new infections are black women. There is an overwhelming AIDS denial in the greater black community. This is evidenced by the increase in down low black men caused by the overwhelming homophobia in black communities. I find it particularly disheartening when black church leaders encouraged their congregations to vote for GWB solely based on his stance on gay marriage, meanwhile their male parishioners are sleeping around on, lying to, and infecting their wives.
posted by hautenegro at 10:08 PM on March 17, 2005


And at what point does a circuit (or bear, military, etc...) party with a thousand+ very active gays qualify as a "small minority"? Small as compared to what?

As compared to the estimated 20 million gay men in the US.
posted by Tlogmer at 10:39 PM on March 17, 2005


Tlogmer, I think the point is sort of that there really doesn't seem to be any cultural push among the young gay community (well, really, under most young people communities) to form stable, long-lasting, monagomous, safe relationships. And that circuit parties only encourage that kind of behavior. I think people need to be a little rougher on the point if you get HIV that's a bad thing. And you need to tell your partner because you want to be a decent human being, and if they're a decent human being they're not going to treat you like a walking virus. And that when you run out and have sex with lots and lots of people in an unsafe manner, and share needles and whatnot, that is increasing the risk of getting this virus-which-is-a-bad-thing. Stop worrying about whether someone feels warm and happy and make sure they don't do stupid, stupid shit.

(And no, this is not "gay" problem, any more than it is the "black" problem that African-American kids consistently underperform in academics. It is a cultural, not an inherent thing, one that has been set up by outside forces and reinforced within.)

(Teece, meth is a problem 'cause of needle-sharing. And 'cause it gets distributed among these circuit parties so you get hundreds of horny people hopped up on a drug that makes them able to do it for hours and hours and hours. Basically, it makes things worse.)
posted by schroedinger at 1:16 AM on March 18, 2005


I'm bi and in my early 20s, so I have a lot of contact with the gay community. I think there is an increasing cultural push for stable, long-lasting, monogamous, safe relationships. It depends on who you hang out with; the most dangerous social circles are the ones most isolated from the mainstream: closeted kids who hook up anonymously using gay.com. Among out, well-adjusted people, anonymous sex is looked down on (as it is generally).

Of course, meth changes the social dynamic (one of the many reasons it's dangerous). But it's looked down on as well -- it's closer to the surface, maybe, close enough that people know its anthropomorphic street names, but not some kind of alcohol substitute.

Maybe things are different in club cities and meccas like San Francisco; my experience is with the midwest. Still, generalizing it as a Gay Problem rubs me the wrong way.
posted by Tlogmer at 1:59 AM on March 18, 2005


Oh, you addressed the last point. More broadly: yes, cultural factors encourage HIV, and curbing the cheeriness of HIV medication ads (designed to say "don't be afraid of getting tested; things will work out", but through years of repitition the subtext slides toward "people with HIV are cool") will help, but fixing the problem requires a nuanced understanding. With very rare exceptions, people are scared of HIV.
posted by Tlogmer at 2:04 AM on March 18, 2005


Kill the parasite as soon as possible. If I had it, kill me.
posted by Dean Keaton at 2:11 AM on March 18, 2005


I really don't see the link to meth. It doesn't seem to be the transmission vector, just something that makes people stupid. It really does not seem like a particularly relevant detail in either of those articles. Why is it being given so much attention?

Meth doesn't just allow people to make bad choices, it also allows them to have sex for extended periods of time. It also, and this is less easy to quantify, sets a kind of life tone. Not for a one-time or casual user, but when you become a meth addict (which happens pretty easily) you are less likely to take care of yourself in other ways. Not only have your priorities changed, your sense of what is valuable in life (in a sort of metaphysical way) may also have changed. Finally, and this is always the way in which drugs form the worst vectors for STDs, meth addicts may trade sex for drugs or drug money. In that situation, using a condom is virtually impossible, even if you choose safe sex in all other venues.

I think the general problem of the happy, healthy AIDS patient is a difficult one. It sucks as a prevention message, although outside of the gay community I don't think that it has much impact. At the HIV clinic where I work, only gay patients (but of course not all gay patients by any means) seem to have received the message that HIV is no big deal. IVDU and heterosexual Black women are generally much more upset when they receive their diagnosis. I'm not sure why the message has been specific like that. On the other hand, it is a very necessary message for people to get once they are positive because it helps so much with treatment. HIV meds are tough to take, and even tougher to take correctly. Patients really need to feel positive about thier outcomes so that they are willing to undergo the treatments that remind them that they have AIDS every day. I'm not sure what to do about the situation, because I think the message causes harm, and that it helps.
posted by OmieWise at 3:39 AM on March 18, 2005


Another point:

I think it's worth asking, especially for the gay community, why prevention messages seemed to work for a while and now seem to have stopped working. Michael Warner, in The Trouble with Normal, suggests that the difference between the start of the epidemic and now is the loss of a public sex culture in gay, and therefore American, life. He argues that the gay community has moved toward the center, culturally, and that this can be seen in the major issue of the day, the fight for gay marriage. Warner, who is gay, argues that this has been disastrous for an inclusive and safe community; that the people still having unprotected and promiscuous sex are in a very real sense at the margins of gay culture; that the leaders are interested in a kind of general recognition that sells out the people most at risk for contracting HIV.

There are some parts of his book that I agree with, and others that I don't, but I do think that we have to start really wondering what has changed and how it has changed if we're going to reinvigorate HIV prevention.
posted by OmieWise at 3:47 AM on March 18, 2005


Obviously, the message is failing because HIV no longer seems to be a death sentence. Or people are stupid, and throwing more money at the issue is futile.

Separately, it's really bizarre that there's a transgender person (who looks like a man in drag, but I'll assume has had a hardware modification) on an HIV awareness ad in the the NYC subways these days; "HIVSTOPSWITHME.ORG" or something.

It certainly would!
posted by ParisParamus at 5:00 AM on March 18, 2005


AlexReynolds:

Yes, a small minority of gay men both use speed and bareback. But that's a small minority. [snip] The problem is that the straight masses either cannot or will not make this distinction.

I make the distinction, but what does it matter? I expect it's a small minority of black males on the down low, but what does it matter? A small minority is enough to keep the virus passing around and epidemic going, so that it remains a deadly threat to all. Thanks a lot, you small minority... of mass murderers. How can you, any of you, tolerate such behavior? How can you worry that any tangential problem like these reports reinforce more of the same long-seated insecurities Americans have about gay people is important, compared to the need to cut down on the deaths?
posted by jfuller at 6:13 AM on March 18, 2005


jfuller, you want us to hunt them down and kill them? put them in a camp? what?

these are adults and will do what they want. what's most important is educating EVERYONE (because you never know) in proper sex ed. there always has been and always will be those that don't practice it, but at least everyone will know how to protect themselves.
posted by amberglow at 6:22 AM on March 18, 2005


The ignorance of people on HIV / AIDS, the way they fearfully lip-synch the medical establishment's codified warnings, is tragicomic.

A diet of multiple crazy sex partners and crystal use triggers immune breakdown. It is not a function of a supervirus. It makes sense.

The prescription of AZT to people who have suffered immune deficiencies triggers immune breakdown. It is not a function of a supervirus. It makes sense.

Now, if you people will stop yammering about what you know not, we who have lived through it (personally, not through a victim-proxy or via hospitals) will forge ahead.

There's your trail. Send 'em.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 7:50 AM on March 18, 2005


And by the way 'Dean Keaton'...I believe you're already infected.

Sorry about that, but you know, reincarnation is real. No, really.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 8:00 AM on March 18, 2005


Interesting thread, but I'm also thrown off a bit by the meth connection--doesn't weed make you do stupid things (speaking from personal experience) as well? I've never done meth, but is it really that Viagra-like?

And I agree with the cogent points re: AIDS in the US vs. AIDS in Africa. Structurally different problems.
posted by bardic at 8:02 AM on March 18, 2005


I don't think it is as much that the message on HIV is failing as it is that other messages are more obvious and more pervasive. First, I think that we're pulling back in sex education; otherwise, why would abstinence-only programs even be discussed and debated at this point? There is still an attitude that the more kids know about sex, the more likely they'll get into trouble. At the same time, adults and kids share the same popular culture, and thus at all ages we get the same sexual messages (most often which avoid consequences) via advertising and entertainment, which toss in heaping expectations for instant gratification. Our culture is oversexed and perpetually horny, and generally we still can't speak intelligently about sex. Our choices are the come-on and the punch line.

I'm not downplaying the importance of educational programs and efforts to combat the spread of HIV. I just think the situation culturally becomes more and more stacked against them.
posted by troybob at 8:11 AM on March 18, 2005


A major reason that the safe(r)-sex message is failing in the gay community is boredom. Faggots are very easily bored people; always on to the next new club, new shoes, new drink, new fuck. It may be a stereotype, but 1) it's a stereotype for a reason, and 2) there is a huge intersection between that group, and the group that doesn't bother with safe(r) sex.

Moreover, gay men in general, especially younger ones, are all about instant gratification and lack of accountability. Why bother thinking about whether you'll be dead in ten years when some hot thing wants to shove his uncovered cock up your ass?

Even further, the whole idea of barebacking has become cool. And a large part of the blame for that I put squarely in the hands of HIV/AIDS agencies everywhere. For far too long there has been an attitude of 'we must respect everyone's sexual choices'; harm reduction is the order of the day. With all due respect, that is utter bullshit.

Harm reduction works w/r/t drugs, sure. It does not, demonstrably, work w/r/t a terminal disease that can be spread to a lot fo people astonishingly easily. The gay community as a whole, and HIV/AIDS agencies and educators, need to stand up and have the courage of their convictions: Fucking without a condom is fucking stupid, you fucking moron.

Yes, to forestall those who will jump on this, there are exceptions. Like my friend who was in a monogamous relationship for over a decade. Contracted HIV because he and his husband (understandably) weren't using condoms, and the husband decided that extracurricular activities would be a good idea. Drug users who are in the grips of an addiction. And so forth.

But the number of fags I know--and young ones, which just breaks my heart--who choose to not use condoms as a matter of course? Sorry, but you made your bed, now lie in it. I'm not paying for your fucking meds because you decided it was worth dying to have a condomless fuck.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:01 AM on March 18, 2005


Harm reduction works w/r/t drugs, sure. It does not, demonstrably, work w/r/t a terminal disease that can be spread to a lot fo people astonishingly easily.

Harm reduction does work, and works well. Most gay men are NOT infected with HIV, which shows that it works. I want to see studies on whether more people are barebacking or not compared to 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, etc. I think the number hasn't changed much. It wasn't new to have people having unsafe sex during the eighties--it's not new now.
posted by amberglow at 11:31 AM on March 18, 2005


Empirical evidence seems to suggest it's hugely on the rise. That, or people just aren't hiding it anymore.

Still, HIV/AIDS agencies and educators need to start taking a harsher approach. "Stop fucking without a condom" would be a good start.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:36 AM on March 18, 2005


I would like to call for a flag and have done so myself for dirtynumbangelboy's profanity and hate terms in his first post. I found it to be unpleasant in language and although unflaggable; pretty cheap in content.

AIDS is a tough diesease to catch. Unprotected; it only has a transmission rate of around 10%.
Promiscuity keeps it alive, as does it longevity. It is not like a 48 hour cold virus; it is the to term death virus.

And there are communities on the web of people that actually WANT to go positive. Seriously; what a license to free love once you know you are already going to die? Positive? Yeah, you too? Sure, lets bump it up and get it on.... ??? Excuse me? How can a disease be stopped when people desire to perpetuate it?
posted by buzzman at 11:39 AM on March 18, 2005


Um, buzzman, in case you missed the news... I'm as gay as Paris in the springtime, and see this shit go on every day.

Further, I'm of the extremely firm opinion that anyone who has consciously chosen to contract HIV--the term, by the way, is 'bug chasers'; poz people in those communities are known as 'gift givers' (pardon me while I vomit)--has forfeited their right to have their medication paid for by the government, by their insurance, or indeed by anything other than out of their own damn pockets.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:32 PM on March 18, 2005


buzzman:
Eww... there are online communities that want to go positive?
That kind of material sounds weird and "out-there" enough to deserve it's own mefi submit!
Or at least a link.
posted by archae at 12:34 PM on March 18, 2005


Also, it's not just promiscuity that keeps the disease going. There's homophobia--evidenced not only by the 'down-low' African-American men, but also by the scores of married men who like to have a bit of a boy on the side. A lot of HIV/AIDS education doesn't really reach them, or they prefer to have condomless sex for other reasons. And they certainly can't suddenly start wearing condoms with their wives.

There's also fear. Fear of rejection, fear of losing some sort of affection. Example: I know this 16yo kid, we'll call him Josh. His ex-boyfriend, knowing full well that he was HIV positive, tried to persuade him to have sex without condoms. Josh stood up for himself and refused, and then went through six months of hell making sure he hadn't been accidentally exposed anyway. But not all people--especially not all teenagers--have the kind of strength to say that to their lover. Someone else very close to me, when he came out, dove right into a relationship with a somewhat older man.. who persuaded him not to use condoms at all. He was very lucky to walk away from that relationiship negative.

The horror stories go on and on. A large part of why I despise so many of my fellow homos is the casual and cruel way they simply refuse to care about, or accept any responsibility for, the health and well-being of the people around them.

On preview, archae:

http://gaylife.about.com/cs/healthfitness/g/bugchaser.htm
http://www.thestranger.com/2003-01-30/savage.html
http://ubb1.ultimatebareback.com/help/bugterms.asp
http://www.advocate.com/html/stories/884/884_chasers.asp

There's a few to start with.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:44 PM on March 18, 2005


(As an aside, one thing I find interesting about the whole bugchaser movement is that this only occurs with HIV. Nobody has eroticized, say, syphilis. Or gonorrhea.)
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:45 PM on March 18, 2005


How can you worry that any tangential problem like these reports reinforce more of the same long-seated insecurities Americans have about gay people is important, compared to the need to cut down on the deaths?

Jfuller, the MSM loves to give attention to junkie fags because straight people tune in and ratings go up, but the MSM ignores the larger epidemiological and sociological questions about the whys for the spread of HIV among Americans and human beings as a whole.

We've got a fundamentalist Christian president who, like a petulant child, shouts down the demonstrated science of condom use in favor of demonstrated failure of abstinence. And he hates the gays anyway, unless they're campaign contributors.

We've got a rash of young black women whose DL partners are cheating on them, infecting them with HIV, because the African American community can't come to grips with the fact that some brothers and sisters might be homosexual.

We've got Big Pharma and MSM promoting the use of AIDS drugs as a way to "manage" the disease in the name of profits, using very shady marketing techniques that border on outright lying.

Abstinence is certainly out of the question for horny youngsters. So young gay men and women see all this shit, the last item in particular, and think that getting AIDS will either happen to someone else, someone of a different color, someone poorer -- and even if they do contract the disease, modern medicine will bail them out and they will continue to live the fabulous rainbow.

I just don't think these reports do any service to larger and more pressing issues that cause HIV rates to go up.
posted by AlexReynolds at 12:58 PM on March 18, 2005


(As an aside, one thing I find interesting about the whole bugchaser movement is that this only occurs with HIV. Nobody has eroticized, say, syphilis. Or gonorrhea.)

Someone else's slow death is dramatic and romantic, from the distance of time. On a cynical day I might blame some gay artists for helping blur the damage done.
posted by AlexReynolds at 1:01 PM on March 18, 2005


True. I suppose insanity isn't glamourous. Slowly coughing your life away with pneumocystis carinii, while KS ravages your face, and opportunistic infections jump hither and yon through your body.. well, now that's some glamour.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:13 PM on March 18, 2005


I agree the media and Gay Health programs need to stop promoting AIDS as a treatable disease. It is not. It is a long slow death sentence... but also:

Yes, a small minority of gay men both use speed and bareback. But that's a small minority. Maybe not that many gay men use speed or what ever - but the numbers defy this notion that gay men are using condoms as they should. Even IF only 10% of Gay men are deliberately barebacking it's the number of PARTNERS they go through creates the exponential infection problem.

Moreover, gay men in general, especially younger ones, are all about instant gratification and lack of accountability.
You just described 80% of the worlds male population under 25.

...fundamentalist Christian president who, like a petulant child... As BIG an asshole as Bush is, nobody should blame him. It is NOT Bush's fault that gay men are not using condoms and that gay men are dying. People by now KNOW what transmits AIDs.

Yes. It is Gay Men's fault that Gay Men get AIDs. No more mincing words. Dan Savage is right.
posted by tkchrist at 2:09 PM on March 18, 2005


It's not something that should be blamed. When 2 adults have sex, they have to use condoms or face the consequences--either a kid for straight people, or AIDS or another STD for them and us. That's not a fault thing or a blame thing.

It's about responsibility--personal and interpersonal--not blame. Faulting and Blaming just drive more people to act irresponsibly and recklessly.
posted by amberglow at 2:20 PM on March 18, 2005


And it doesn't matter how angry or sickened or saddened you are by people acting irresponsibly--that won't make them start acting responsibly, but the opposite.
posted by amberglow at 2:23 PM on March 18, 2005


If I were to dislike my fellow homos for anything, it is for trying to build an entire lifestyle around one's sexuality. I don't mean sex and dating and relationships--I mean an entire lifestyle, of which those elements are merely a part. Perhaps part of the problem is that for many gays, this becomes the primary form of identity...and if you identify yourself primarily by your sexual activity, then sex takes on an exaggerated sense of importance. I've known straight people who define themselves foremost as sexual beings, and i think they tend to be incredibly boring (and often as unsafe and irresponsible) to those not of the same preoccupation.

That said, I don't dislike my fellow homos. And I think it is wrong to ascribe to all those who are gay the qualities that one finds in the gay ghetto. Yes, it exists here in San Francisco, and many who come here for comfort or tradition or brotherhood often get locked into it. Some thrive, but from what I've seen personally, it's a fairly sad existence. I would argue that the vast majority of gays are people who, by necessity or by geography or by desire, live their lives as human and aren't so consumed by their sexuality. So if you're going to say, for instance, something like ...gay men in general, especially younger ones, are all about instant gratification and lack of accountability..., it would be nice if you could qualify that by saying that you are attempting to speak for a quite limited segment of gay society that perhaps merely reflects the quality of company you keep.

Further, I don't understand how you would condemn gays for what is a societal problem. Many people are seeking instant gratification. Most people, even. It is the road we are on. Our hyper-consumer culture simply isn't consisent with impulse control. There's nothing out there with an ounce of fun that a segment of the population will not carry to some addiction-like extreme. Obesity is a public health issue that looks to only get worse. Alcoholism, drug addiction, and overeating are all public health problems that bring harm to people as well as those involved with them--including death. I would no more condemn someone who is infected by HIV through carelessness than I would someone with any other of these problems. The psychology of it is far too complex not to eventually blame any of us for the problem as a whole. As I tried to say before, you can't ramp up sexual frustration/desire/appetite for certain purposes and then realistically expect that everyone can suppress it for other purposes, even when carrying through is dangerous or deadly.

Bushies haven't merely turned their backs on logical ways to educate against HIV infection--they've turned their backs on science and rationality as a whole. Pharmaceutical companies don't merely lie about AIDS drugs--they lie about everything, and with their ability to advertise, they lie even more than ever. So if you're attempting to find blame, you'd best cast a wide net.
posted by troybob at 2:32 PM on March 18, 2005


Spot-on with all of that, troybob. I think a problem for many gay people, especially young gay people (well, I have this problem anyway, maybe it's just where I live) is that it's often the case that if you're not part of the "sexuality-focused" community you won't meet other gay people. The lack of integration and openness in our society about homosexuality makes it difficult to meet and hang out with gay kids if you're not in a gay-specific arena, so people end up relying on these things and thus a sexuality-specific life to engage in some semblance of a relationship with another person.

Not that this is an excuse for the irresponsible behavior, though.
posted by schroedinger at 2:55 PM on March 18, 2005


It's not something that should be blamed. When 2 adults have sex, they have to use condoms or face the consequences. That's not a fault thing or a blame thing.

It's about responsibility--personal and interpersonal--not blame. Faulting and Blaming just drive more people to act irresponsibly and recklessly.


You just said pretty much nothing. When people are HIV positive and KNOWINGLY have unprotected sex that is attempted manslaughter - just in slow motion (if not out and out murder).

Yes. I blame them.

We don't have this silly "let's not blame" attitude about any other dangerous and victimizing behavior.

When a drunk driver runs over my mom "blaming" him and forcing him to a standard of law and behavior deemed socially acceptable how else we gonna hold him responsible and accountable. Why should HIV positive Gay men be any different? Because they are gay?
posted by tkchrist at 3:26 PM on March 18, 2005


I think the appropriate analogy would be that a drunk driver ran over your mom after she got him drunk and gave him the car keys and stood in front of the car.

This is because, in a situation that is not rape, the only safe assumption is that the person you are having sex with is infected, and thus it is the responsibility of both parties to use some kind of protection.
posted by troybob at 3:38 PM on March 18, 2005


...how you would condemn gays for what is a societal problem

I am condemning gays? Typical. See that's where this always goes. No, I am condemning ASSHOLES (no pun) who happen to be gay.

And it seems that it is largely other gay people who are having sex with these assholes. It doesn't matter how many there are or how often they do it or why. They do do it and they are gay and people are dying. And mincing words, wringing hands and PC bullshit is not helping

Logically, holding the greater gay community — that not only shields these assholes from shame and accountability but is also victimized by them — partially responsible, makes sense.

And this makes sense if your interested in actually saving lives instead protecting peoples "feelings". God forbid we hurt a murders feelings, huh?

Alcoholism, drug addiction, and overeating are all public health problems that bring harm to people as well as those involved with them--including death.

Exceptionally poor rationalizing. Alcoholics and drug addicts that KILL people go to jail, right? And how on earth do people who overeat kill other frigg'n people? Again I cannot believe what I read here.

Once again the swan song of "it's everybody else fault"? I simply have to call bullshit.
posted by tkchrist at 3:46 PM on March 18, 2005


What troybob said. Consenting sex between adults is a risky thing to begin with, even before AIDS existed. If you willingly have sex with anyone at anytime, straight or gay, you have to take responsibility for your own safety. This is not about placing blame, or punishing--at least, it shouldn't be.

We don't do a lot of things, nor should we. We don't stop people with any other STD from having sex--and some of those STDs make you or the partner sterile, or can kill you too. Why treat AIDS differently?
posted by amberglow at 3:48 PM on March 18, 2005


start rounding up everyone with syphilis, and gonorrhea, and every other STD that kills, then, tk--you'll have to have mandatory tests of the entire population, and have cattlecars and camps ready. I'm thinking it'll be at least a million people, if not much more.
posted by amberglow at 3:55 PM on March 18, 2005


I think the appropriate analogy would be that a drunk driver ran over your mom after she got him drunk and gave him the car keys and stood in front of the car.

This is because, in a situation that is not rape, the only safe assumption is that the person you are having sex with is infected, and thus it is the responsibility of both parties to use some kind of protection.


While I agree to some degree that still leaves the "infector" pretty much off the hook for any responsibility.

C'mon now, that kind of thing don't hold up in paternity suits why should it when the stakes are infinitely higher?

Let me put it this way: Let's just go on doing what were doing. Make promiscuous HIV positive Gays the puppy-eyed helpless victims, have aids walks and rock concerts, blithely continue to make AIDS infections everybody else's responsibility. From the Pharmo corps, the government, to the straight community.

And see what the mortality numbers are in 10 years. Who you gonna blame then?
posted by tkchrist at 4:02 PM on March 18, 2005


your bigotry is clouding your reason, tk.
posted by amberglow at 4:04 PM on March 18, 2005


We don't do a lot of things, nor should we. We don't stop people with any other STD from having sex--and some of those STDs make you or the partner sterile, or can kill you too. Why treat AIDS differently?

AAAAAAAH! Fer Christ sake! Because most of the other STD illnesses are curable or at least sincerely treatable and are NOT guaranteed 98% fatal! AIDS is not. That is the BIG lie.

It's matter of intensity, population concentration and frequency, IE: straight people not involved in prostitution rarely have partners numbering in the hundreds per year like many gay men. Do the math. The sheer likelihood that unintentional infection occurs due to just odds.

BTW. There was a time people WERE held financially and legally accountable for knowingly spreading an STD.
posted by tkchrist at 4:11 PM on March 18, 2005


Uh, actually, amberglow, I think it's your reason that's clouded. Someone who is HIV positive and knows it is responsible for, at the very least, informing anyone they play with. This whole cutlture of victimhood, of not making people take responsibility for their own actions, is bullshit.

The connection to paternity suits is, in my mind, an extremely apt one. In such a suit, the father is liable. So why is someone that infects someone else with HIV--we'll only go with people who know they're poz, for the sake of this argument--not held similarly liable?

On preview, 'hundreds per year' is a bit of an exaggeration, tkchrist, but for a very, very small minority of the community.

Amberglow, bringing in the gonorrhea/etc argument is just setting up a straw man. Gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis are very easily treated diseases. Herpes is a manageable condition which is not life-threatening. HIV/AIDS is a different kettle of fish entirely, and it behooves you to treat it as such. You're smarter than this.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:18 PM on March 18, 2005


...start rounding up everyone with syphilis, and gonorrhea, and every other STD that kills, then, tk--you'll have to have mandatory tests of the entire population, and have cattlecars and camps ready. I'm thinking it'll be at least a million people, if not much more.

LOL. That's what I said? You have a flair for the melodramatic.

One can always tell when people are getting over-emotional and losing a debate by how soon they make you a "nazi" in the inevitable "concentration camp" scenario.

I was gonna compare you to Stalin and Mao next. Then it really get's fun.

our bigotry is clouding your reason, tk.

LOL. It was only a matter of time. Yeah that's it. MY bigotry. Call me names, now. Is this how you absolve your own guilt and complicity by calling ME a bigot. Dude, the truth is uncomfortable, I know. But facts are facts.

I actually want to save people lives. What I am saying DOES save lives. What you advocate is more death.

You want everybody else to change in some massive universal paradigm shift. Well. Guess what. They won't. But you can stop the people who are responsible from making more vicitms my holding THEM accountable. It's simply the only effective way. And you won't have to have a single concentration camp to do it, either. I promise.

You want "society" to change? Ok. Good luck with dat.

I'm done with this.
posted by tkchrist at 4:26 PM on March 18, 2005


On preview, 'hundreds per year' is a bit of an exaggeration, tkchrist, but for a very, very small minority of the community.

Ok. Dozens. How many straight people outside of Paris Hilton hit it that much? A survey was done byy our local Seattle alt rag and the gay male respondents had partners three or four times the average Het. You know this. God damnit if I was gay I would be too. Given that if I was gay and not as ugly as I am now.
posted by tkchrist at 4:32 PM on March 18, 2005


I don't see that anywhere in my argument I addressed the protection of anyone's feelings. I didn't say that someone who knowingly passes on HIV should not be held accountable. I pointed out that the fact that people continue to infect each other has societal root causes, and that it appears these causes are reversing the progress of HIV education; thus, I feel the 'failure' of HIV education (as addressed in the FPP) lies not necessarily with the education programs themselves, but with cultural forces they are not equipped to battle.

The fact that you commenced your arguments with the statement Faggots are very easily bored people...it's a stereotype for a reason would indicate that your intention was to speak of gays as a whole, not specifically the assholes within.

As I mentioned later on, I believe the responsibilities lie with those who are sexually involved with each other as far as preventing the spread of infection. When I say I do not condemn someone infected by carelessness (as you clearly do, indicating your lack of willingness to 'pay for' their meds), it is not because I would not want to hurt their feelings--indeed, the pain they will likely endure outweighs my judgment in any case--but because being human myself, I err on the side of having some compassion for people who make mistakes, as I have many times, that in their case turn out to be tragic. To blame or condemn them for the problem does not save lives. To understand why they would behave dangerously, even equipped with knowledge of the dangers of unprotected sex, might give us the tools we need to save others.

On obesity specifically: It is becoming epidemic, and this does affect the lives of others in the sense that medical resources utilized to treat its accompanying conditions are (and will be) diverted from other health issues (including AIDS); and on the more personal level, children of the obese are certainly at risk as they would, by example, mimic the eating patterns of their parents in terms of food choice and eating behaviors.
posted by troybob at 4:39 PM on March 18, 2005


Faggots are very easily bored people...it's a stereotype

Uh. I never said this. That was dirtynumbangelboy.
posted by tkchrist at 4:50 PM on March 18, 2005


and on the more personal level, children of the obese are certainly at risk as they would, by example, mimic the eating patterns of their parents in terms of food choice and eating behaviors.

You really think "...here eat this cupcake and in 60-70 years, if you don't reverse your behaviors, you may die of an obesity related illness." holds any similar culpability to somebody knowingly exposing sex partners to AIDS? Get out of here!?

BTW. Blame and condemn are two very different things. Yes we SHOULD blame people who are spreading AIDS for fucking spreading AIDS. This thread is simply surreal.

Ok. Now I'm REALLY done.
posted by tkchrist at 4:58 PM on March 18, 2005


I actually want to save people lives. What I am saying DOES save lives. What you advocate is more death.
No, what you're doing is punishing, and i guess, jailing and/or quarantining. That's not what free societies do to people with diseases--not anymore at least.

You want "society" to change? Ok. Good luck with dat.
No, it's you who wants society to change. I accept that there are always irresponsible people in the world. There's no punishing needed. There's only each of us taking care of ourselves as much as we can. And educating each other continually and in new ways. No blame, no punishment, no stigma, no prejudice.

What you're saying can only lead to camps or jail. Think about it.
posted by amberglow at 5:01 PM on March 18, 2005


You think you're saving people, but at what cost? You think you're protecting people, but at what cost? We can't afford your solution--not now, not ever. Individuals have rights--HIV+ or not. Don't ever forget that. Adults make choices--sometimes smart, sometimes stupid or suicidal. That's their right too.
posted by amberglow at 5:06 PM on March 18, 2005


tkchrist >>> BTW. Blame and condemn are two very different things. Yes we SHOULD blame people who are spreading AIDS for fucking spreading AIDS. This thread is simply surreal.

I agree, wholeheartedly.

It doesn't have to lead to camps, amber. But I don't see how knowingly infecting someone with HIV shouldn't lead to jail. It's manslaughter, at the very least. Your right to be suicidal stops where my life begins.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:11 PM on March 18, 2005


Doh! yeah, post confusion...sorry about that

actually, my initial statment ...how you would condemn gays for what is a societal problem was directed at dirtynumbangelboy...i should have used his name in particular when i mentioned that...and then you picked it up and responded to it as if it were directed toward you, and so when you opened your post with that statement (that's where this always goes), i read the post as being from him...

my fault for poor documentation in my thread...
posted by troybob at 5:17 PM on March 18, 2005


It doesn't have to lead to camps, amber. But I don't see how knowingly infecting someone with HIV shouldn't lead to jail. It's manslaughter, at the very least. Your right to be suicidal stops where my life begins.

If you consent to have sex with someone and don't protect yourself, then it's not right to blame the partner, no matter what disease they have or don't have. It's not their actions--It's your responsibililty to take care of yourself. It's not a crime to have sex, disease or no. Nor should it be.
posted by amberglow at 5:25 PM on March 18, 2005


It's not their actions, nor their status--It's your responsibility.
posted by amberglow at 5:26 PM on March 18, 2005


And there's no way to stop people from having sex short of locking them up. And what would you do when a person infected with one strain has unprotected sex with a person who has another? Lock them both up? Prosecute them both? Get real.
posted by amberglow at 5:29 PM on March 18, 2005


And how on earth do people who overeat kill other frigg'n people?

You really think "...here eat this cupcake and in 60-70 years, if you don't reverse your behaviors, you may die of an obesity related illness." holds any similar culpability to somebody knowingly exposing sex partners to AIDS?

Who said anything about the degree of culpability? You asked how on earth? and i told you how on earth.

Children are dying of obesity-related illness by the way. And it's going to get worse.

It's a good illustration, though: Do you think the fact that you are not sufficiently educated on this major public health concern, despite its wide coverage in the press, might resemble somewhat the lack of effectiveness of HIV education?
posted by troybob at 5:29 PM on March 18, 2005


amberglow >>> If you consent to have sex with someone and don't protect yourself, then it's not right to blame the partner, no matter what disease they have or don't have. It's not their actions--It's your responsibililty to take care of yourself. It's not a crime to have sex, disease or no. Nor should it be.

Alright, so in paternity lawsuits, the father in question shouldn't be held liable? The parallels between the two situations are striking.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:39 PM on March 18, 2005


I don't think they should be held liable unless it was coerced, rape, or failure of birth control used.

I think all adults have to take responsibility--women should use birth control, men should use birth control. all sexually active people have to be responsible. what was the sexual revolution and women's lib fight all about but control over their own bodies?
posted by amberglow at 6:43 PM on March 18, 2005


I was just watching the new season the Shield, and the police chief threatened an HIV positive prostitute with a manslaughter/murder(cant remember) charge if they picked her up prostituting again.
Is that just total fiction?
posted by Iax at 8:15 PM on March 18, 2005


Hey, condoms are hardly a 100% safety solution. One can not make an informed decision to take part in a sex act if import, life-affecting information (ie. "I'm HIV positive") is not provided. The victim can not be 100% responsible if not 100% informed.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:18 PM on March 18, 2005


One certainly can make an informed decision--the other person's status is of no concern--taking care of yourself is.
posted by amberglow at 8:25 PM on March 18, 2005


Related: ... The latest study, published in the April issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that teens pledging virginity until marriage are more likely to have oral and anal sex than other teens who have not had intercourse. That behavior, however, "puts you at risk," said Hannah Brueckner, assistant professor of sociology at Yale and one of the study's authors.

Among virgins, boys who have pledged abstinence were four times more likely to have had anal sex, according to the study. Overall, pledgers were six times more likely to have oral sex than teens who have remained abstinent but not as part of a pledge.

The pledging group was also less likely to use condoms during their first sexual experience or get tested for STDs, the researchers found. ...
posted by amberglow at 9:16 PM on March 18, 2005


Amberglow, do you defend those who lie about their HIV+ status? Or is it simply those who refuse to reveal it? Your talks of camps and kids engaging in risky behavior have nothing to do with the fundamental issue: people who have HIV+ knowingly infecting others with it. That is bad. How bad depends on the case. But it is bad. And we should make it very clear to people who do it that it is bad and they will be punished for doing it. Dan Savage's 50% of the drug costs thing seems like a pretty good idea for those bastards who feel like they've got no responsibility in looking out for their unsuspecting partners.
posted by schroedinger at 10:52 AM on March 19, 2005


I think that penalty should apply for all undisclosed sexual diseases. Those who don't disclose prevente their partners from making a fully informed decision. When it comes to something as serious as an STD, that is entirely unconscionable. In all honesty, I figure it should be legally actionable.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:49 PM on March 19, 2005


But it is bad. And we should make it very clear to people who do it that it is bad and they will be punished for doing it.

Punished how? How will you know someone lied? he said--he said? How will this be determined? What if someone is drunk and doesn't want to have safer sex? What if someone is high and forgets to put a rubber on? What if the sex happens in a car, or an alley or a party? Who's going to become the sex police to enforce anything like punishment? Will we mark people who are positive so that everyone knows? How is this feasible? Everyone who has unsafe sex will go to court when they find out they're positive? or when they find out they have an STD? We'll haul all their partners into court too? It's no longer their responsibility but something they can blame on someone else as if they had no part of the matter? Bullshit.
posted by amberglow at 6:13 PM on March 19, 2005


If I were considering hooking up with another partner, their STD status would be one of the most important factors in my decision.

How am I to make a responsible decision if I am not informed of their STD status? If they lie about it?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:29 PM on March 19, 2005


How can you possibly ever ever be sure of anyone's STD status, barring visible signs? People lie all the time--their word means nothing. If you have sex, you have to protect yourself first and always.
posted by amberglow at 7:58 PM on March 19, 2005


AAAAAAAH! Fer Christ sake! Because most of the other STD illnesses are curable or at least sincerely treatable and are NOT guaranteed 98% fatal! AIDS is not. That is the BIG lie.

True "most" are curable; but all the hepatitidies that are sexually transmittted, herpes, HPV (#1 cause of cervical cancer) and HIV are not, and they can all be devastating and some are, yes, DEADLY. HPV causes AS MANY deaths per year in women as HIV.

Amberglow, bringing in the gonorrhea/etc argument is just setting up a straw man. Gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis are very easily treated diseases. Herpes is a manageable condition which is not life-threatening.

No straw man at all. If your mom gets herpes while you're in utero (3rd trimester), you might have herpes for life. Gonorrhea/chlamydia/syphilis are easily treatable, but if they're not, they can lead to INFERTILITY, or DEATH. Yes, death. Those STDs also increase the chances of getting HIV by 2-5 times. Think about that - havng syphilis makes you ~4 times more likely or transmit or get HIV. Fun!

Having CT/GC/herpes gives you a 2-5 times higher chance of getting/giving HIV. Think STDs don't affect HIV? Think again. "Open sores are open doors" for transmission, my friends.

How can you possibly ever ever be sure of anyone's STD status, barring visible signs? People lie all the time--their word means nothing. If you have sex, you have to protect yourself first and always.

Right - you can't tell. The #1 most common symptom of STD is NO SYMPTOM. Most STD incidence is asymptomatic, consider that. And it's not about lying: MOST PEOPLE WHO HAVE AN STD DON'T KNOW THAY HAVE AN STD. STDS INCREASE HIV TRANSMISSION RISK ACROSS THE BOARD. (Disclosure: I'm an STD educator)
posted by tristeza at 8:40 PM on March 19, 2005


And many people with STDs don't even know they have them.
posted by amberglow at 8:51 PM on March 19, 2005


oops---but worth repeating anyway. : >
posted by amberglow at 8:51 PM on March 19, 2005


I believe the question was in regards to people who know that their HIV status is positive.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:08 AM on March 21, 2005


It turns out that the stats aren't proven at all--from Andrew Sullivan (who i don't like)-- It's quite striking. New diagnoses of HIV have declined each year. The most comprehensive data is for first quarters of each year (they haven't gotten past reporting the first quarter of 2004 yet). So look at this: in the first quarter of 2002, we have 1403 new diagnoses; in Q1 2003, we have 1288; in Q1 2004, we have 908. So we have a 35 percent decrease in HIV diagnoses in New York City in three years. That's not AIDS diagnoses (although they're down too). This is HIV infection data. When the infections are broken down into subcategories, the numbers in the first quarters of 2002, 2003 and 2004 of HIV infections among men who have sex with men declines from 327 in 2002 to 344 in 2003 to 277 in 2004: an annual decline from 2003 to 2004 of almost 20 percent. Maybe the "apparent upsurge" has taken place since the beginning of 2004. But I see no reason why this big decline would suddenly reverse itself. More importantly, Cohen has no and had no evidence to write what he did, and using it to, in his words, "condemn" gay men in New York City whom he holds responsible for a new epidemic. Cohen needs to write a correction and an apology for non-existent reporting. Petrelis also sends an email to the NYT suggesting they run a story on this great news - especially since their science writer, Lawrence Altman has been writing scare stories for five years. If the NYT can run five consecutive scare stories on a not-new strain of HIV, they can surely run some actual facts about the subject.

dirtynumb, that's a tiny percentage of people. i'd love to see real stats on just how many HIV+ men purposely infect others.
posted by amberglow at 11:55 AM on March 26, 2005


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