Sunday, January 16, 2011

AIDS, Gays and Hate

Recently on CNN, Larry Kramar shared a rather... interesting viewpoint on AIDS.  Sadly, as seen in the comments section - his opinion spurned more hatred from both sides of the viewpoint than it did anything else.

The preface to the story acts as if his comments are facts, stating they are "realities".  He also labels what he thinks people think as an indisputable fact, that "we" didn't want to know the truth.  I could dispute it, since before I even began to think about sex, I wanted to be safe.  His comments in centered italics, my rebuttals after. 
1. AIDS is a plague -- numerically, statistically and by any definition known to modern public health -- though no one in authority has the guts to call it one.
Numbers do not define illness or plague.  More people die from heart disease (which is less preventable but still possible) than suffer total from AIDS.  Plagues cannot be stopped with education and thorough testing. 

(Continues after jump) 

2. Too many people hate the people that AIDS most affects, gay people and people of color. I do not mean dislike, or feel uncomfortable with. I mean hate. Downright hate. Down and dirty hate.

 I watched several good friends and family friends die of AIDS, including gay and straight.  I do not HATE anyone in this world without their own causation.  Several who died were aware that it was related to their poor choices in life (2 promiscuous, 1 drug related).  They never pointed fingers; they never felt they had to.  They knew they could have prevented it.  Some studies show that as low as .5% of infected cases (both new and old) are through accidents, such as a tainted needle, blood transfusions and other medical accidents.
3. Likewise, both people who don't have sex the way they do (if they have it at all) and people who take drugs in order to feel better in a world that they find wretched are considered two highly expendable populations by the powerful forces that control this world.

I was abused, beaten, tossed away and more than one can possibly imagine.  I made the conscious choice NOT to do drugs.  By blaming society or whatever you choose, it’s an excuse, not a cause.  Anything else said is a cop-out and you are perpetuating the hatred people feel for those who turn to drugs to “ease” the wretched world.  There are millions of people with heartbreaking stories, of those people - most go on to lead productive lives in society.  How is it, that it's only people who got AIDS are the ones with licenses to do drugs, in essence, ruining their lives to begin with?  Then to expect me to pity the person who turns to drugs, who got infected by poor standards of attaining the drugs?
4. AIDS was allowed to happen. It is a plague that need not have happened. It is a plague that could have been contained from the very beginning.

Yes, it was allowed by those who WERE educated and still refused to take precaution or steps to prevent it or prevent spreading it.  No one is expendable – I don’t believe that.  The problem is, those who got AIDS by promiscuity or drugs believed THEY were expendable.  Why is it my place to lift every single one of those to hero status if they didn’t care enough for themselves?  There were many, many, many theories on how to contain AIDS – and while you babble on about civil rights later in the piece, all those containment possibilites would have violated those very civil rights and ACLU would be even richer.  Branding, medical chipping, quarantine, etc. were all proposed, but shot down.  Lawyers would have had a field day in all the abilities to contain AIDS – education was the only method and given my young age of 27 and the fact that I grew up knowing (without a drop of it in schools early on) what AIDS was and what it could do, I made my choices wisely.  I had a few bisexual male lovers just as I had straight and I knew about condoms.  None of them got a pass.
5. It is a plague that is not going to go away. It is only going to get worse.

If it’s only going to get worse, then what’s the point of this article?  To complain?  The highest rates, by all accounts are among white, homosexual males.  Why not run to them to educate them instead of blaming others who see the issues from the outside because we don’t engage in the practices in which more than 98% of new cases are transmitted?  Looking at statistics from 2008 from just about any source you can imagine (feel free to Google Aids New Cases), the highest rate is still among gay men.  I am my brother's keeper, but not his babysitter.  Are we to start tailing all those who have AIDS?  No, it's not possible - what is possible?  Trying to educate and get those who are infected (of all races and sexualities) to STOP harmful actions to other people.

6. There is no cure and the amount of money expended toward finding one is pathetically small, miniscule, puny, and totally indicative of a system and a government and a country and a world that does not want to end this plague.

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s (a “white” illness), diabetes, and on and on and on.  Yet, throughout the world, AIDS-related research and funding is nearly 10 times the amount of the top 5 killers COMBINED.  The government funds more AIDS related funding in third world countries than the largest private contributor towards breast cancer.  Stop lying intentionally (or being so blind that you don’t care to research the other places medical funding goes and just stating what you want to as a fact).  AIDS, when combined with private research and government funding from all countries throughout the world receives several dollars to a single dollar over any other disease, with or without cures.  The current largest financier of AIDS related research in the world?  The U.S. Government.  From medical research grants, education drives in Africa and free condoms to education grants and prescription dispersion throughout the world, hundreds of billions is spent.  I'm sure anyone who has seen the decimation of funds for killers higher than AIDS-related, such as heart disease, breast cancer, and so on would love to get a solid 20% of that money.  And those, are unpreventable.  AIDS, is the only killer that is 100% preventable.
7. There is no incentive for pharmaceutical companies to find a cure since they are making billions selling, at highly inflated prices, the many anti-viral drugs that those infected must consume -- drugs that only keep us living but still infected just enough to continue to possibly still infect others.

Quite the opposite, the race to be the first pharma to cure AIDS would be a multi-trillion dollar payout, including the ability to patent.  With patents running out or already out, on Anti-virals, the slice is shared too many ways.  The one company that “reaches the moon first” – will rake in more than our government is in debt alone.  Is the price truly inflated?  By Kramar's argument, if there is so little money being funneled to AIDS research, than those coming up with the drugs aren’t being paid that great to create these life saving drugs – therefore the profit would be backend off the cost of the drug rather than the development right?  Shoe on the other foot a little tight?
8. Educational campaigns, indeed all attempts at prevention, have been too stupid, useless, lily-livered, and nicey-nicey to accomplish much of anything.

Educational campaigns I saw included an emaciated man, tubes everywhere in the early 90’s.  My generation, who grew up with AIDS saw Freddie Mercury's story.  How much should educational materials be costing then?  No one over the age of 12 doesn’t know about AIDS and of that, at least 80% (and I’m using the worst study found) knew the ways it could be transmitted.  That’s an incredible education rate, in fact, three times as high as those who knew who the VP of the US was.
9. There is no one of any use really in charge of this plague, in America or anywhere else in the world -- and it is a worldwide plague by now -- and this lack of decent, responsible and humane leaders has been so since its beginning in 1981. They lie to us. I consider most of those who have been or are in charge as equal to murderers.
How is anyone in charge of any medical malady?  Who’s in charge of dementia?  Who’s in charge of Alzheimer’s?  Who’s in charge of ovarian cancer?  I call bull and say YOU lie to us.  I consider most of your statements to be incite to riot, outright lies, and if nothing else besides inflammatory, completely and totally prejudiced against straight and uninfected people.
10. One out of every five men who have sex with men in America is now HIV-positive, and more than 50% of gay men do not know it. Doctors in Chelsea say the statistics for that New York neighborhood have jumped from one out of five to one out of four. At the rate things are going, almost all gay men in America could be HIV-positive, which a lot of people would really like to see happen.
So… it’s the straight man’s fault of hatred for not eradicating it, not funding research to prevent it, but it’s NOT a gay man’s fault (in those statistics) to be responsible for the transmission and testing for it?  Wow – is there anyone who is NOT gay left to blame in this entire rambling, blaming piece?  How about responsibility for one’s own actions?  You hold me (collectively) accountable – why can’t I hold you?

Oh that’s right, you are “gay” and therefore, your opinion is truth, but as a straight, white female who has seen the heartache of AIDS by different means (and adored and followed Ryan White’s story) means nothing to you – so… why should I care what you have to say or fund it – if I’m just going to be called a hateful, spiteful, controlling and ignorant… well, you know.  There are thousands of straight people of all races that care deeply about the way AIDS affects us.  But we cannot barge into people's bedrooms or drug dens.  (Both against the law, by the way.)  At some point in all these comments Kramar made, none involved personal responsibility.

If it comes down to being called hateful for placing value on the life of say.. a nun, versus a promiscuous drug addict, yes, I'd save the nun first.  If someone has terminal cancer and a child could be saved - I'd chose the child.  Not a single person, from any background with any sexual preference could logically argue against that.  I don't place dollars and cents on human life, but I do place value on those lives that have the highest potential to become of worth to society - and that includes hypocrites with no personal responsibility.

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