Vancouver
2 min

HIV prevention gone soft

Are the days of fighting like hell to prevent new HIV infections over?

HIV prevention is dead. Or is it just soundly sleeping? Either way something is amiss and there’s not nearly enough attention focused on remedying the situation.

Or is AIDS over? Rather, are gay men over AIDS?

I mean, have we just become inured to it? Have we become comfortable with the fact that while gay men make up only five percent of the population we represent 40 percent of new infections?

It seems like the days of fighting like hell to prevent new HIV infections are gone. Are we just tired?

Some folks suggest it’s time to take a break. That gay men have been battered and beaten down by sexuality-stifling, body- colonizing AIDS prevention efforts. That HIV prevention messages only serve to influence crystal meth use and condomless sex with strangers. That HIV prevention is driving new infections.

Others suggest that HIV prevention has gone soft.

That AIDS organizations have failed gay men by not taking a hard-line stance against behaviours that promote HIV transmission. That fear, shame and guilt are underutilized, thereby letting gay men off the hook.

And what about the accusations that gay men are suffering from apathy? From condom fatigue. That new generations of men haven’t been witness to the devastation of AIDS.

Is this just a way for public health and others to pass the buck? To shift the blame?

Whose responsibility is it to make sure there is an effective response to HIV in a community where AIDS is endemic?

Isn’t it everyone’s responsibility? Researchers, the medical establishment, government, public health, community organizations, businesses and gay men?

But none of this is going to happen until we take a greater interest and stop letting everyone off so easily.

Nothing is going to change until men get more involved than just supporting the work of caring for people already infected with HIV.

We need to revive the dream of preventing any new infections from ever occurring in the first place.

Far be it from me to go getting all self-righteous and indignant, but this shit is fucked up.

The amount of money spent by the BC government on HIV prevention for gay men does not even amount to the cost of providing lifelong care to one gay man infected with HIV.

Isn’t this fucked up? Is it just me? Where’s Susan Powter when you need her? Boys, it’s time to stop the insanity.

HIV is not inevitable in our communities. We don’t need to batter ourselves with HIV prevention efforts but we do need to keep trying to beat HIV.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, after all.