Volume 95, Issue 30

Thursday, October 25, 2001
 
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CAMPUS AND CULTURE

Searching for a new approach: The alternative side to living with HIV

HIV and AIDS: we need to start listening again

Treatment and prevention

HIV and AIDS: 
we need to start listening again

Probably Not
Matt Pearson
Deputy Editor


Do we know all there is to know about AIDS or have we just stopped listening?

When AIDS and HIV – the virus that causes AIDS – first emerged, information was scarce and there were no specific medications available to treat it. So little was known about it that, at the time, it was called GRID, which stood for Gay Related Immune Deficiency.

Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, certain groups responded to what they viewed as an epidemic, including the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), which organized chapters in major cities across the United States and created the popular rallying cry, "Silence = Death."

But as time passed, AIDS seemed to move to the back burner. Now, as we become accustomed to life in the 21st century, AIDS no longer seems to command the attention it once held and the attention it still deserves. It seems that, almost two decades after the first cases were reported in North America, there has been a shift in popular sentiment and AIDS has since fallen off the radar.

Perhaps we know everything about preventing the spread of the disease. Perhaps we think the "drug cocktails" are the cure we've all been looking for.

AIDS remains a crucial issue and safer sex education is paramount in preventing the spread of HIV.

Although the total number of positive HIV tests reported to the Centre for Infectious Disease Prevention and Control in Canada has been decreasing since 1996, there has been a noticeable increase in reported cases among heterosexual women and gay or bi-sexual men.

According to data from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, there has been a steady increase of HIV infection among gay men since the mid-1990s. There was a seven per cent increase in reported cases between 1999 and 2000 and a 34 per cent increase since 1996.

This fact has some AIDS groups worried.

The AIDS Committee of Toronto launched an aggressive advertising campaign this spring that targeted the gay community. The billboard ads spoof the well-known Marlboro Man cigarette ads, depicting two men in classically masculine poses with the caption, "Welcome to Condom Country. HIV is up in Toronto. Ride safely."

Perhaps people have become so optimistic about new HIV medications that they no longer see the disease as a death threat. Maybe the image of people "living with AIDS" has created a false sense of safety.

People may have grown tired of safer sex practices and wearing condoms and instead, are starting to assume their sexual partners are HIV negative without making sure.

Whatever the reason, we need to return part of our mainstream focus to the AIDS epidemic and the on-going promotion of safer sex practices. We need to be informed and stay informed.

We need to find a cure, because one thing is for sure with the AIDS epidemic, silence = death.


To Contact The Campus and Culture Department:
gazette.campus.culture@uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 2001