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Old 12-01-2006, 01:17 PM   #1
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HIV is a gay disease

so says a blunt, controversial ad campaign started by the Gay and Lesbian Center in Los Angeles:





[q]HIV Ads Embrace, and Stun, Audience
By Sharon Bernstein
Times Staff Writer

September 30, 2006

For 20 years, gay men have vigorously fought the contention that HIV is a disease of homosexuals.

But now, one of Southern California's most influential gay institutions has embarked on a controversial ad campaign with this stark declaration: "HIV is a gay disease."

With that message and the tag line "Own It. End It" on billboards and in magazines, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center says it is trying to reach legions of gay men who have become complacent about HIV and AIDS.

[q]FOR THE RECORD:
AIDS prevention ads: A Sept. 30 article in Section A said the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center had embarked on a controversial ad campaign with this stark declaration: "HIV is a gay disease," with the tag line "Own It. End It" on billboards and in magazines. The article should have made clear that the print ads, which appeared only in gay magazines, use all of that language; but the billboards —there are two, in West Hollywood -- say only "HIV," with the tagline, "Own it. End It."[/q]



The campaign is an abrupt departure from the years of hard politicking against the idea of AIDS as a gay plague, a characterization that many — including the Gay & Lesbian Center — had argued marginalized victims and made it hard to reach others who were at risk, including thousands of minority women who have become infected in recent years.

The ads have stunned some in the gay community and the AIDS services world, who recall the early years of the epidemic, when anti-gay clergy railed against the condition and little money was available for research or prevention.

Some AIDS counselors worry that the campaign could further stigmatize the disease, making women and heterosexual men less likely to come forward.

So much attention is being paid to minority women and others who are at risk that gay men — who still make up the majority of those infected in the United States and Western Europe — have developed a false sense of security, backers of the ads say.

The problem of AIDS apathy among gay and bisexual men is of particular concern on the West Coast, public health officials say, where the overwhelming majority of HIV transmission is among men engaging in sex with other men.

In Los Angeles County, about 75% of HIV cases are among men who have had sex with other men.

The L.A. infection count is somewhat at odds with data from other parts of the country — including several East Coast communities — where infection is spreading rapidly among women and intravenous drug users.

"A very alarming silence has descended over our community with regard to HIV and AIDS," said Lorri L. Jean, chief executive of the Gay & Lesbian Center.

"We believe that most people in our community do not understand the degree to which this epidemic continues to be in Los Angeles largely an epidemic among gay and bisexual men," she said.

The ad campaign has drawn sharp criticism from some in the trenches of the battle against HIV, particularly those who work closely with infected women.

"I applaud the desire to have more personal responsibility in the gay community, but this is not the way to achieve it," said Michael Weinstein, head of the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

He said that worldwide, it is increasingly heterosexuals who have become ill.

"AIDS is not a gay disease," Weinstein said. "It's not an African American disease; it's not a Latino disease. It is a disease of the immune system."

Nationwide, gay and bisexual men account for just 45% to 50% of recent HIV transmission, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Women make up 33% of cases in New York and 27% nationwide. In Los Angeles County, women make up about 12% of the total, according to national and county health statistics, but their number has been increasing.

At particular risk are women and men in immigrant and minority communities, where many men who have had sex with other men do not consider themselves gay and have not disclosed their behavior to their wives and girlfriends.

"This [campaign] is sort of harkening back to the gay community, which is associated with being white and middle-class … and it excludes, frankly, men who may be at very high risk but don't identify as being gay," said Craig Thompson, executive director of AIDS Project Los Angeles.

Activist Cynthia Davis, who has labored for years to ease the stigma of HIV in the African American community, said the Gay & Lesbian Center's campaign could erase years of progress in a community that is skittish about homosexuality but at high risk for the disease.

"This is ludicrous. It's ridiculous," Davis said. "It's going backward."[/q]



so what do we think?

is this an effective campagin? socially irresponsible? perpetuating stereotypes? shocking for the sake of shock? do the ends justify the means? is this, perhaps, the kind of blunt honesty we need for particular groups to take ownership of whatever social malaise plagues their group in disproportinate numbers?
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Old 12-01-2006, 01:21 PM   #2
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more notions of "ownership":



[q]‘AIDS today is a black disease’

Some people worry that labeling HIV/AIDS a “gay disease” or a “black disease,” could open up members of those groups to additional discrimination or exploitation, but to gloss over reality undermines the fight against the disease, said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases.

“If we drop back and say that the answer to stigma is to not point out the people who really need most the kinds of things that we’ve been talking about, I don’t think you’re going to substantially reduce stigma,” Fauci said. “But what you might do is take attention away from the people who really need the attention.

“To kind of gloss over that 47 to 50-plus percent of new infections are among African Americans, then the resources are going to sort of diffusely go out there to someone picking corn in Iowa somewhere,” Fauci added.

African Americans are about 12-13 percent of the U.S. population, but represent 47 percent of Americans living with HIV, and 49 percent of Americans who were diagnosed with HIV in 2005, according to the CDC. Black men are nearly seven times as likely to have HIV as white men, and twice as likely to be infected as black women. Black women have an HIV diagnosis rate 20 times higher the rate for white women, according to the CDC.

In Washington, which has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the nation, 85 percent of cases are among blacks, said Marsha Martin, senior deputy director for HIV/AIDS administration in the Washington, D.C. health department.

“You have to call it for what it is … AIDS today is a black disease, plain and simple,” said Wilson of the Black AIDS Institute. “So we have to get black folks, black institutions to take ownership of this disease.”

[/q]
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Old 12-01-2006, 01:26 PM   #3
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I think this is awful! How could anyone say that now? I would say by this time most victims in the US are IV drug users and promiscuous people both gay AND straight. In Africa, it knows no demographics.

I understand they are trying to draw attention to the importance of being careful to the gay community, but the approach is still wrong and unfair. EVERYONE should own up to it and end it.
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Old 12-01-2006, 01:26 PM   #4
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The real question is what do you think?
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Old 12-01-2006, 01:27 PM   #5
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AIDS

is a human disease.
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Old 12-01-2006, 01:30 PM   #6
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I think a targeted message is powerful. West Hollywood is definitely a targeted message. If this were to appear on public service announcements I think it would be irresponsible. The last thing you want to do is let someone think they're safe because they don't fall into that group.

The radio this morning said it was teenage girls in some parts of the country with the highest rate of new infection. Perhaps posters in girls bathrooms targeting them?

We talked about AIDS in my class last night. The professor asked why it didn't seem to be an issue anymore. It does seem to have fallen out of the public consciousness.
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Old 12-01-2006, 01:32 PM   #7
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I do understand the objectives of the different campaigns.

However, since we need all people on board to work to end this terrible disease
focusing on certain segments of society
will just let some people fall back on the ignorance of “it really does not affect me or my friends.”
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Old 12-01-2006, 01:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by deep
“it really does not affect me or my friends.”


how many white, heterosexual men have HIV?
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Old 12-01-2006, 01:41 PM   #9
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In all the sex-ed classes through school they never adressed the issue of HIV transmissibility differences between anal and vaginal sex
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Old 12-01-2006, 01:51 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by redkat
I think a targeted message is powerful. West Hollywood is definitely a targeted message. If this were to appear on public service announcements I think it would be irresponsible. The last thing you want to do is let someone think they're safe because they don't fall into that group.

The radio this morning said it was teenage girls in some parts of the country with the highest rate of new infection. Perhaps posters in girls bathrooms targeting them?
Interesting point. I think I could get behind this ad if it were part of a bigger campaign of targeted messages which all add up to "it's a human disease." By itself, I'm not sure how I feel about it. Have to think about it more.
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Old 12-01-2006, 01:58 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
In all the sex-ed classes through school they never adressed the issue of HIV transmissibility differences between anal and vaginal sex


i'd have to look this up, but i don't think there's much of a difference at all, and if memory serves, it's most easily passed to the receptive partner vaginally.

which leads me to another point.

there are many safe sex campaigns that tell gay men to use condoms even for oral sex, despite the fact that it's virtually impossible to transmit HIV orally, and this plays into the general mantra of, "use a condom, every time."

but is this really the best message?

consider other alternatives, such as what's deemed a "risk-reducing" activities such as serosorting:

[q]We could lean on each other," Nykolay said. Both men had struggled with symptoms of HIV. Each could see that in the other. It might seem that would be a barrier to getting involved, but it was the opposite. It was part of the attraction. "When I was sick, people would stare," Basinger recalled. "I was 'the AIDS guy.' That's an isolating feeling. I was underweight, gaunt and anemic. My color was all off. I was visibly ill. We could share that and understand that."

This made the two men part of what health experts in San Francisco believe is a significant trend. They say that HIV positive couples -- as well as their negative counterparts -- are helping reduce HIV infections when they choose to limit sexual encounters to partners of like HIV status. In scientific terms, it's being called serosorting.

In San Francisco, the estimated HIV incidence rate among gay and bisexual men is down to 1.2 percent, from the city's previous estimate of 2.2 percent a year (first reported in 2001), according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published in June.

"Serosorting is happening," said Dr. Mitch Katz, San Francisco's public health director. "It's working. It's one of the explanations we have for the flattening of the (HIV) seroincidence curve.

"As an HIV prevention strategy, serosorting is quite effective for positive and negative couples," Katz said. "It enables men to have the sex they want without worrying about contracting HIV."

Katz said another probable cause for the leveling off of infections is that more HIV-positive people have access to medications, which when adhered to make them less infectious to sexual partners by reducing their viral loads.

"For positive men, they don't have to worry about HIV transmission to somebody who is negative," Katz said. "You do still have to worry about sexually transmitted diseases. But for many HIV-positive men, serosorting brings with it a tremendous psychological relief."[/q]


so perhaps the two mantras we hear most often about HIV ...

1. everyone is at risk
2. always use a condom

... aren't necessarily the best ways to fight the disease and prevent transmission.

thoughts?



and i'm trying to be provacative here, this isn't what i necessarily believe, or maybe it is, but it being World AIDS Day and all, i thought it would be good to try to think about the transmission of the disease in a new way
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Old 12-01-2006, 02:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511

i'd have to look this up, but i don't think there's much of a difference at all, and if memory serves, it's most easily passed to the receptive partner vaginally.
[/size]
There is a difference. Anal tissue is more likely to tear during intercourse than vaginal tissue. Anal sex is riskier. And people forget that hetero couples have anal sex, too (gasp).
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Old 12-01-2006, 02:06 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by joyfulgirl


There is a difference. Anal tissue is more likely to tear during intercourse than vaginal tissue. Anal sex is riskier.


ah, then maybe the difference is for the "top" in both situations -- since HIV is in vaginal secretions, it's more likely to enter the male's body vaginally than anally (which would involve small blood particles from the bottom entering the urethra, which does happen).
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Old 12-01-2006, 02:13 PM   #14
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Also, apparently condoms are more likely to break during anal sex than vaginal although I've never once had a gay friend mention a condom breaking (I guess they don't tell me everything ) nor have I ever had one break.
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Old 12-01-2006, 02:58 PM   #15
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I think this ad is a lot like power, put in the wrong hands and it can be dangerous. I understand the target, but think of how many people will want to use this to advance their own agenda.

People are still very very uneducated about this disease, just look back at our "sex with monkeys" thread in here awhile back. I recently had a discussion with a middle age woman about AIDS, I told her Africa was disappearing because of this disease, she replied by saying, "they have that many more gay people there?"
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