A birthday with a poisonous cake

By |2018-01-15T19:05:13-05:00May 25th, 2006|Uncategorized|

Some anniversaries you celebrate. Some you observe.
And some anniversaries are so horrible we all wish they didn’t exist.
The anniversary of the discovery of HIV/AIDS is one such date.
On June 5, 1981, scientists announced the discovery of a powerful disease that was ravaging the bodies of gay men. Most of America greeted the news with a yawn. Since that day, we have lost twenty-five million people around the world.
‘But why cover the disease now?’ some might ask. After all, there are powerful drugs out now that mostly regulate AIDS, allowing people to live far longer than in the past. And the Centers for Disease Control has issued recommendations that everyone be checked for AIDS during their routine physicals – just like diabetes, right?
Wrong.
No one thinks that you can catch diabetes from kissing, sharing a drink of water from the same glass, or from touching a toilet seat. But a recently released Kaiser Foundation poll found that 37 percent, 22 percent and 16 percent of the American public still believes that you can catch HIV/AIDS from those things. In addition, according to a press release about the poll, “a majority does not know that a pregnant woman with HIV can take drugs to reduce the risk of her baby being infected (55 percent), or that having another sexually transmitted disease may increase a person’s risk of getting HIV (56 percent).”
That’s right. Twenty-five years after the discovery of AIDS, not only do people still think you can get it from kissing, a majority lacks vital information that could help cut down on the spread of the disease. And, of course, the religious right still feels that HIV/AIDS is a punishment for gays wrought by their god.
Chalk the continued ignorance up to the Bush administration’s insistence on abstinence-only programs if you will, but the fact remains that roughly 40,000 people every year still become infected by HIV/AIDS, and in 2004 nearly 16,000 died from it. The drugs that help control the disease are only a stopgap, not a solution. The only solution is prevention – real prevention, based on science and not on some people’s faith.
We at BTL look forward, avidly, to covering a different AIDS-related anniversary; the anniversary of the date that a cure or a vaccine is found, the anniversary of the very last death from HIV/AIDS. Until then, we will continue to bring you the best coverage we can of this disease that has galvanized our community even as it came close to destroying us.
Fortunately, this issue of BTL also has good news. A Georgia judge has struck down the anti-marriage amendment to that state’s constitution on the grounds that it violates the state’s single-issue requirement for ballot proposals. You see, the zealots who wrote the proposal sought, in one fell swoop, to forbid not only marriage rights to same-sex couples but civil unions and domestic partnership benefits as well. Of course, that state’s GOP will do all it can to use this issue to galvanize religious extremists at the polls, but we can all hope that the extra time will give fair-minded individuals time to realize that Adam and Steve really do deserve the legal protections that they finance through their taxes. In addition, a federal judge has struck down Oklahoma’s anti-gay adoption law, making that state a safer one for the children of same-sex parents. And, of course, this issue of BTL brings you the 2006 Pride Calendar so you know where to go to let your rainbow flag fly this Pride season.
While our community will never forget our dead, we are committed to doing all we can to insure that those of us yet living will someday enjoy the full civil rights that we deserve. And that’s a goal to be proud of.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.