A deadly history

By |2017-10-31T06:22:34-04:00October 31st, 2017|Uncategorized|

Craig Covey, executive director of the Midwest AIDS Prevention Project, is not one to mince words – and when it comes to gays getting high and taking sexual risks, he doesn’t hold back. “Using speed along with Viagra and engaging in marathon unprotected sex is more than dysfunctional and suicidal behavior. It is selfish, hateful, and dangerous, and some day our community needs to wake up to these issues,” he says in our story on page 8.
In this week’s issue of BTL, one week before our health issue, we have a lot of bad news to report. Our cover story is one we wish we did not have to report, but feel it is too vital and too dangerous to ignore. National and state studies have found that crystal meth use is growing and linked to increased HIV infections in the gay community. Not only that, but a potentially new deadly strain of HIV has been discovered (p. 8) raising the level of alert even higher.
The LGBT community does not need BTL to be its Nancy Reagan. “Just Say No” has become more of a catch phrase than a warning. That drugs are harmful, dangerous, or just simply not the best idea isn’t news. But this crystal meth stuff is bad news. Its use combined with risky sex, especially in younger gay men, threatens to reverse much of the progress made over the years battling HIV/AIDS in our community.
For those who remember, it wasn’t that long ago that HIV was a death sentence. Staff here at BTL lost many friends in the 80s and early 90s. Repeated and devastating loss is difficult to forget and it served as a wake-up call to the gay community during those years.
For those who can’t remember, particularly gay youth, HIV/AIDS may not seem like such a threat. With new drug therapies many people with HIV are living what appear to be long and healthy lives, much like people with diseases like diabetes. Safe sex messages and warnings about engaging in risky sex acts while under the influence of drugs or alcohol begin to fall on deaf ears.
But HIV/AIDS is no diabetes and complacency is a killer.
Though these stories don’t paint the gay community in its best light, if we’ve learned anything as a community it’s that we have to fight our own battles because no one is jumping up to fight them for us. The only way to stop behavior that is destructive and harmful to our community is to talk about it. We hope that these stories open up an important line of dialog.
In this issue we also report that racism and misinformation continue to hamper HIV/AIDS education, prevention, and treatment in the black community and we review a new book that paints a sobering portrait of how this disease has always disproportionately affected African Americans. Though these stories are running in our last issue during Black History Month, they are stories that need to be told year round, and we will continue to follow them.
At BTL we want to see this disease stopped in all communities, regardless of race or sexual orientation. We have not forgotten its legacy, and we do not wish to see any part of that deadly history repeated.

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.