In the 1980s five cases of gay men appearing with a rear form of pneumonia sparked interests. As more cases appeared doctors and scientists began to realize that there was a new disease around. In July 1981 the New York Times published an article entitled Care Cancer seen in 41 Homosexuals. In it Dr. James Curran gave the country a description of what he believed the typical person with this new disease would look like. “A white gay male, approximately 35 years old with a college education, good job and vigorous social life”, was his description. From then on the connection between HIV/AIDS and the gay community was formed. In 1982 the CDC named the disease Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDs) but before then terms like ‘gay cancer’, ‘gay pneumonia’, and ‘the gay plague’ were common. Over the years the gay community has worked to reshape its image and battle this disease which affected many of its numbers.
Promiscuity and anonymous sex was common in the gay community prior to the appearance of HIV. When the disease began to hit the community organizations were formed to educate people and prevent further incidences. Safe sex was encouraged and many began forming long term relationships as opposed to engaging in the occasional one night stand. Safe sex was the main instrument used by the gay community in their fight against AIDs. It was used throughout the ’80s and the early ’90s when a second wave of infections erupted. Newsletters, forums and counseling sessions were used to spread information about how important safe sex is. The community was unified in light of the tragedy. It is this unification that furthered many social advances for the LGBT community, stemming to today’s single sex marriage fights. Though there are some who still think of HIV and AIDS as simply ‘gay diseases’ there has been much improvement in how the public views the disease. The recent findings by the CDC concerning unprotected sex among gay men may over shadow these improvements.
Researchers are yet to pinpoint why the numbers of unprotected sex among gay men has increased. There are many speculations though. One of them, voiced by Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, is that more gay men are “sero-sorting”, or choosing to sleep with men they are told, or believe to be uninfected. The problem with this is that according to recent surveys one third of men do not even get tested. According to Dr. Kenneth Mayer a lead author in the studies 31.4 percent of men studied have had unprotected anal sex with at least one partner of unknown sero-status, and almost a quarter had unprotected sex with a partner they were sue was unprotected. Another theory about the rising numbers concerns the belief that infected people who take their antiretroviral medications do not often transmit the disease. As researchers review their findings and hypothesize about why the numbers have increased so sharply the LGBT community begins to work on overcoming this obstacle and the long fight to improve the world’s perception of them continues.
By: Earnestine Jones
Source: NewYork Times
AIDS a Catalyst of Change for Gay Community