Sunday, 25 April 2010

Anal sex, HIV and ignorance costing lives

It appears there has been survey regarding sexual habits.

One of the things it has found is that a greater number of straight women who have anal sex bareback than gay men – i.e. most women who have anal sex do not have their partner wear a condom during. Further, it showed that the women who didn’t use condoms were also not getting any kind of regular STD check. Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that young women are less likely to use condoms than older women.

Now, there are many things wrong and many things unsaid about this survey, aside from the problems of self-reporting. There’s the problem that many people in a monogamous relationship won’t feel the need to use condoms – gay, bi and straight – and that’s understandable. There’s the problem that its highlighting anal sex when it is hardly the only sex act that can spread STDs in general and HIV in particular.

However, there is one thing that screams out to me from this survey that makes me furious and has made me rage before – again it is an indication that AIDS = gay disease is still believed, at least on some level, at least to some degree.

Frankly I don’t know whether to be angry about that or deeply sad. Probably both.

I have said before that AIDS is one of the greatest failures of mankind. AIDS is a tribute to mankind’s ignorance, mankind’s prejudice and mankind’s indifference to the vulnerable. AIDS is a pandemic that could easily have been reduced to a fraction of its current levels if the ignorance surrounding it hadn’t been encouraged, if the victims of the disease hadn’t been met with such indifference by the powers that be because it was only some irrelevant minorities who were dying. If the various religious and right wing groups with their toxic agendas hadn’t hijacked the whole damn thing to push forward their anti-sex, anti-contraception, anti-gays spiel.

And the sad thing is that this ignorance is not only continuing, but seems to be growing. People still believe the foolishness that AIDS is a gay disease. In fact, even MORE people believe that now than believed it in 2000. People still believe they are safe because they are not gay. (And it’s ironic that a study highlighting this partially perpetuates that by focusing on anal sex). Even now whenever a survey comes out that says, for example, that infection rates among black women are soaring, they go looking for black men on the down-low. Because there simply HAS TO BE A GAY MAN INVOLVED! Has to has to has to has to. It is a rule.

This needs to be ultimately, unequivocally clear here. It is possible to be straight and catch HIV. It is possible to catch HIV from straight sex. It is possible to catch HIV from vaginal sex. It is even possible to catch HIV from oral sex. It is possible to catch HIV without a single gay man being involved in the process anywhere. Being straight does not make you safe, being straight does not mean you can’t catch it. Only having sex with straight people who themselves only have sex with straight people does not make you immune.

And above all, for gays, bis and straights alike – the condom bloody WORKS people.

This ignorance is literally killing people.