You know, I'm falling so far behind in the things that I want to post about that Andrew Sullivan could say that he was right eleven years ago when he said that AIDS is over and I wouldn't even have time to post on it.
Oh wait, that did happen.
In The Stranger's little parade of mostly white, male queers telling the history of gay rights through the years, Mr. 1996 writes about his infamous article for the NY Times, "When Plagues End", where he declared the end of AIDS. He revisits that article by complaining about the "weirdness of the PC mantra" that is responsible for him being "flayed alive."
I suppose that he's now blaming PC for the fact that, in a study last year by the University of Pittsburgh:
In 2001, HIV affected about one in 12 20-year-old MSM in these countries [US, Canada, and Europe]. The projected rate of infection could be one in four by the time they are in their 30s, researchers estimated. By age 60, 58 percent could be infected.
Or maybe PC is responsible for the fact that 988,376 Americans were seropositive in 2005
Or maybe what really is political correctness's fault is that 29,000,000 people have the virus in sub-Saharan Africa and 40 million do worldwide.
But what's very puzzling is that he says, "I do not miss AIDS." Does it make me a bad person to point out the fact that he is HIV-positive at this point? I'm not stigmatizing people who are seropositive, but it seems rather strange to me that someone would say that they don't miss a disease that they in fact have. Like, of course you don't, it hasn't left.
Sullivan's main point is that since he has the money to afford protease inhibitors developed in 1996 (even though, according to the UN, only .0001% of the global population with AIDS has access to anti-retroviral drugs) that no one in the world is allowed to try to impress upon people that getting the virus is not something that they want to do. I seriously think it would be great if he flew to Kenya or South Africa to make similar pronouncements about the end of AIDS. While we don't have to live in absolute fear of the virus, and we definitely shouldn't live in fear ot the people who have it, if we're going to beat it we have to know where it is and we need to make sure people know why it's important to take basic precautions against it.
Gabriel Rotello responded to Sullivan's claims over at the Huffington Post, and Sullivan responded on his blog. His three basic defenses were that:
- one can only talk about anti-retroviral drugs or prevention, not both;
- anti-retroviral drugs have made the distinction between having HIV and not moot;
- and telling people about the disease, how to prevent transmission, and the current infection rate will curtail "freedom".
On general principle, I don't respond to blogs, and I think that just pointing out his main points speaks for itself.
So, the real question is, why? Why does he feel the need to say that AIDS is over when it's so clearly not? Well, my theory is that it's always a lot easier to ignore a problem than to try and solve it as long as it isn't making your own life inconvenient. You see that from every corner, whether it be health care (our Representatives and Senators have great health coverage), racial discrimination (if you're white), or the global warming. In fact, I'd say that's half of what modern conservatism, and 90% of libertarianism/paleo-conservatism, is based on, a willful ignorance of all problems affecting anyone else but the person with those political beliefs. So for all the queers who see "liberation" (as Sullivan puts it) in libertarianism, don't be surprised when people of that political stripe ignore any problems that come from queers that might require, you know, money to solve.
But nothing's going to stop him from making erroneous claims. But I do have to wonder why The Stranger chose to publish Sullivan's essay instead of one from a more responsible source on the development of anti-retroviral drugs. Or maybe they could have published an essay on Romer v. Evans, a lawsuit we won that helped prevent many city, county, and municipal anti-discrimination laws from being overturned by state law. Just a thought.