Monday, June 05, 2006

AIDS at 25

On June 5, 1981, in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, brief note was taken of a peculiar cluster of pneumonia cases in five otherwise healthy gay men.

Read the rest of this article on AIDS at 25 in the New York Times.

The San Francisco Chronicle also has a wide range of interesting articles on AIDS at 25 in the USA and abroad. Of particular interest to some is the podcast on Randy Shilts who was one of the first journalists in the USA to chronicle AIDS and the history of the discovery of the disease, the politics and the effects on peoples lives.

I recently read an editorial in an Irish publication which stated that the author felt that AIDS had nothing to do with her as she was a lesbian. In an otherwise interesting piece which highlighted the way in which young gay men in Ireland perceive themselves as invincible to the disease, it was the appearance of a denial of lesbian involvement in the history and development of the response to HIV/AIDS which irked me.

As a lesbian who has lost friends to this disease it would be impossible to say I have not been affected. Lesbians alongside gay men were to the fore in creating services for those affected by the disease, lesbians nursed those affected, buried them, mourned them. Today many lesbian women still work with those who are HIV positive or have AIDS and educate others through youth work, healthcare and education.

Many women who identify as Lesbian also contract HIV/AIDS through

- Sexual contact, - some women who have sex with women also have or had sex with men, also there is insufficient research on the possibility of transmission between women and researchers refuse to look at the possibility of female to female transmission if a woman has had sex with a man since 1977.

- Intravenous drug use

- Blood transfusions.

One sentence in an Irish publication writes out the history of lesbian involvement in the AIDS epidemic – although it may be the author's experience that AIDS does not affect her - it’s a shame that more research is not done on our legacy and involvement in this issue and that such a narrow view of lesbian identity is created.


At 10:55, Anonymous Sean R said...

Thanks for that Maman Poulet, the editorial is stunning (and not in a good way).

The phrase "embarrassed to admit" that AIDS didn't seem pertinent to lesbians and "aghast" that young gay men don't use condoms set the tone to suggest that ignorance is normal. It could a easily be an editorial about an experience of retail therapy in BT's (yup u've been seen there!)

This is the editorial of the main GLBT publication in this State and it couldn't rise to using the editorial to remind people that AIDS is still a crucial issue and constant vigilence is required. The magazine could have turned the editorial column over to an HIV+ voice or even an HIV+ lesbian's voice, or am I rattling the cage?

At 05:15, Blogger Ron Hudson said...

Thank you for this post and for acknowledging the role of lesbians in the AIDS pandemic. In the earliest of days, my friends and me were nursed and nurtured by our lesbian friends. Now, the demographics are changing so rapidly that there aren't even that many gay men who show up at my clinic. We are being slowly replaced by straight African-American men and women. In fact, the fastest growing demographic group for death by AIDS in the US is now African-American women between 25 and 44 years of age.

Many lesbians put their lives on hold and on the line for us in the early days. I am one who wants to say thank you to the stars for my sisters. Sadly, many of our sisters rightfully lost faith in gay men when people continued to play without condoms despite the warnings. I can not blame them.

I don't want to see anyone live through what I do. At 21 and more years of life with HIV, I am lucky to be here. It is not a charmed life by any means, though, and there is no glamour in being infected. Please continue to crusade for safer sex and universal precautions for everyone.


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