I just don’t understand why the HIV infection rate is increasing again among young gay guys (see NY times article). For a generation who has grown up in the wired world, hasn’t the danger of the virus sunk in? Or have we, the baby boomer generation, produced a group of kids who just don’t care about anything anymore? Having been a volunteer with my county’s HIV mobile test site, I know how difficult it is to encourage young men to test for the virus. After all these years of enlightened education, our young members of society still seem to have closets to come out from. One would wonder whether the availability of social networking websites (such as MySpace, Hi5) would encourage young people to come out. However, it seems that these websites merely provide another closet to move into.
It is like yesterday when I first heard of the dreaded infection. It was my first year of law school. My roommates told me in hushed voices about the skin cancer that seems to be affecting some gay men. At that time, I felt quite fatalistic because I did not have control over it. No one knew about the cause and it would have been too late to prevent getting it. However, once it was discovered that a virus was causing the illnesses, and that it was easily preventable through the use of condoms, I became an advocate for that safer sex practice. Over the years, that thin layer of rubber has prevented countless humans from being infected.
So, I wonder why till today we have not been able to totally drill into the brains of every one to practice safer sex. Is it really worth the risk of going “bareback” for that extra amount of skin to skin sensation? Maybe the emergence of anti-HIV cocktail drugs has made some of us complacent towards being infected – thinking that it is merely a manageable disease. However, as we know, these cocktails merely serve as a dam against the virus. They are not cures. Further, it seems that these drugs have potential dangerous side effects that are causing long term sufferers to be susceptible to a lot of geriatric diseases, that is, getting old faster and earlier (see this other NY Times article). As any gay boy or men would tell you, getting old is not an option. Please be safe.
[UPDATE: For other thoughts on this subject, click here.]