Why Examine Safer Sex
in Personal Relationships?
Approximately 2 decades after HIV and AIDS were originally discovered in 1981, 40 million individuals worldwide are living with HIV. Seventy percent of these individuals are Africans (World Health Organization [WHO], 2002). AIDS is the leading cause of death in Africa and the fourth leading cause of death universally (WHO, 2002). Within the United States, 774,467 individual cases of AIDS were reported to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) between 1981 and 2000. Eighty-three percent of these cases involved men and 17% involved women. Of the 774,467 cases reported to the CDC, 448,060 of these individuals have perished (CDC, 2002). Until an effective vaccination program or curative treatment isdeveloped, the numbers are expected to continue to increase. The worldwide implications of this growing problem are increasing as the Indian subcontinent (in late 2002 the estimate was over 4.5 million infected with an expectation of 25 million by the year 2010,Milwaukee Journal, 2002), the old Soviet Republics, and mainland China start to experience increases in infection. The full level of economic disruption and social dislocation from millions of AIDS orphans and loss of economic potential occurs. The evidence, particularly in Asia, is for a growing and impending crisis in the future that continues to intensify and become increasingly disruptive.
Over the past 2 decades, the media and much research have heavily focused on certain groups (e.g., gay and bisexual men, intravenous (IV) drug users, prostitutes) when examining HIV and AIDS. Indeed, at the onset of HIV and AIDS in the United States, the predominant groups afflicted by HIV and AIDS were men having sexwith other men and intravenous drug users, particularly the former (CDC, 2002). Trends over the past 15 years, however, indicate a decrease in AIDS among men having sex with men and a plateauing of cases