hardest hit, AIDS is likely to be the most important event of their lives
similar to the way that war is never forgotten by veterans.
How many NZ and SA homosexually active men become infected
with HIV or will die from AIDS is a matter of speculation. Whether
there will be an epidemic in these countries is no longer an issue; the
issue is the extent of the prevalence of HIV before the central goal of
prevention occurs: that no new cases of HIV transmission occur.21
Ultimately, this involves all people in the community becoming
informed and supportive of initiatives that prevent transmission and
taking responsibility for their own behavior. While some might
cynically claim this is an impossible goal, the extent to which this
goal is realized will be the most telling indicator of the extent of this
epidemic.22 Personally, I believe achieving this goal is possible23 and
ultimately necessary. Therefore, the question is not if it will occur,
but when it will occur. And when it occurs will be determined by the
time it takes for all of us, regardless of sexual orientation or antibody
status, to make this goal our own.24
Kei ia tatou te oranga
(Our lives are in our hands)
Philosopher Jonathan Moreno of George Washington University, in
Rutledge [ 1988], p. 121.
This is most clearly seen in the number of study respondents believing
they are likely to die of AIDS.
A common characteristic of oppressed groups is that their customs,
histories, languages, etc., are not valued and so become "lost." Conversely, part of
minority group liberation is rediscovering that past and remembering it.
As was demonstrated in Chapter 17, the absence of hope becomes a selffulfilling prophecy by promoting self-destructive behavior.
I believe it is valid to extrapolate, from what we know of the past and
perceive in the present, our visions of the future. Unfortunately, research
(especially epidemiological) in this epidemic has often been used as the voice of the
prophet of doom. For those in low-prevalence areas, I believe it is vital that this
prophecy is balanced by the knowledge that gloom and annihilation are not
inevitable outcomes and that there is another option to work toward.
As suggested by the results of this study. In this context "inaction" refers
not only to the maintaining of unsafe sexual behavior, but the maintaining of other
structures that indirectly sustain the status quo and so promote the spread of HIV.
So, for example, campaigns appear to have been weakened or compromised by the
perceived need to accommodate "public sensitivity about explicit sexual education"
and the conservative lobby. In these circumstances, the goal ceases to be effectively
promoting behavior change (and so preventing HIV transmission) and becomes,
instead, seeing how effective we can be without offending "the public." Surely it is
important, when dealing with life-threatening illness, to tailor education to the
people who are perceived to be most at risk (that is, those engaging in unsafe sex
outside of long-term monogamous relationships), rather than to the values of people
at little or no risk.