Feb 18, 2005

The only thing I want to come between us is latex.

Today’s Salon has an article discussing the recent mutated AIDS virus scare. Apparently doctors and public health advocates are trying to do some damage control, saying that it’s too soon to worry that this may become pandemic.

I don’t know about you, but HIV and AIDS is scary enough without having to worry about mutated viruses and everything else.

Protease inhibitors help slow the pace at which HIV becomes full-blown AIDS, often bringing the viral load to levels that are barely detectable. Advances in modern medicine – miracle drugs that help sustain the lives of people living with the virus – also bring along negative effects. People who engage in high-risk behaviours think they have some new kind of “insurance” against the virus, thinking they don’t have to make any changes in their lifestyles to protect themselves against contracting this disease, because if they catch it, hey – they can just pop a few pills and be alright. Right?

HELL no.

Here’s my problem with the messaging regarding this new mutation. And maybe I’m reading this the wrong way, but in light of recent evidence to the fact that the virus CAN and DOES mutate into forms that become resistant to existing treatment methods, shouldn’t this be a good time to remind people to be extra careful? Maybe a little epidemic scare is what people need to have a nice little “oh shit” moment and perhaps, you know, maybe ... use a condom or a clean needle or something? Protease inhibitors have given non-infected people (or maybe even infected, who knows, really) a sense of complacency. I think the correct message is that, until there’s a cure, one should never reach a level of complacency. Be on guard. Always.

One rationale behind the genetic mutation is that the guy in Manhattan in whom they discovered it is a meth user, and how use of crystal meth leads to unsafe sex and the spread of AIDS. Meth users, the article says, are more likely to miss their regular doses, which helps the virus mutate. Even meth users who take their meds regularly have a higher level of the virus in their body. But the article does go on to state that there is no medical link between meth and the virus advancement rate.

Maybe it is a mutation, maybe it’s not. Maybe the faux mutation is unique to this one individual. In any case, the messaging should be different. Basically, don’t do drugs, and practice safe sex should be the messaging here, instead of “don’t be alarmed, no mutation to see here, no siree” because people will return to that same level of complacency.

The article mentions something called a “booty bump,” in which the meth is mixed with water and administered rectally in order to get high. Who knew!

I swear, those drug addicts really do have quite the imaginations, don't they!

1 comment:

Mac said...

Hi Mags! Thanks for the great article on the new upsurge of new HIV infections. It is being called safe sex fatigue syndrom, wouldn't you know.

The gay mens community got a handle on the problem and new infections were among the lowest of risk groups in America.

You hit the nail on the head with crystal meth. It is the real pandemic.

What scares me most is that there are young men in the gay community wwho are labeled "bug chasers," because they seek to either prove themselves immune to the virus or join the only real cohesive and organized sector of the Gay mens' community... the only part with any depth. Sure muscle boys can still do drugs and dance all night. They are usually, sadly, but not exclusively, vapid.

The gay mens' community is undergoing a rennaisance right now.

Again, thank you for your insightful look at the problem.