When I had decided to organize a team for the local AIDS Walk, I also addressed the difficulty that some people face when asked to fundraise. I lack no skills in this task, however, many people, especially women, have a hard time asking people for money - their own or someone else's. To assist my team in collecting pledges, I wrote up some 'talking points' for them; a variety of facts about HIV/AIDS, which they could use as a source for talking to people about HIV/AIDS. To do this properly, I needed to research some statistics for myself. What I found did not really surprise me, but I knew it would surely surprise others.
Reported new cases of AIDS have increased by 33% in the age group of 50+, and that statistic represents a span of two years, not an over all percentage. This fact alone was not just a surprise to people, but also a source of amusement. Apparently the old axiom of believing that people your parents' age don't engage in sex still exists among today's more 'enlightened' young people. Given some thought, the fact that AIDS is growing among senior citizens should not be a surprise to anyone.
In Florida and Arizona, there are six widowed or single women to every man in that age group. Today, people over 50 enjoy better health and younger looks than did their parents. With the advent and availability of Erectile Dysfunction medications, any 70 year old male can be called a "Condo Cowboy" too. Yes, senior citizens not only date, but have more opportunity to do so than do 40 year old singles. However, the once freeing state of being past menopause has given many of the dating and sexually active females of this age group a sense of safety. Where educated safe sex should be practiced, denial based risky sexual behavior is resulting in new cases of AIDS exploding into the senior communities.
The current administration in the United States has duplicitously enforced a message of monogamy and abstinence as a reliable means of disease and birth control. In doing so, it has committed a disservice not just to youth, but to all segments of the population. Furthermore, this "message" is preached to the youth of America, within the confines of public education (and government funded education). If AIDS is not discussed openly among everyone, how will segments of the population no longer attending schools become aware of the risk of HIV/AIDS?
Not to flog a dead or dying horse, the recent Foley brouhaha has brought to light something that should have been obvious: the Republican party, like any group, is just as "guilty" of sexual high jinx as were the prior occupants of the White House. But here similarities end: the holier than thou attitudes which dominate Republican politics had no place in the Clinton administration.
Turn on prime time television and what you will be assaulted with is mixed messages that seem to go hand in hand with repressive sexual politics. Prime time is full of desperate housewives, men in trees, and youth oriented advertising all using sex as the sole reason to purchase products. It is a sexy world out there with zero responsibility for safe intimate congress.
Yes, the current political climate can be directly held responsible for the lack of information, or for the extent of misinformation about HIV/AIDS and STDs. It is fully responsible for our parents, or grandparents thinking that the worse thing that could happen to them while engaging in risky, unsafe sex, might be an unexpected pregnancy. It is not only time to bring the facts about HIV/AIDS into the public eye, it is more than overdue to educate every human being in this country about HIV/AIDS and the effect that AIDS could have on not just our economy, but on our health care services, health care workers, families, communities and all humanity. Hiding ones head in the sand of Florida or Arizona will not prevent AIDS. Understanding how AIDS is spread and what constitutes high risk behavior will prevent AIDS.