Sad to say that even on December 1st, 2010, AIDS and HIV still need to be talked about a great length here on The Big Gay Blog!
A brief history lesson:
In 1981 the 'Gay Cancer' as it was identified then, began to rear its ugly head. Later identified as Kaposi's Sarcoma, it would later become the identifiable face of AIDS. California and New York- being the epicenters of Gay culture that they were- were hardest hit.
In 1987, the first treatment drug, AZT, was introduced and approved by the FDA and President Ronald reagan finally uses the word AIDS in a public speech.
In 1990, a young man, Ryan White, died while fighting to remain in school with his peers. That same year, The Ryan White Care Act is enacted by US Congress to provide government sponsored funds for the care of HIV/AIDS infected people.
1992 sees the advancement of treatments with combination therapies- using multiple and often- a huge pile of pills to treat the disease.
In 1998, human trials of a vaccine finally arrive. In an effort to get the expensive drugs to the hardest hit areas of the world- namely Africa- European drug companies start making generic versions. In response, US patent laws are broken and the big US pharmaceutical companies file lawsuits which stop this practise in its tracks.
In 2000 we see the Durban Declaration- the scientific community finally links HIV and AIDS.
In 2001, US drug companies drop their patent lawsuits which allow for cheaper HIV meds to be distributed world wide. 21 million people dead from AIDS at this point with 17 million from Africa alone.
2004- new drug therapies, including new combo drugs and protease inhibitors are introduced.
2005- India surpasses Africa in number of people living with HIV.
In November of this year, a new drug is proven to drastically reduce HIV transmission. Called TRUVADA, it claims to cut the risk by 44% in Gay men.
Is there a true vaccine yet? Absolutely not.
At a recent luncheon for A Loving Spoonful here in Vancouver- a prominant doctor and AIDS activist told me that although in the USA 20% of Gay Men have HIV and sadly that 50% don't even know it- in Canada, the numbers are much lower.
Still- 56,000 Americans are still diagnosed with HIV every year and 18,000 are dieing of AIDS in the US alone. In Canada, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS was 65,000 at the end of 2009 and the greatest proportion of new HIV infections (44%) was comprised of men who have sex with men.
The stats are clear people.
Get tested, often. Practice safe sex- which means where a condom. We can't live in fear but we can live smart. Still, mistakes happen all the time, especially when we are thinking with our 'other' head.
Keep fighting for a vaccine. Support our local AIDS and HIV organizations. Keep talking about HIV and AIDS. It isn't over. Yet.
Some events taking place today that you could participate in:
World AIDS Day at the Dr. Peter Centre
What: An official event to commemorate the day with Govt. of BC officials, Mayor Gregor Robertson, Dr. Julio Montagner and Dr. Peter’s parents, Bob and Shirley Young.
When: Wednesday, December 1st, 8:30 am to 9:30 am.
Where: The Dr. Peter Centre (1110 Comox St.)
How much: Free.
Groundswell: YouthCO’s World AIDS Day Event
What: A night of local youth-made art, including an interactive performance by YouthCO’s forum Theatre Troupe in honour of World AIDS Day.
When: Wednesday, December 1st, doors at 6:30 pm, show at 7 pm.
Where: W2 Storeum (151 West Cordova St.).
How much: Admission by donation.
Bingo for Life
What: Every Wednesday Joan-E hosts “bingay” to raise funds for Friends for Life. Make this Wednesday extra special!
When: Wednesday, December 1st, 8 pm.
Where: Celebrities Nightclub (1022 Davie St.)
How much: Suggested $10 donation.