Here To Inspire

Michael Lucas on Reviving AIDS Art



The recent advances in microbicide research raise important questions about the future of HIV prevention. If and when the medical community finds a treatment that is dependably effective in preventing HIV, will gay men be the last demographic to receive it? Why does it seem like gay men, after 25 years of negligence on the part of our government in our own fight against HIV and AIDS, are still the last demographic to receive preventive treatments? The answer is obvious to me: lack of advocacy. The widely reported issues of suicide and antigay violence are important to our community, but the threats they pose are not nearly as grave as the continued threat of HIV and AIDS. Had the nine nationally recognized teens who committed suicide because of antigay bullying in the last two months lived, statistically at least one of them would have contracted HIV. The national news media still seem hesitant or disinterested in advocating for gay men’s health interests regarding HIV and AIDS. I would conjecture, based on the developments regarding vaginal microbicides, that the media’s coverage of HIV and AIDS reflects the United States government’s policies and programs, which treat heterosexuals first and gays last.

The troubling rise in HIV cases among urban gay men should be evidence enough that drastic changes in policy and increased funding for awareness, treatment, and prevention are imminently necessary. On the one hand, I am disappointed with the news media and the government for not taking more action on our behalf. However, I cannot say that it is surprising, given the history of the AIDS crisis in the United States, that we must continue to fight and advocate for ourselves in order to be heard. In revisiting the stories and histories of the crisis, activists and forebears are sharing their knowledge and experiences with a new generation of gay men and women. The recent revivals and reexaminations of the initial fight against HIV and AIDS will, I hope, inspire a new generation of activists to continue the fight against HIV in our community and against indifference from our society.