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Seattle manifesto calls on gays to take responsibility in AIDS fight

Seattle manifesto calls on gays to take responsibility in AIDS fight

A manifesto released Tuesday by a task force of gay community leaders and health experts in Seattle says that gay and bisexual men in the region must take more responsibility and make greater efforts to combat the spread of HIV, the Seattle Times reports. The task force was organized to determine ways to respond to rising HIV infections rates in the Seattle area, particularly among men who have sex with men. Health officials say the number of new HIV infections among gay and bisexual men rose 40% in 2002 and is expected to climb an additional 60% this year. The manifesto, titled "A Community Manifesto: A New Response to HIV and STDs," says that part of the reason for the rising infection rates is that gay men have abandoned safer-sex practices. It calls for men who have sex with men to be accountable to themselves, their sex partners, and their community by never having unprotected sex outside monogamous relationships. The manifesto claims that knowingly exposing someone to HIV is an "act of violence." The document also encourages HIV-positive men to disclose their serostatus to sex partners and for gay men to avoid alcohol and drug abuse, which can lead to risky sex. The task force that drafted the manifesto hopes that thousands of gay and bisexual men in the Seattle area sign the document, but it noted that it expects controversy over its content. But some task force members say even open criticism of the document will lead to more discussions about HIV/AIDS issues. "Just talking about these issues, getting them on the table, is a huge intervention in itself," said task force member Bill Krutch. But many gay men in the city doubt the manifesto will produce any changes in sexual behavior and even openly question its content. "This manifesto is a hell of a lot of preaching that would do nothing but alienate the social services sector from the clientele that they are targeting," an HIV-negative 23-year-old man told the Times. "It does not invite change, it invites finger-pointing and judgment."

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