First posted on olvlzl, June 06, 2006 as SILVER ANNIVERSARY
You have heard the announcements, it was 25 years ago that they figured out that a new health disaster was beginning. With time they would name it AIDS and learn that it was caused by HIV but in the beginning they just knew that a uniformly fatal disease had emerged. Twenty-five years is long enough for the anniversary to seem dowright nostalgic with old names and faces appearing on TV. Researchers and doctors who haven't been seen since Donahue was on daytimes. Progress is reported on many fronts though at best some of the worst symptoms can be kept down for a while. I won't go into the details of the side effects and expense of the drugs required. Even "Secrets of the Dead" had an interesting piece about genetic immunity to the virus. I won't watch cable anymore so am not sure if the maudlin parade of name victims has been a staple of the coverage.
Twenty-five years into a pandemic with effective uniform mortality and there are still 40,000 people contracting HIV infections in the United States every year. For the love of God, there are still babies being born here with HIV infection. Teenagers are often mentioned as a group at major risk of new infection.
Twenty-five years and there isn't real condom education on TV. The medium that uses a third of every hour to sell everything else in the world with sex with programs to reinforce the ads for the other two thirds. You can sell anything with sex in the United States except responsibility and life.
In the same years that health scientists were begging the United States to begin comprehensive promotion of effective condom use, there has been an effective veto on condom advertisements and education by the clergy, their allies in the conservative movement and the Republican Party. They have kept condom education out of TV in the United States. And while they were doing that they made Rupert Murdoch a citizen of the United States. The "dirty digger" of the infamous "Sun" tabloid, the Aussie T&A peddler was put on fast track for citizenship in the Reagan years so he could start buying media companies and plying his trade in low grade smut and right wing politics. I've got to eat breakfast or I'd go into his being installed as a Papal Knight of St. Gregory during the same period. So it's not the sex they won't let on TV. Mr. Page Three, yes. Condom education? You willing to bet your life on seeing it here?
It is twenty-five years past the time when the United States should have ditched the faith based tire biters and put real education about condoms in the mass media. And mass media is the only effective means of mass education we have. How many people can tell you who this fifteen minutes' American Idol is as compared to the number who can tell you where Athens has been for the past 2,500 years? Every week that clergymen or Concerned Bottle Blonds of America delay the airing of real, effective, science based AIDS education thousands will die. They are the angels of preventable death. Completely informed and totally unconcerned, they are worse than the ignorant Moslem clergy who are responsible for polio outbreaks in Nigeria. There is no question that their veto of condom education and the full index of lies and distortions they replace it with are responsible for many times more dead Americans than the attacks of Sept. 11th. And that's just here. The bodies they've left lie around the world.
Condoms are the most effective way to prevent new HIV infections. They are safe, inexpensive, simple to use and when used consistently, people live. But they will not be used without a massive education and public relations campaign. They have to be made acceptable, even fashionable. Their use has to be made as every day and habitual as brushing your teeth and using deodorant before you go out on a date. Our media could do that. They can sell anything. If they can get Americans to try sushi they can get them to save their lives. Think of the possibilities, think of what those geniuses behind the Geico ads could do on the subject.
Will it ever be done? Will it be done in time for your children or grand children to learn how to save their lives? Twenty-five years and they're still talking in generalities and nice words that Michael Powell would have approved. The TV discussion I've heard is worse than it was during the Reagan years. Clearly, the conservative establishment and their corporate media are going for gold.
Note: It’s close to a year since this was first posted. I’m not certain that there are 40,000 more new infections, though I expect there have been. I’m sure we are no closer to having a rational and so moral AIDS policy in this country than we were then.