While reviewing the Emory Wheel and Emory Reports of the late 1980’s/early 1990’s it is no surprise that I found more and more articles pertaining to the fears and the education of AIDS. There are articles that educated the Emory community on the spread of AIDS and how it is contracted (NOT by causal means as most feared) while other articles concentrated on the support the community must share with the AIDS positive individuals.
I also found numerous advertisements for Safe Sex Lectures for students and even a questioner that posted questions by students on the AIDS epidemic. Common questions such as “Can you get AIDS/ HIV from a toilet seat?” and “Is AIDS more common in poor neighborhoods?” These and many others are questions that Emory students received answers to. Sign up sheets for AIDS walks also made an appearance in these issues of the Emory Report and Wheel which shows the growing support for the AIDS community. All of these articles serve to understand AIDS and show support for those who had fallen ill.
The most interesting of them all, for me, was a particular article called “AIDS is ‘human disease’ according to panel.” It discusses the impact that this disease can bring to the human race and that it is indeed a human disease in that it can be contracted by anyone; no matter your gender, sex, religion, nationality, AIDS can be contracted by anyone.
The most powerful quote, given by Max Pessess, a worker from Center for Disease Control said “AIDS is a human disease which can and does threatened our society, (It) is not a gay disease.” This quote carries significant weight in that it proves wrong that only gays are contracting AIDS and that it can also infect heterosexuals: that the entire human race is in the same boat and thus all eligible to contract the disease. AIDS is not discriminatory so it is not correct for us to assume that it is only spread in the gay community. It is indeed a ‘human disease.’ Roy Griffin (AIDS positive) also appeared in the article and quotes, “All walks of life are afflicted with the AIDS virus; babies, women, blacks, Hispanics, straights, gays and even a 69-year-old grandmother.” These two quotes are significant in that they challenge the stereotype that AIDS is only a gay disease. We as a community need to realize that “people who have AIDS are just that: People, who have AIDS (Karen Genry).”
This article is appropriate for the time because it not only serves to educate and others on the severity of the AIDS epidemic but it also serves to enlighten others that people with AIDS are no different from anyone else and thus they shouldn’t be neglected. People should not fear those with AIDS but should fear AIDS itself as an un-discriminatory virus that could potentially have devastating effects on the human race.
Its crazy how long this disease has been around and yet is still misunderstood in different ways. Just like many other topics of sex and sexuality, the wrong things are often highlighted.
But if we, as a culture, don’t like to talk about sex and ignore or discard folks who have injection drug problems, how can we ever truly be able to talk about AIDS?
I can kind of understand how people came up with questions like “Can you get AIDS/ HIV from a toilet seat?” and “Is AIDS more common in poor neighborhoods?”, but I have always wondered how some people started to believe that AIDS/HIV were ‘gay disease.’ Is that because of the misconception that gay sexual activities are promiscuous? Or maybe just to blame them for having ‘unnatural’ relationships?
No it’s because in the U.S. AIDS first showed up in the (mostly white, middle class and wealthy) gay male community.mthen it was called GRID: gay related immune disease. They thought it was some kind of cancer.
Tazam: great job analyzing a large body of artifacts you found in the archives and beginning to develop a narrative to explain it. I wonder how much of this was also a response to Ryan White, the young man from Indiana who contracted HIV from a blood transfusion (he was a hemophiliac). This, of course, led to the creation of a binary of “innocent” and “guilty” people with HIV/AIDS but that discussion is for another post.