Abstinence, Homeless, Aids..

In Risk, Identity, and Love in the age of AIDS, Judith Levine describes the risk group theory. This theory included two distinct populations; the “high risk groups included gay men, Haitian immigrants, and intravenous drug users and their sex partners and babies. In the low risk or no risk groups were suburban teens, heterosexuals, white yuppies…” This was new and interesting information to me, how a group of people can be treated almost like a different species. The concept of risk groups becomes a little more complicated when you have inter-crossing between the groups. Levine uses the example of how a man who has sex with a teenage hustler in a downtown park, could have sex with a man from a random bar, and that man could then have sex with his suburban wife at home. This is a perfect example of how misleading this risk-group theory can be. In my opinion, it needs to become on the individual level, rather than the group level which can lead to rejecting certain types of people. A perfect example of this is how promiscuity is tied together with being gay. Besides how false that is, this societal belief leads people askew from actual AIDS preventative measures (e.g safe sex, not sharing needles and syringes).

Levine gave examples of homosexual youth coming out to their family, and getting a hostile response, often leaving them eating out of a dumpster. One in particular was Stephen Graham, who was banned from his family and church, and left in state institutions and friend’s houses. Being homeless doesn’t mean you get to do the most safe activities (e.g. prostitution, sex for drugs). I found an interesting CNN article about a homeless women in Atlanta (Crystal). She is HIV/AIDS positive like many homeless in downtown Atlanta, and is barely concerned with treating her disease, but more concerned with where she is going to sleep, eat, and stay clean. This leaves little time to avoid spreading her HIV/AIDS, sometimes having sex for drugs, and sharing needles. Elizabeth Landau states in the CNN article “Poverty, sex trafficking, food  insecurity and continued stigmas attached to the disease all help make Atlanta a center of the southeast epidemic. AID Atlanta, and the Jerusalem House are both organizations that provide clinics, housing, and education to people living with AIDS. These organizations both have the goals to reduce/prevent spreading infection, and to improve health of those with HIV/AIDS.

Sexual education at a young age can be very influential later on in life. There are two different types of sexual education, abstinence base and comprehensive. The abstinence approach to sex education primarily teaches youth not to have sex before marriage – preaching that it is best to ensure that they will avoid infection with HIV/AIDS, other STI’s, and pregnancy. This approach is a wrong approach in my opinion. It teaches kids to not have sex before marriage. The problem with that is this approach doesn’t teach kids how to have safe sex. It also leads to kids thinking that oral and anal sex are other options to explore, which isn’t exactly the most healthy mentality to have. Abstinence advocates also do not teach about condoms, because they feel it encourages sex. The comprehensive approach does not focus on teaching kids they should refrain from sex until marriage. instead, it explains the benefit of delaying sex until emotionally/physically ready. This approach makes sure the kids know how to protect themselves from infections and pregnancy.




2 thoughts on “Abstinence, Homeless, Aids..

  1. I agree completely that more sexual education for young students can be beneficial in the fight agains HIV, AIDS, and other STDs. It is crazy to observe how segregated the groups are when considering “risk groups.” It is even more thought provoking to wonder how something as evasive and prevalent as HIV and AIDS can even be thought of as contained within groups.

  2. upluto: Remember that when you quote a source you must not only provide the author but also the page number after the quote. Early on you say “In my opinion, it needs to become on the individual level, rather than the group level which can lead to rejecting certain types of people.” Do you see any value on targeting certain populations (may also be called “risk groups”)? For example, if in Atlanta in the 80’s middle class gay white men were who was showing up at Grady and other places with HIV, would it have made sense to spend limited funds on safer sex education doing outreach at straight bars in the West End or even maybe rural parts of Southern Georgia? I’m just playing devil’s advocate here. What is the happy medium? How do we target the communities that need information/resources/education without leaving other folks out? How do we recognize that sexual community and injection drug communities are not discrete communities?

    Lastly, use the term “homeless people” rather than just “homeless.” (I am referring to your sentence “She is HIV/AIDS positive like many homeless in downtown Atlanta.”

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