The Dark Ages of HIV/AIDS History
The history of HIV/AIDS in the United States is rife with contention and controversy. During the very early years of public awareness, before any robust knowledge base on the virus existed, HIV was grossly misnamed as “GRID” – Gay Related Immune Deficiency. What motivated the use of this biased terminology was the prevalence of the virus in various urban gay communities in the 1980’s, which only fueled rampant homophobia and violence towards such enclaves. Not until the virus was discovered in recipients of tainted blood transfers, injection drug users, and persons of every identity did the massive push towards public and federal advocacy gain momentum. Today, celebrities and high profile public leaders are involved in outreach and education efforts regarding research, treatment, and prevention.
According to the CDC, MSM (men who have sex with men) and communities of color are adversely affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. However, it is mistakenly believed that being a member of such groups is deterministic of negative characteristics and behaviors that transmit the virus – vitriolic language and attitudes detract from the structural causes and socioeconomic contexts that fuel public health issues. The stigma and violence directed towards the gay community in the early years of the epidemic discouraged individuals from seeking treatment and hindered the proliferation of organized prevention efforts. Moreover, systemic poverty and the lack of robust health infrastructure widened the gap between those seeking treatment and information from those who could provide it. In the recent years, there has been a paradigm shift in discussion of HIV/AIDS to treating it as a tragic byproduct of societal oppression and inequality.
Fighting Stigma with Information
Though advocacy has progressed far from the state of affairs of 20 years ago, there needs to be greater solidarity among all communities across the lines of sexual orientation, race, and socioeconomic status. Awareness and prevention are the highest points on the agenda when it comes to fighting any disease. Especially for those who identify or interact with groups that are considered to be at a higher risk for contracting HIV, or participate in activities that spread the virus, regular testing is essential for harm reduction and early intervention. Testing remains one of the important personal initiative for individuals to take when preventing the spread of HIV. Empower yourself and those close to you by seeking help and knowledge, rather than taking your chances.
Find an HIV Testing Center Today! Click the FindTheBest logo below to access a great data driven tool to find a quality, free HIV test near you.
Or if you’re in Portland join CHATpdx’s Youth Exclusive drop in and testing night! Monday (6/24) from 3:00 – 7:00 PM at Pivot! http://pivotpdx.org/
– Susan Li
FindTheBest is a company based in Santa Barbara, CA that builds unbiased, data-driven comparison engines. Their Health Division is committed to creating innovative tools for navigating the important decisions regarding your health, including an STD testing clinic locator and a treatment center comparison tool. Susan joins the Health team from Columbia University in the city that never sleeps, ever. As an Economics and Asian American Studies major, she is dedicated to advancing social justice in all areas related to public health.