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AIDS advocacy



Main article: HIV and AIDS misconceptions

Additional recommended knowledge

Contents

Patient Zero theory

Some advocates hold that the disease was introduced by a flight attendant named Gaëtan Dugas, referred to as "Patient Zero". Other advocates argue that there were cases of AIDS much earlier than initially known.

Inoculation theory

It has also been theorized that a series of inoculations against hepatitis that were performed in the gay community of San Francisco were tainted with HIV. Although there was a high correlation between recipients of that vaccination and initial cases of AIDS, this theory has never been proven.

Views of Randy Shilts

One of the best-known works on the history of HIV is And the Band Played On, by Randy Shilts. Shilts contends that Ronald Reagan's administration dragged its feet in dealing with the crisis due to homophobia, thus allowing the disease to spread and hundreds of thousands of people to needlessly die. This resulted in the formation of ACT-UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power by Larry Kramer.

This view is opposed by Reagan supporters who note (1) that Reagan poured millions of dollars into HIV research and (2) that Reagan's expressed views on homosexuality were benign or neutral; in a reminiscence by one of his daughters, he matter-of-factly described Rock Hudson as, "I think he'd rather be kissing a man."

Shilts also details the fact that the Red Cross refused to ban bisexual and gay men from donating blood at the request of the Centers for Disease Control early in the discovery of the epidemic to keep the blood bank industry from suffering shortages. Thus, tens of thousands of hemophiliacs and transfusion recipients were infected and died.

Some people think it's rather unlikely that the CDC would avoid screening out likely HIV carriers merely to prevent shortages. The risk of killing people by giving them a fatal disease would seem to outweigh the risk of reducing the blood supply slightly.

Americans vs. French

  Activists and critics of current AIDS policies allege that another preventable impediment to the attack on the disease was the academic elitism of "celebrity" scientists. Robert Gallo, an American scientist who was one of many to try to attempt to figure out if there was some kind of new virus in the people who were affected with the disease, became embroiled in a legal battle with French scientist Luc Montagnier trying to do the same thing. Gallo, too, appeared hung up on the possible connection between the virus causing AIDS and HTLV, a retrovirus that he had worked with previously. Critics claim that because some scientists (and biological research companies) wanted glory and fame, this held up progress on research and more people needlessly died. Eventually, after meeting, the French scientists and Gallo agreed to "share" the discovery of HIV.

Campaigns against "gay disease" label

Publicity campaigns were started in attempts to counter the often vitriolic and homophobic perception of AIDS as a "gay plague" and replace it with actual knowledge that would save lives. In particular this included the Ryan White case, the red ribbon campaigns, the celebrity dinners, the film of "And the Band Played On", the musical of "RENT", sex education programs in schools, television advertisements, etc. Announcements by various celebrities that they had contracted AIDS (including basketball star Magic Johnson and tennis player Arthur Ashe) were significant in making the general public aware of the dangers of the disease to everyone, as no disease is confined to one sexual orientation.

 
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "AIDS_advocacy". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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