A few months ago, there was an article in the Times about rising HIV infection rates among young men in NYC. It is a very disturbing statistical marvel.
"Over a five-year period, the number of new H.I.V. diagnoses in men under the age of 30 who have sex with other men increased by 33 percent, to 499 in 2006 from 374 in 2001. During the same period, the infection rate for men over 30 decreased by 22 percent."
There was an article in Forbes today citing the same statistics, but on a national level. This is just inexplicable and so, so disturbing. I am occupationally, and by my very nature, not a finger pointer, but in most cases there is no reason for these increases to be the case. When you read the literature, the increases in infection rates among young men who have sex with men are explained by the fact that HIV is now seen by many as a treatable chronic disease, and that many people believe there is a cure, or at least one on the horizon. Therefore, it is believed that there is no need for vigilance.
For some reason, as of late, I find myself swathed in plays related to the early days of the AIDS epidemic. First it was the watching, and rewatching, of Angels in America, which is beautiful and amazing, and I believe one of the great masterpieces of modern theatre (despite the fact that it is like days long). And then in an effort to buy this play at a discounted rate, I came upon The Normal Heart, another brilliant play written at the beginnings of the epidemic about the activism and utter desperation of this time.
Tomorrow is World AIDS Day. It is a time when communities take pause to remember those they have lost to the epidemic, and renew our dedication to stopping this. Nothing frightens me more than thinking about what this disease can do to someone, about the prospect of this happening to someone I love. But really when this happens to one of us, it happens to all of us.