22.abbot.safesex - Salon.com Life | What ever happened to...

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http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/2005/02/25/aids/print.html To print this page, select "Print" from the File menu of your browser Public-service card from the Gay Men's Health Crisis. What ever happened to safe sex? Spurred by fears of a deadly new strain of HIV, the gay community is searching its soul over its dangerous new complacency about AIDS. - - - - - - - - - - - - A week after the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced the discovery of a deadly new strain of HIV -- a discovery later questioned by AIDS researchers -- the initial alarm heard around New York City has died down. It has been replaced by an intense public debate among activists and health officials, as well as serious soul searching among New York City's gay community. Interviews with 15 gay men this week found that while these New Yorkers were worried about being exposed to the potential new strain, they were more concerned with the decline of safe sex and AIDS awareness in their community, especially among those most at risk. For those old enough to remember the early days of the AIDS crisis in 1981-84, last week's headlines prompted a feeling of déjà vu. "There's a sense of, Goddamn it, why are people still doing this?" says Dan Cherubin, a 39-year-old librarian who works for a Dutch Agricultural Bank. "Seeing the news," he says by telephone, "made me think of Patient Zero in 'And the Band Played On,'" the first case of the Page 1 of 5 Salon.com Life | What ever happened to safe sex? 3/12/2007 http://archive.salon.com/mwt/feature/2005/02/25/aids/print.html
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"gay cancer" chronicled in Randy Shilts' landmark history of the AIDS crisis. Cherubin has lived in New York all his life and remembers those days well. One difference between then and now, he says, is that in the early days of the epidemic the safe-sex message was ubiquitous. "I remember going to bars and seeing big bowls of condoms everywhere," he recalls. "At Gay Pride parades they'd just throw those things at you. You don't see that anymore." Younger gay men, Cherubin says, have become complacent. He recently watched HBO's production of "Angels in America" with some friends who are in their early 20s. "They were shocked by the lesions, at the sense of being ill. They'd never seen what AIDS even looks like." And that, he says, scares him. "This is going to lead to someone not thinking about it." "It's hard for my generation to put a face to the disease," says Matt Grieves, a 24-year-old medical student with brown hair and piercing blue eyes, sitting in Café Big Cup in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood. "How can you be afraid of hell if you've never seen Satan?" Some say this complacency has spread with the cure. Since the development in the mid-90s of the retroviral drugs -- taken as a combination of pills commonly known as a "cocktail" -- AIDS has indeed become more manageable. And while patients have different reactions to the medications, most can keep
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22.abbot.safesex - Salon.com Life | What ever happened to...

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