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I think that it's possible for us to lobby Bill Gates, 
who did just announce that he's giving $10 million for 
AIDS vaccine research, without getting into the issue 
of whether people with AIDS "could have prevented it"
or "deserve" it. We gain nothing by perpetuating the 
idea that people with AIDS are to blame for their 

Several years ago, I worked in the outpatient HIV
clinic at the county hospital in Oakland, California.
Many of our patients were current or former IV drug
users, and their lives were not pretty. There were
people who were living in ways that made me want
to shake them and say "don't you know that you're
endangering yourself and others?" But mostly, what
I saw there were people. People who'd made a stupid 
mistake years before, and now were paying a terrible 
price for it; men who had been in denial about their 
sexuality, and therefore in denial about the risks
of their behaviors; people who had trusted the wrong
person (sometimes a spouse); people who didn't
understand that their behavior was putting them at
risk because, even though they'd heard of AIDS, they
had never been given explicit enough information to
understand how transmission could be prevented;
people who didn't care that they were at risk because
they didn't think they had a future anyway; people who
had lost control in the heat of the moment. All of us 
have done stupid, risky things in our lives; most of 
us don't die because of it.

Also, AIDS is now pretty well controlled in the US and
the rest of the industrialized world; but it is a terri-
fying public health crisis in many parts of Africa and 
Asia. There are parts of Africa where a huge proportion 
of the adult population is infected with HIV. And the 
drugs that are now enabling people to live longer and 
healthier with AIDS are either not available or too 
expensive for many people in Third World countries. For 
more, see http://www.villagevoice.com/specials/africa/.

And that's all I'm going to say on this topic.


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