In a bid to draw attention to complacency within the gay community of Southern California over what public health officials see as an epidemic that continues to primarily involve gay and bisexual men in that region, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center has begun a controversial new campaign.
The intent of the “HIV is a gay disease” campaign is to wake the gay community up to the fact that AIDS is still a big problem, but for many the campaign is a grim reminder of the stigmas, discrimination and bigotry that made the early days of the AIDS battle so difficult. Others are worried that the specific association of AIDS with the gay community may make heterosexual men and women less likely to come forward if they have the disease.
The Center’s campaign may be well-intentioned in trying to reach a niche group of people, but unfortunately sends a counterproductive, stigmatic message of ghettoization. I’m not a fan.
Said Michael Weinstein, head of the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation: “I applaud the desire to have more personal responsibility in the gay community, but this is not the way to achieve it. AIDS is not a gay disease. It’s not an African American disease; it’s not a Latino disease. It is a disease of the immune system.”
HIV Ads Embrace, and Stun, Audience [latimes]