HIV And Gay-On-Gay Shaming

As HIV becomes a more and more managable disease and the horror of the 80s AIDS epidemic slides further into history, younger gay men are treating the disease as a divisive stigma rather than a uniting issue, writes Peter Staley at the Huffington Post:

StaleyHere are salvos from a new battle: Calling a young, HIV-negative gay man a "Truvada whore" simply for choosing a prevention option with a higher efficacy rate than condoms. Becoming indignant when someone says AIDS is still a gay problem. Turning to the police when you find out the guy that just jilted you is HIV-positive. Putting "I'm clean, ub2" in your online profile. Joining digital stonings via online comment sections when a 20-something dares to come out as HIV-positive. HIV-negative guys barebacking with those who tell them they are negative and shunning the few brave ones who admit they're positive.

Staley analyzes this internal war among gay men, concerned that the war against HIV-related stigma is lost and can only be prevented from getting worse.

He adds:

It might surprise today's younger gay men to learn that there was very little HIV-related stigma between us during the early years of the crisis. If anything, I felt the opposite of stigma when I publicly disclosed my status in the late '80s. Gay men with HIV received communal love and support. Once the gospel of safe sex was firmly entrenched, even sexual shunning became rare. Maybe it was our numbers, with upwards of half of New York's and San Francisco's gay men being HIV-positive by 1985. Maybe it was because many of us couldn't hide it, as our HIV painfully manifested as AIDS. Maybe it was our communal fighting back, as we rose up against a government that was ignoring our suffering.

Regardless of the reasons, we felt like one community. We were all living with HIV, regardless of status. I realize this view is skewed. I lived in a city where the social norms were being heavily influenced by ACT UP and other community responses to the crisis. The beginnings of gay-on-gay HIV-related stigma could be easily found in other cities and towns back then. But now it seems to be the norm, regardless of location.

Staley does offer some hope and suspects that while the fight against ignorance-induced stigma is lost, the fight against HIV itself is not, citing the eradication of smallpox and near-eradication of Guinea worm disease as a future outcome for HIV provided ALL tools of prevention are used.

In the end, after HIV is defeated, he says,

[T]here will be two kinds of people remembered: those who fought to end it, and those who slowed us down.

What do you think? Is there a way to end HIV stigma? And are there more elements contributing to stigma than the ones Staley has named?

Read Staley's full piece here.

(image – Peter Staley in the HIV Equal campaign)


  1. Matt27 says

    I still wish men would use condoms. It won’t spoil the passion. Taking care of yourself is never stupid.

  2. Marcus J. Hopkins says

    So, I’m all about not shaming Truvada users, but right off the bat, this guy states an incorrect fact:

    Truvada does NOT have a higher efficacy rate THAN condoms; it has a higher efficacy rare when COMBINED WITH safer sex practices (including correct and consistent use of condoms).

    When you start off an article by providing factually incorrect information, you lose credibility.

  3. Kenneth says

    His piece is spot on, but the sad part is that it isn’t just the 20 somethings, it has become most of the community, including those who are old enough to remember the beginnings.

  4. bravo says

    I came out in the early 90s, and I did not see much of the communal support that Staley remembers from the 80s. I had friends who contracted HIV in the early 90s, and the level of judgment against them by other gay men was astonishing.

  5. andy says

    You want to know why stigma is worse than ever? Look in the mirror! The over 80% of us gay men who don’t have a 100% preventable disease are sick of hearing about it!
    “By all means, let’s keep fighting it, if only to keep it from getting worse.”
    I hate to break it to you but your fighting is what’s making it worse. If PWH were dealt with more compassionately in 80s than now maybe it’s because THERE HAS BEEN 30 YEARS OF KNOWING HOW TO PREVENT IT! I think what I’m most sick of is the selfishness and entitlement. So many poz are trying to trick and guilt neg guys to have bb sex with them not giving a damn about the public health, just their own desires. “Stigma” is the trump card used to get their way. Then there’s the poaching of limited medical services and funds because HIV demands it be prioritized over far worse diseases that aren’t preventable. While you’re demanding insurance companies and government agencies cut you your disproportionate slice of the pie, you’re online bragging about how you’re healthier than most neg guys!

  6. Edgar Carpenter says

    People like @Andy, who inaccurately generalizes about big groups of people from the actions of small numbers of the group, and @Douglas and @Knock, who think in narcissistic or right-wing sound bytes, are examples of the problem.

    There have always been gay men who have had a difficult time working out how to have gay sex in a way that they can be comfortable with, because of the attitudes about sex and other bodily functions they retain from their upbringing.

    Those men with narrow definitions about what’s acceptable sex for themselves also tend to condemn other gay men who have different sexual habits. The words they use sometimes sound like quotes from their mommies or their sunday school teachers.

    I don’t think that’s going to change – the prudish young men who try to shame other gay people today are thinking in the same ways as the prudish young men who tried to shame their fellow gay men 45 years ago, when I first came out. I was told back then that the same behavior had been happening for at least the 40 previous years, and I suspect it goes back for centuries.

  7. Edgar Carpenter says

    @Andy – most men I’ve known who got HIV in the last 30 years got it from men they believed were HIV negative. Often from men who they believed they were in a monogamous relationship with. They were not acting irresponsibly or badly given the facts they thought were true.

    The fact that there are some narcissistic poz guys out there spreading it around only means that those specific guys are out there, and gay men need to be wary of them.

    The fact that someone is HIV does not mean they are irresponsible, immoral, sluttish or otherwise wicked. It just means that somehow they contracted HIV.

  8. Grady says

    Totally wrong about there being no HIV-related stigma between gay men back in the early days of the epidemic. There was a movement in the mid 80’s in S.F. wherein younger guys tried to segregate themselves from the older, disease ridden gay men by having private “boy parties”. You couldn’t get in if you were over 25. They also tried to differentiate themselves from the older guys by rejecting the “Castro clone” look, replacing it with a clean shaven, clean cut GQ look. Fortunately, this kind of stuff ended with the rise of ACT UP, & younger activists joining their older brothers.

  9. Manroar says

    People with HIV deserve respect and love like anyone else in this world. It’s a shame that the stigma continues. I remember being a boy and having my father’s friend, who was dying of AIDS, lash out and berate the world over their silence and hate. It will always stick in my mind the depth of the stigma.

  10. enchantra says

    You have a duty to disclose your HIV status to a person you want to have sex with. The routine of “I think that everyone should always protect himself and assume that others are HIV positive.” is something you are entitled to do for yourself, but you have no right to put another person at a known risk.

    Simply put: safer sex is better than unsafe sex. Safer sex with a responsible person who was HIV negative on recent examination is safer than safer sex. Safer sex with a known positive man is more dangerous than safer sex with a man who has been tested and is negative.

  11. B says

    The gay community (especially gay men) has been tearing each other down for decades. If you are not hiv-, young, pretty, smooth and look like you stepped off the pages of an Abercrombie & Fitch catalog, then you are not worth knowing, admiring or befriending. God forbid somebody might be a little different. Just read the comments on this blog from day to day. Lots of nasty, shallow, shallow, shallow people on here and in our community. We need to pull together rather than judge each other. But my experience tells me, I might as well be speaking to a wall.

  12. Mark Twain says

    How sad to read an article denouncing ignorance, while not correcting the citation from Peter Staley in the Huffington Post, about Truvada being more efficient THAN condoms. As Markus J. Hopkind points out, this is incorrect. Truvada is a new name for old drugs, which big pharma tried to impose to ALL men having sex with men, by making lots of media noise around a study about serodiscordant (where one has HIV and the other not) Heterosexual couples…. I don’t remember the exact figures but it was in the order of: out of 2000 serodiscordant couples, you got 20 seroconversion among the 1000 couples using condoms and 1 out of 1000 among those using Truvada…. This was converted into a false 95% more efficient because 1 / 20 = 5%, hence … Nothing. This is not science, it is marketing promotion. You don’t have 20 times more chance to get HIV using condoms compared to using Truvada. First the study was about heterosexual couples….. Second they where allegedly faithful : not surfing craigslist. Third 1/20 is NOT 95% better. In one group you got 20/1000 = 2% seroconversion, in the other group you got 1/1000 = 0,1% seroconversion. The experience among these groups, over the period, was : 2% risk with condoms (98% efficient) …. 0,1% risk with Truvada ( 99,9% efficient…for HIV only) – a 1,9% improvement of risk… for HIV only.
    Now do you want to take a highly toxic drug, with huge and increasing so called side-effects, for the rest of your life, for a 1,9% improvement of your risk ? (and I’m not mentionning the costs).
    The Truvada campaign is made over misrepresentation of the true meaning of propabilities and over fears. Most people don’t understand probabilities (including all politicians and most doctors) so it is easy to focus people’s attention on seemingly true but scientificaly false conclusions. In the case of Truvada it creates another pharma money grab, it lowers the confidence in condoms efficiency which is bad for public health. Remember only Condoms ARE without side-effects.

  13. Mags says

    This conversation proves one point and one point only: The lack of compassion between human beings.

    We wonder how certain countries cannot just live in peace. How people feel the need to pick on petty things and stir up hatred, and how governments vote easily laws denying basic human rights. Simply put, because some feel the need to pettily prove their superiority over others.

    This is how hate speech starts and feeds into the prejudiced monster living within us, how It could easily grow so powerful as to change powerful rulings, and unapologitically cause harm, even “justifiable murder” in the eyes of the prejudiced law.

    This stupid division within the gay community over who’s sicker and who is healthier is ridiculous and absurd. We all know this could be used against the community to persecute us, to take us back to the days where being gay was a shameful secret, for gay equaled diseased.

    So stop your damned stupid bickering, get your heads out of your asses, and stop acting like the damned GOP you love ridiculing on this site: does it take a member of your family suffering for you to finally manage some f**king Empathy?

  14. Edgar Carpenter says

    @enchantra you say “Safer sex with a known positive man is more dangerous than safer sex with a man who has been tested and is negative.”

    I always use condoms and gloves, but if I were going to go bare I’d rather do that with a poz guy who has an undetectable viral load than with a sexually active man who was recently tested and came back HIV negative.

    Why? Because there is at least an 8 week time-lag between being infected and testing positive on the antibody-based tests that everyone thinks of as HIV tests. So my chances of getting HIV from a recently infected man who also has a recent negative HIV test result (these guys are VERY infectious) are higher than getting HIV from a man with his HIV under good control.

    This is not a theoretical situation or a theoretical conclusion – I’ve known around 20 men over the years who’ve contracted HIV from men who had also had very recent negative HIV test results.

    As for your claim that an HIV person having unprotected sex is actually attempting murder, with HIV as the weapon – well, that’s just a hysterical response to your own fear, it’s not a rational response to a real situation.

  15. Bill says

    How funny and sad it is that Staley lists as an example of HIV stigma “Putting “I’m clean, ub2″ in your online profile.”

    What is so utterly pathetic about this is that Staley just assumes that it is completely normal for gay people to have “your online profile” which you use to facilitate multiple, loveless sexual encounters with complete strangers. He doesn’t feel the need to qualify this or explain it, nor does he say “an online profile.” No, he simply refers to “your online profile” as if every gay male reader will know what he is talking about and identify with it. For Staley, that’s just how life is for a gay person.

    He is a sick product of a sick subculture. When the history of HIV is written, it is folks like him – urban, gay males from the 1970s and 1980s – who created a subculture grounded in loveless sex with multiple partners, who will bear a lot of the blame.

  16. Neil/Portland says

    How sad it is to read these comments, as if the way to live a healthy life is to have sex with HIV-infected persons with an undetectable load, or to take Truvada or to sero-sort or to simply erase the problem by declaring everyone HIV equal or to follow any of the dozen other tactics tossed about.

    If you have a slab of deadly plutonium in your living room, the way to deal with the problem is to get rid of the plutonium or get out of the house for good. The solution is not to treat the plutonium as a fixed feature of life and work around it by wearing a face mask or taking meds for radiation sickness or touting the plutonium to guests as a unique feature of the house.

    You cannot live a life f’ing large numbers of people you don’t know. It will make you sick. It was causing early death pre-AIDs and it is what turned what might have been a minor outbreak into a pandemic. You can accept this and change or you can spend your shortened life looking for ways to live next to plutonium.

  17. KevinSF says

    Being HIV negative is morally superior to being HIV positive. The same way having an 8 inch penis is morally superior to all those with less than 8 inches and those with 6 pack abs are morally superior to guys beer guts. So lets shame everyone that has HIV, less than 8 inches or a 33+ inch waist. Now, who are those horrible a**holes that think gays are shallow?

  18. Mags says

    @WTF Thank you.

    @Kevin, I’m about to confiscate your gay-licious card, for every b*tch loving peen knows that an 8-inch d*ck is not worth sh!t if you don’t know how to use and move it.

    That being said and fun snark aside, Human Beings living with AIDS or are HIV pos are not things like plutonium. These are not the Stone Age nor Dark Ages, we treat sick people with respect and dignity, and we teach them how to go on with their lives living theirs fully with respect.for themselves and others. HIV is now a fact of active sex life. You use protection when you opt for casual sex, thinking that casual sex isn’t healthy is quite at odds with

  19. Mags says

    Wow, my comment got oddly … Cut off. Quickly now, casual sex is healthy, so is abstinence if that is your choice, so is monogamy. To think differently and that casual sex is punishable is quite at odds with the times.

    I am straight and use protection until I am in a monogamous relationship where both my partner and I have been tested. The thought of not using condoms is beyond me. I don’t care if you think you are positive or negative, for I am quite positive that we wonct be having sex if you won’t agree at keeping me safe. Period. Why isn’t everyone doing the same? Or being encouraged to do the same?

  20. Zell says

    I used to be the type of liberal who would eat articles like this up, and I’m not saying that it doesn’t have merit, but I am getting very tired of article after article telling me how I should feel and react toward things. Huffington Post is particularly egregious about this. Let me form my own opinions, please, and if you want to change my mind about something, do it with your actions.

  21. Tom says

    I found out I was positive in ’89 and never felt the love from negative guys, quite the opposite. I was so shunned I had to lie about my status just to have sex(one guy put on 2 condoms after telling him)! Mind you noone ever contracted HIV from me since my viral load was nil, so there is just allot of fear out there which is a big turn off.

  22. andy says

    Tom exemplifies the selfishness and entitlement I spoke of earlier. “I had to lie about my status just to have sex.” Because your personal pleasure is more important than people’s right to know the risks they’re taking.

  23. Jay says

    Why don’t we put our effort in finding a cure? becoming numb to a disease isn’t the answer.

  24. Merv says

    The sad reality is that there exists in the gay community a sick subculture of hyper-promiscuity where it’s considered perfectly acceptable to knowingly infect someone. In their twisted morality, protecting yourself is condemned as “sexual shunning.” A naive and inexperienced young person foolishly trusting his partner is assumed to be consenting to infection.

    Fortunately, there’s now a much more effective defense against their sociopathy than just condoms and crossed fingers. Before every encounter with a new partner who represents himself as negative, insist on a home HIV test. Yes there are some limitations, such as the post-infection window, and they don’t eliminate the need for condoms, but they can help expose committed sociopaths. If they’re clearly hiding something, let people know. Nobody has the right to unknowingly infect someone. If we start taking it seriously again, we can stop the spread of HIV in its tracks.

  25. Merv says

    Tom is the type of sociopath who needs to be exposed. He has no way of knowing he hasn’t infected someone. And he has no right to decide someone else’s acceptable risk level for him.

  26. JackFknTwist says

    Is there no topic/cause at all which we gays won’t exploit to goad and vilify each other ?

    What a crowd of sanctimonious old granny comments.

    Peter Sealy fought in the very trenches of the epidemic……i listen to what he has to say with respect.
    We all know there are bad self obsessed jerks out there.
    Let’s not make these nasties the standard to judge all the behaviour of the rest of us.

  27. Knock says

    Being compassionate does obligate me to have unprotected sex with someone. Anyone who puts their own health second to the feelings of someone they just met in a bar or online is an idiot, and they get what they deserve.

    This ‘stigma’ isn’t the stigma of the ’80s and early ’90s, which stemmed from ignorance of the disease (you can get AIDS from water fountains that gays use!) it’s real choices based on decades of research and the effects played out in real life (unprotected sex will spread HIV and other STI/Ds).

  28. JMC says

    omfg @ Tom revealing himself to be the type of sick narcissistic liar that makes people scornful of + men and then turning around to try to play the victim

  29. booka says

    I lived through the 70’s and 80’s, and here in LA I saw HUGE prejudice and intolerance to those that were HIV+. Since then the generations have come and gone, and each one seems to think that they know everything, behave perfectly, and have ALL the answers. The “Knee jerk” Generation, and all those that have come since, play the same game, jacked up in different attitudes and justifications. When your identity is based on sexuality, primal nature can not be too far off, no matter how you dress it up. In that respect, not much has ever really changed. Back then, if you happened to come up with full blown AIDS, then and only then, has the years seen development of a form of compassion and support, but, those battles were won only with such enormous causalities (it’s still hard to think of it as a victory). The “Gay Community” in all it’s multihued variations in general terms, has always, and will always, feature a gang of self absorbed, mean spirited, intolerant Fish-wives, packing around purses filled with rocks to facilitate any available public stoning. Those are the “Andy’s” and their ilk. Those so invested in ‘blame’ and proving they know so much better, as to be above reproach…for them there is no “Community”, at least any that has respect or compassion for anyone not in their mirror. AIDS showed me one thing more clearly than anything else in the past 35 years; that it is ALL of our responsibility, to act and think beyond these general terms, to temper your actions and opinions towards each other individually, with the goal of being personally responsible for your OWN actions, while STILL fostering respect, understanding and love (regardless of Sero-status, or how “Hawt” someone might be). That guy you just judged, put down, dismissed, or saw as less than “clean”…he is YOU.

  30. Charlie says

    I am not sure I fully grasp what the author of this article is trying to get at but I will make a few comments anyway. First off, in the early years of the epidemic many people were infected before the virus was even recognized. There was a lot of fear and discrimination and the gay community had to get together to care for our own.

    Now HIV is more like lung cancer. Most people who get lung cancer get it as a result of smoking. There is hardly anyone alive that doesn’t know the risks of smoking. Being diagnosed is a tragedy for the individual and their family and friends. But the larger community doesn’t have a lot of sympathy for someone who gets sick as a result of their own actions. By the same token, everyone knows the risks of unprotected sex. And sero-conversion is a major tragedy for the individual and those close to them. But you don’t get sympathy like 30 years ago. And just as everyone who gets lung disease isn’t a smoker everyone who gets HIV has been negligent. Getting HIV from rape (it happens) makes you a victim. Getting it from unprotected sex makes you a volunteer.

    As far as eliminating HIV goes, without a vaccine it is as likely as eliminating gonorrhea, syphilis or TB.

  31. Knock says

    (The ‘does’ in my post above should be ‘doesn’t’. Switch to Disqus already, Towle.)

    It should also be said there was little compassion and tolerance toward gay men in the leather/kink/fetish community in the 80s, as they and their activities were seen (perhaps rightly so) as high-risk.

  32. Merv says

    @BOOKA @CHARLIE The other day I lent my car to a friend without telling him it had bad brakes. He couldn’t stop and drove it off a cliff, but really it’s his own fault. He should have known that some cars have mechanical problems and inspected it first if he was concerned. I don’t feel any responsibility at all. But at least I’ll feel a bit of pleasure when I cash the insurance check.

  33. Mark Adnum says

    Peter Staley wants a return to “one community” filled with “communal love and support”? That’s certainly a change from his last Huffington Post article, where he told his readers that his opinion of HIV Negative men (the overwhelming majority of Staley’s “community”) was so low that they don’t even deserve to have their c*cks sucked. He wrote:

    “Whose d*ck is riskier to suck — mine, or the guy telling you he’s HIV negative on Grindr? He might even think he’s negative, but became infected shortly after his last HIV test, and therefore has a viral load count through the roof. Even if he tested last week, he could be newly infected during the “window period” before an HIV test can find antibodies needed for a positive result.

    Bottom line: You can’t have safer oral sex with a “negative” guy because you can never know for certain that he is in fact negative.”

    If you want to fight fire with fire, go right ahead. But you can’t make that choice and then complain when the people you’re insulting return the favour.

  34. Joe in Ct says

    The HIV Equal campaign is misguided and potentially harmful. We are not all HIV Equal. It’s especially disturbing that some people need to minimizes the very real health implications of becoming HIV positive in order to feel better about their own status. Yet that’s exactly what this campaign seeks to do. Frankly, I think it’s evil.

  35. pecos bill says

    The embarrassing fact that gay men are the #1 vector of HIV in the Western world despite knowing for three decades how it’s spread is the reason why I’m mostly in the closet.

  36. Bill says

    @Mark Twain: when you wrote, “The experience among these groups, over the period, was : 2% risk with condoms (98% efficient) …. 0,1% risk with Truvada ( 99,9% efficient…for HIV only) – a 1,9% improvement of risk… for HIV only,” you showed a complete lack of understanding of probability and even elementary mathematics.

    For a small enough number of sex acts that the chance of an infection is small, you’d have to do it 20 times more if on Truvada to reach the same risk factor that you would have with a condom, given your numbers.

    Since Truvada is expensive and there are only so many dollars to go around, the obvious thing to do is to get the most sexually active people to use Truvada and everyone (them included) to use condoms. That is, if your goal is to reduce the number of infections rather than call people silly names or make “moral” judgments that might make the “righteous” feel superior but that won’t save any lives.

    If the recommendation sounds odd to anyone, I’ll refer them to a physics paper some years ago which explained why the Melissa virus (a computer virus) hadn’t died out even though enough computers had anti-virus software that blocked it installed that the virus should have died out according to epidemiological models. The reason was a network of computer connections (links of who talked directly to whom) were scale-free networks because of the ‘hubs’ (computers with unusually large numbers of connections), a protective measure had to be 100% effective to kill off the virus. Networks representing sexual contacts are approximately scale free, with a few people having a very large number of partners compared to the average, and that suggests that protecting the most sexually active people would benefit everyone.

  37. Bill says

    Note: someone else is posting as “Bill” too – the comment immediately above and a previous one are by two different individuals.

  38. Javier says

    In my experience I prefer to play safe to not have to worry about possible exposure to HIV. It just seems like the most logical option. More people seem to be more comfortable about revealing their status, but the stigma is still present so some folks are dishonest about their status. Insisting on bb with someone you do not know very well just seems like a deal breaker for me. If we (as a community) are aware of how this is transmitted it just seems to me that we should try and protect ourselves in order to live a long and healthy life.

  39. Zipper says

    Stigma is a losing healthcare strategy. If you want more HIV/AIDS keep up the stigma. If you dispute this, do some googling and get educated.

    When we judge our community harshly in this manner we are no better than the religious right who harm us. We cause anguish to our own, who suffer already. Nearly half of the 20% of poz MSM re unaware that they are positive. One in 5 of us is positive. Half of all college age men, at today’s rate, will be poz in their lifetime. Everyone who is positive was negative once, and mistakes can happen that result in becoming positive. Even without what the judgmental on here consider irresponsible behavior.

    I became positive from the very first man I ever had sex with, and we were in a long term monogamous relationship, before some of you were born.

    So I would say spare me your judgment, but really, spare our community. It does not help. It actually makes the epidemic worse.

  40. Rafa in Toronto says

    Premise: Companies that make and sell HIV drugs have a massive economic interest in the failure of safe sex campaigns. Every time a seroconversion happens in the first world, the new convert becomes a lifetime consumer of drugs that can cost over a 1000$ a month. Without assuming that companies allow themselves to be compelled by that incentive, I wonder whether the HIV organizations they often work with have mechanisms in place to protect against this potential conflict of interest undermining staffer sex campaigns and public health.

  41. Rafa in Toronto says

    When I stop to think about it, The economic incentive drug companies HIV drug companies have towards continued transmission of HIV is unlike anything else I can imagine. It’s comparable to this bizarre hypothetical scenario: Imagine that there existed a new, mysterious, cellphone provider alongside Verizon, sprint, AT&T, T-mobile… Let’s call this company “H-viral”. The weird thing is, if ever you pick up a call from someone with a phone on the H-viral network, your own cellphone account gets automatically transfered over to the “H-viral” network in perpetuity, and H-viral charges $1500 per month. Unfortunately, that process is non-reversible, and un-appealable.

    The only way to protect oneself from the risk presented by incoming unknown numbers is to screen the call via an app called condom-app, but some people find that a hassle, so they don’t bother screening their calls through the app, they just pick them up directly.

    And finally there exist PSAs on television and the Internet, alerting people about the steep contract conditions of a H-viral account, but H-viral helps design those public service announcements…

    I know the above metaphor is flawed, and yet, I think there is some truth to it.

  42. Bill says

    @Rafa in Toronto : and the insurance (private companies or government, depending on what country you live in) have a massive economic interest in making safe-sex campaigns work. Insurance companies make money by charging premiums and paying out as little as possible.

  43. Rafa in Toronto says

    Bill, but as far as I’ve seen, insurance companies don’t help shape the public attitudes about HIV and safe sex, through advertising campaigns. Earlier, someone mentionned how ad campaigns in gay publications de-emphasize condoms, desensitize people to the disadvantages of having HIV, or even “glamorize” it. I have no doubt that part of the reason for this is an attempt to be sensitive to people who have HiV, but I’m pointing out that if these ads fail to prevent new infections, drug companies actually gain economically from that.