Back in October of 2006, the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center launched an advertisement campaign targeting MSM's (Men Who Have Sex With Men) which had a message that "HIV is a gay disease". Now I knew back then that this sort of campaign was going to stir up some type of controversy.
Well as luck would have it in 2007, San Francisco will be scrutinizing their HIV ads specifically because of this advertisement and others similar to it according to the Bay Area Reporter. In an article by Matthew Bajko called, "SF HIV ads to be scrutinized in 2007", Bajko says that the opponents to these types of ads called them "fear-driven campaigns". As President/CEO of an AIDS Awareness organization I have a problem with statements such as that. I want to know how do campaigns targeting Gay men generate fear?!! How do HIV prevention campaigns such as "HIV Stops With Me" or "HIV is a gay disease" sparks fear into people? If anything, I'm glad that the Gay communities in those areas are trying to do its part in claiming this disease considering the fact that they still make up the majority of AIDS cases for those areas as well as here in our own Fresno County. Since many people already say "it's a Gay disease", why not tell it like it is. My concern is that with all the censoring of free speech (a First Amendment right last I looked) that it may stifle or hinder the Gay community's desire to want to get involved in the war against AIDS. I can see where other vulnerable groups such as women or African Americans may feel left out of the picture because of advertisements such as this but the fact of the matter is that MSM's still make up the majority of AIDS cases in this modern day of the epidemic. Somewhere down the line with the invention of condoms and advancements in HIV meds that Gay men have become silenced to this epidemic. While it is good that these things are around, they are not a 100% guarantee, they are just band-aids at best to the real solution, that of a cure. It is good that women, African Americans, and other ethnic groups have stepped up to the plate and have recognized the impact that AIDS has on their communities but the big bulk of this still falls on the shoulders of the Gay men including that of Fresno County! Don't think for just one second that because you're Gay and live in Fresno that the AIDS epidemic has no impact on you because it does. Fresno is the biggest city between L.A. and San Francisco and the strength of the Gay communities in these places in addressing AIDS will ultimately determine what kind of funding Fresno will have in regards to HIV/AIDS funds for Gay men here in Fresno County. And truth be told, AIDS is a Gay rights issue because as long as AIDS exist, the Gay community is not going to really move forward in it's advancement of itself. AIDS has put a halt to Gay rights back in the 80's and it will continue to drag the Gay community down until it steps back up and does it part in this war on AIDS.