Monday, June 2, 2008

HIV/AIDS: Article from 1987

One of my dear coworkers was cleaning out some folders the other day (spring cleaning time, it seems, for people, now that it's finally warm), and came across an intact copy of a Reader's Digest article entitled AIDS: The Plague that Knows No Boundaries. Dated June 1987.

She thought of me and brought it in. I got really excited about it, but was a little disappointed that it focuses almost exclusively on the growing African crisis... per the article, where "the official total of AIDS cases in Africa was only 2627." You read that right folks, but the article delves into the interesting politicking that went into admitting the problem, and the mass amounts of denial that was going on (and, btw, still goes on for many of the countries... ever heard of
Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang from South Africa? or President Thabo Mbeki, who sympathizes?)

Anyways, I'll make you a copy if you ask real nicely. However, I thought I'd highlight this (from the addenda to the article entitled What You Must Know About AIDS):
How Can You Protect Yourself?
Avoid having multiple sexual partners. Noninfected couples who have maintained a mutually faithful relationship for at least five years are not at risk for AIDS through sexual transmission. Abstain from sex with people whose activities put them in a high-risk group.

If you are not absolutely certain that neither you nor your sexual partner is carrying the virus, you must take protective measures. Either avoid penetrative intercourse (vaginal, oral, or anal), or use a condom, which prevents contact with semen and vaginal secretions. The condom should be worn even during foreplay if there is a chance of genital-to-genital contact. A condom does not guarantee protection but, used correctly, and each time, it sharply reduces the risk.
There's a little more, but two things strike me: 1) that Reader's Digest would be so detailed and talk about anal sex, and 2) that the message has not changed in twenty years, except for some tweaking. I once said we need to change the message, make it simpler, but people looked at me and said "It's simple ... wear a condom, how much simpler can you get."

I mean, I guess. But no marketing campaign that lasts for 20 years works. Even Coca-Cola had to change its marketing a few times.

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