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Alan Cumming: ‘There’ll be a new wave of AIDS deaths’

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  1. “Editor Matthew Todd said: “I think it’s incredibly important that HIV continues to be up there in the gay press. We have a piece by Cary James at GMFA in this issue saying we need to think about HIV and talk about it more, that we are all able to talk about sex so much…”

    Good for you Matt – that will secure GMFA’s advertising for the next 12 months then. Sod all good it will do for your reader’s health and well being, though, to read about GMFA’s insane PC approach to HIV prevention in your mag. Still, so long as they get a good plug for their new “explicit and dirty” – (c) Boyz – “safer sex” guide that they will handing out in force in Soho tomorrow, that’s makes it OK I guess.

    Continue misinforming your readers, Matt, and ignore what 80 percent-plus of gay men – your readers!! – are saying. Catering for the GMFA makes you a co-conspirator of the epidemic, because it is their policies that are enabling the spread of this terminal disease.

    At least other gay media are coming out and saying that HIV prevention aimed at gay men in the UK is broken and needs fixing before a whole new wave of gay men – numbering a good many Attitude readers, no doubt – become infected…

  2. Given an improvement in HIV-management options, this is sadly inevitable. We are no longer as scared of HIV as we were when Benetton show us the grim realities.

    What is more worrying though id the festish-isation of “bareback”. One only has to read one of the weekly ads to see dozen of adverts for porn films proudly advertising this genre. The magazines need to take a stand against this attempt to glamorize less-safe sex. Do we again need to shock those becoming sexually active with images of people dying a slow and painful death? If that’s what it is going to take, I say YES!

  3. John (Derbyshire) 21 Aug 2009, 12:04pm

    Does anybody know if Attitude magazine is still owned by Richard Desmond-porn king?

  4. Colm, the only argument I can think of for the HIV/AIDS educators glamming up sex while saying “be careful”, is that they have decided it is impossible to stop the sale of sex, i.e. the sex industry, i.e. the gay magazines, the gay advertising, the gay porno industry in the UK (and from abroad), the clubs, the saunas, the sex-clubs.

    At the moment we’re in a capitalist free-for-all, regardless of the recession. Greed and consumption is the permitted order and rule of the day. Unless the government simply outlaws the advertising of anything which arouses sexual excitement, the sex industry will continue as it is.

    So, the HIV/AIDS charities may be saying, look there are clubs all over town where men are being urged to go, strip naked, and f_ck all and sundry with abandon . . . so we have two options:

    1. tell people to ignore all sex-industry advertising
    2. go with the sex-industry, but try to get people to do it more safely.

    This is the only excuse I can locate for the kind of “education” that is being conducted.

  5. Robert James 21 Aug 2009, 12:24pm

    I think it’s very telling, not to mention gratifying, that Cumming’s new show will benefit the National Aids Trust rather than the sordid money grabbers GMFA and THT.

  6. @ John (derbyshire) – Attitude Magazine has been through a few owners since “Dirty” Desmond. It is now published by Trojan Publishing (http://www.trojanpublishing.co.uk/).

    @ Eddy. I’d never want to ban the sex-industry, nor advocate some kind of censorship. But I do want to counter the festishisation and perceived glamour of “bareback”. Put the real information out there and let the market decide.

  7. Colm, then our problem is trying to get the educators to drop their belief that they must work WITH the unstoppable sex industry. How can we get them to place a different kind of advert in a gay mag right beside an advert for an evening of horny sex in some London fetish club? It’s a moral argument, isn’t it.

    For example, what if we suggest to them, look, right beside that advert for the sex-club why don’t you just publish a bald list of quotes (like the ones I have published above) from people who have HIV and are on the chemotherapy?

    Can we motivate them to do it, to see the necessity of it?

    Are they bold enough and brave enough. Even DARING enough?

    Producing the sexy stuff they are is easy.

  8. Where is the epidemiological evidence that there will be a new wave of AIDS deaths?

    Where is the evidence that antiretroviral therapy has stopped working?

    As long as someone with HIV is promptly diagnosed and takes treatment THEY WILL NOT DIE OF HIV.

    It’s high time Pink News stopped publishing such inaccurate rubbish about HIV.

    It will do nothing to stop the continued spread of HIV amongst gay men, or the 400 or so HIV-related deaths we still have in this country every year, nearly all of which are related to late diagnosis.

  9. I am curious as to what medical qualifications Cumming possesses to make a statement to the effect that there will be a 2nd wave of Aids deaths?

    I like him and think he is a good actor but he is not an expert on this subject and his speculation should not be confused with fact. HIV diagnoses may be increasing but that is not evidence that more people will die from Aids. Medical experts now say that an early diagnosis coupled with consistent treatment leave HIV+ patients with a similar life expectancy to a HIV- person.

    So where is Alan Cumming getting his information>

  10. I am also curious about the mixed messages being sent about a HIV+ diagnosis. On the 1 hand if you are negative you hear all these horror stories about how awful a positive diagnosis is. But if you get diagnosed positive then the message changes and you hear about what a manageable, liveable condition it is.

    That surely is not helpful. A friend of mine was diagnosed a few years ago and was devastated as he had heard all the horror stories. Imagine his surprise when the message about his illness changed overnight. Suddenly it was all ‘Oh it’s not the end of the world… you’ll live another 30 years”

    Mixed messages.

  11. Vince, good point. Mixed messages indeed. The answer is the reality and the reality is conveyed in the “few” quotes which I have given above from HIV people who are on medication. The quotes are from postings made by a few HIV+ people during this month, August 2009. The archives at The Body are full of thousands and thousands of such posts from HIV+ people who are on medication. This is the reality. This is what needs to be shown and acknowledged.

    Please everyone, copy and paste the quotes given above in Comment No. 2. Slap them around the internet. The truth is the truth. If the HIV/AIDS educators won’t do it, then it is we who have to answer disinformation with THE FACTS.

  12. But Eddy – the quotes in message number 2 are specific to those people. And those people are suffering side effects so obviously they will have problems. However I imagine that there are thousands of other positive people who are having a much easier time and who are living productive, fulfilled lives.

    My view is that the safer sex message is very important but that the HIV prevention campaigns to date have sent a very negative message – namely ‘Trust nobody. Sex causes disease. Unsafe sex kills you. Sex requires a barrier’

    All these may be true to a certain extent but the biological reality is that during sex people want to connect to each other in the most intimate way possible and condoms don’t always factor into the equation and it is unrealistic to expect them to each and every time. Even in the late 80’s and early 90’s when an Aids diagnosis was a death sentence people continued to get infected. Now that there is effective (if lifelong) treatment it is simply not going to happen that HIV is not going to continue to exist.

    It is certainly not helpful for non-medical experts like Alan Cumming to make statements like he has when it is merely his opinion and not backed up by medical fact or even opinion.

  13. Vince, what outrageous PC bunkum you are peddling. The fact is no one knows how they may react to the mess, it is a lottery, so don’t get infected in the first place. And remember, safer sex is risky sex – only play safe, cos (read my lips) HIV IS NOT AN OPTION, EVER!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Sam – medical opinion is quite clear. If are diagnosed on time and you stick to your treatment programme then your life expectancy is similar to if you are HIV-. A HIV diagnosis today is a diagnosis of a serious chronic illness but a perfectly manageable illness.

    That is not PC bunkum. It is medical fact.

    Neither is it PC bunkum to point out how the safer sex campaigns have failed. As you say there is no reason why anyone SHOULD be infected. However even during the height of the panic during the 80’s and early 90’s people were still being infected.

    Not trying to be controversial – just pointing out the reality in a manner totally avoided by Alan Cumming.

  15. Vince, you sound very sure of what you are saying, however we must remember that these ARVs have only been around since the mid-90s. It’s a bit quick to be proclaiming that they allow people to live absolutely healthy lives for decades on end – particularly when thousands of HIV people on treatment are clearly saying, see the small sample of quotes, that life is bloody difficult for them! We cannot also ignore or roget the many reports that come in that make it clear that many HIV+ people are depressed and receiving treatment for depression. The depression is due to a number of factors: the continual presence of the toxic chemotheraphy within the body, the effect of HIV on the brain (there have been recent studies showing that HIV wages a relentless war on the brain). I’m pretty sure you are not in the picture. I have lost many dear friends to HIV/AIDS and so I think I am more into the reality of the situation than most.

  16. “My view is that the safer sex message is very important but that the HIV prevention campaigns to date have sent a very negative message – namely ‘Trust nobody. Sex causes disease. Unsafe sex kills you. Sex requires a barrier'”

    Are you for real Vince? IF ONLY HIV messages conveyed these important points. Open your eyes – GMFA release a porn brochure tomorrow that masquerades as a “safer sex” campaign. HIV campaigning is now upside down, back to front and inside out!!

  17. Has occurred to me overnight to ask those who proclaim that HIV drugs have now made everything hunky-dory and normal-as-before for people with HIV to bring forth their witnesses!

    Bring forth your masses of people who know they have HIV, on treatment or off, and let us hear THEIR thousands of voices telling us that life for them is absolutely fine and dandy!

    Isn’t it telling that on the other hot HIV thread at the moment, NOT ONE SUCH VOICE has stepped in with such a pronouncement?

  18. Brian Burton 22 Aug 2009, 3:43pm

    25,000 people died of AIDS by 1987, and that was in the USA. I wonder what the real total of dead from AIDS in the UK?

  19. Vince, I second Sam’s assertion that you spout utter bunkum. Instead of fostering the perception that ‘AIDS doesn’t
    mean the end of the world if you get it,’ and that being HIV+ just means taking a few pills a day and life’s a walk on the beach, the community should be told what they might LOSE if they get HIV. What you do get, if you’re unlucky, is six months in hospital on intensive chemo to treat an HIV-related cancer, diahorreah so common that if you pass a firm stool you send out emails to all your friends, less libido than a terracotta tortoise, resistance to meds, barely enough energy to make it through an afternoon without needing a nap every day, entrenched poverty and the associated depression and isolation, and all the stigma of ‘sero-apartheid’ and ignorance about ‘AIDS’ which the AIDS industry perpetuates. You stand to lose your relationship, lifestyle, social circle, career, savings, mortgage etc…

  20. Gary Leigh 23 Aug 2009, 9:38am

    For the record, over a two month period between June and August I attempted to submit my HIV/Aids article Killing us Softly to Joseph and, when he left Tris, at GT magazine, and Matthew at Attitude magazine. I waited weeks before resubmitting several times, but never had the courtesy of even an acknowledgement from any of them. I am grateful for Pink News, however, for exercising the freedom to run with it in its entirety – in hindsight the best possible medium for Killing us Softly as it has already been linked to dozens of other news web sites globally – and of course for putting its readers’ interests before its advertising profits.

    Alan Cumming is yet another person coming out of the wood work and who, like myself, attributes their negative HIV status to the scare campaigns of thew 1980s. HIV agencies who condemn the ice berg and tombstone campaigns for scaring a generation of gay men into abstince just don’t get it, do they? The whole point of these campaigns was that they were designed in a period when “HTLV-3″ was a new phenomenon and nobody knew the severity of this new “disease”: how contagious it was, how many people would die once infected (in the mid-1980s it was feared that tens of thousands of people, gay and straight, would be dying annually by 1990!), etc. In other words, the ice bergs and tombstones were pitched perfectly because they were intended to scare people into abstaining until more was known. Yes, that meant that people like myself and Alan had to forego certain carnal pleasures for several years, but it was a price worth paying for today our bodies are not chained to, or our health dependent on, prescribed dosages of toxic antiretrovirals, and we do not live with the depressing anxiety and uncertainty of when they may stop working or whether a lethal side effect from the drugs will see us off first.

    Over time, as more became known about the virus and people like Princess Diana paved the way in showing that it is, in fact, incredibly hard to acquire, most if not all those who abstained from sex in the grim days of the mid-1980s were back at it by the early 1990s and following the precautions as set down in the hardhitting safe sex adverts of the 1990s. Of course, safe sex eventually gave way to safer sex as HIV agencies refused to stop at safe sex and decided gay men needed the freedom to do what comes naturally, and proceeded to deceive a generation that it could be done safer by pulling out like porn stars and cumming outside, and sowed the seeds of today’s fertile climate where barebacking and all manner of HIV-enabling sexual activities are effectively encouraged by their refusal to reverse gear.

    And reversing gear does not necessitate a return to ice bergs and tombstones: just a return to “safe sex at all times” messages and campaigns that graphically and truthfully describe the realities of living with HIV that many experience, from complications with the antiretrovirals to acute depression to financial problems, isolation and more besides. Above all, do not fall for the lie that acquiring HIV is ok because it is totally manageable, you can live a normal lifespan and there will always be an endless supply on tap. This is propaganda that serves the interests only of the HIV agencies and the pharmaceutical companies.

    The gay media who peddle these myths by unquestioningly reprinting their press releases verbatim know at heart that there is an agenda at play here. If they simply banded together and refused to print ads and HIV programmes such as the sex courses that advocate safer sex, HIV prevention in the UK would be forced to change its approach and deliver more appropriate messages. It would mean the loss of several thousand pounds of ad revenue in the interim, but in the long run a healthier, more vital, empowered and self-respecting community would emerge. Is that really too large a price to pay?

  21. Didn’t the GMFA lose its HIV prevention funding and remit several years ago when the powers-that-be decided its campaigns were not working in gay men’s best interests? Why the hell are they still peddling their dangerous PC rhetoric/BS, and why are magazines like Attitude still turning to them as if they are the guardians and trustees of gay men’s health? Leave GMFA alone to swirl in the effluent of the underground sex scene where they seem so at home and where they have resorted to to top up their funding reserves, and let’s have some honest, unadulterated information that has not been passed through a PC-processing factory instead. As for being a “gay men’s health charity”, my complaint to trading standards for false advertising is in the post!

  22. I think that there two conflicting issues here. One is the undeniable medical advances in HIV treatment and care – which is a good thing. And, we can only hope that this trend will continue.

    The second, is the second is failure for HIV prevention to keep pace with the epidemic in the UK.

    The prejudice and cautiousness of the NHS to fund proper HIV prevention in inner London and outer London which are hotspots in Europe, Brighton, Manchester and the cities and a national campaign. At a local level it seems easier to address the needs of “young people” as a homogenous group and ignore gay men (both young and old).

    Quite rightly, targeting black communities who are disproportionally affected but then to neglect gay – black and white – men!

    THT have done a service in promoting testing. But, then what happens? Where are the services to make sure people don’t “live in poverty” ?

    Finally, we all have sex. So, shouldn’t safer sex be explained, promoted and be available to all?

  23. Vince: It is pretty common knowledge that if you catch HIV, it will knock ten years off your life. Fact. Simple as that.

    Also the regime of drugs and associated side effects is not one to be treated lightly. A lot has changed over the last 30 years, but a lot still remains the same. AIDS still kills. It hasn’t gone away. The only way people will start showing responsibility in sex again is when their friends and colleagues start dropping like flies.

  24. With its appalling attitude (sic) and sucking up to GMFA never again will I be purchasing a copy of Attitude, and I certainly won’t be flicking through GT again on a soft chair in Borders. Now that Tris Smith is editing GT it will no doubt swirl down the same gutter that he sent Pink Paper hurtling into, scaring away all its advertisers in the process.

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