Gay Men Increasingly View AIDS as Less ‘Threatening’ Than in Previous Years
Gay men are not perceiving HIV/AIDS "as threatening as they once did," a view that may be leading to a rise in HIV infection rates among this population, according to a new study of gay men in San Francisco, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Stephen Morin of the University of California-San Francisco AIDS Research Institute and colleagues conducted a study of 55 gay and bisexual men from San Francisco and asked them about the perception of HIV/AIDS in the gay community. The study showed that "[g]ay men don't find HIV as threatening as they once did" because advertisements for AIDS drugs "are seen as glamorizing life after [HIV] infection" and there is an "increased acceptance of unprotected sex." Survey participants "expressed concern" that ads for antiretrovirals paint a more positive picture of HIV infection and should be "counterbalanced with images of men suffering from drug side effects." In addition, there has been a "deterioration" of "social support" among gay men regarding safe sex and HIV prevention, according to Morin. Men in the survey recommended a new public AIDS campaign that "encourag[es] gay men to talk with their friends about HIV and dispel some of the myths." Ads could be placed on television, in magazines, on bus shelters, in bars and in sex clubs, participants said, adding that one possible slogan could be "Friends Can Be Good Medicine -- Talk About HIV." The San Francisco Health Department is preparing a new awareness campaign that should be ready by next year, according to Steven Tierney, director of HIV prevention for the health department (Heredia, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/22). The Chronicle does not reference the journal where the study is published.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.