Thursday, June 16, 2005

Shared Strengths, Shared Stigmas

In today's NY Times, an article on China's HIV prevention programs says they are modeled after New York City's programs from early in the crisis. Another article, published on, cites a report by Human Rights Watch that says HIV workers in China are routinely harassed, which I suppose would draw similarities between programs here and in China.

In the early 90's, I worked in HIV prevention programs, one in particular, that worked primarily with IV drug users. Instrumental in getting New York City to fund a needle exchange program, they kept watch on how cops treated IV drug users. Under current law, you can be arrested for possession of drug paraphenalia unless you have a prescription (say if you're a diabetic who take IV insulin). Exceptions are supposed to be made for participants in a needle exchange program, who are issued an i.d. card, which should prevent arrest. As you can imagine, cops have arrested needle exchange clients, confiscated works, confiscated and/or destroyed said i.d. cards.

In China, facing a health crisis similar to Africa's, condom advertising is illegal, as well as any website that mentions homosexuality, whether or not specifically sexual messages appear on the site. Mainly, however, the concern is with needle-using heroin addicts and prostitutes, as it is in Africa.

Oddly enough, China once had a birth restriction, where couples were limited to having just 2 children, and the practice of aborting girls was, and in some areas still is, routine. Recently, however, NBC News reported that China's population was becoming unbalanced in favor of boys. For a country with unusual, to say the least, sexual habits, dictated by the government, more often than not, it is sad that opportunities for the government to step in again, to work for good, are being missed.

It seems that no matter where you go, sex still represents the final frontier. Almost every major scientifically-sophistcated nation can send, or has sent, missiles, satellites, or vehicles into space, but can't seem to conquer its fear of the body; its drive for pleasure, the need for love, and the hunger for escapism.



Post a Comment

<< Home