WASHINGTON CITY PAPER‘S article on the Ward 8 city council race (“The Revolutionary’s War,” 4/21) touches upon a subject rarely appearing in its pages—AIDS. David Plotz writes, “Ward 8, D.C.’s last frontier, suffers from crime, violence, poverty, AIDS, and every other symptom of urban blight….AIDS and drug addiction have devastated it.”
AIDS is devastating Ward 8 (and the rest of the District, nation, and world, as well). AIDS isn’t justanother symptom of urban blight—it’s a full-fledged epidemic, a plague that continues to decimate populations.
There are an estimated 50,000 HIV-positive District residents. D.C. leads all other states, territories, and possessions in new HIV infections, AIDS cases, and AIDS-related deaths. The plague is exploding east of the Anacostia River. Yet none of these realities is sufficient to provoke the level of moral outrage City Paper displays toward what it describes as a fringe candidate.
It’s too bad Malik Zulu Shabazz can gain so much attention by others’ attempts to marginalize him. AIDS conspiracy theories of a U.S. government plot and the ability of the Nation of Islam to cure AIDS with Kemron win credibility among some people because they don’t hear anyone else talking about AIDS, least of all City Paper.
Why doesn’t City Paper regularly publish safe-sex guidelines? For a publication that obviously caters to a sexually active population to use AIDS as a “symptom of urban blight” without taking a lead role in our community in AIDS education is irresponsible. Your publisher profits from an in-house “Matches” voice personal section, 900 and 976 numbers, escort and domination ads with no mention of HIV or AIDS (unless advertisers purport HIV negativity), yet does not even devote one column inch to guidelines for safe sex or needle sterilization.
Marion Barry regularly reminds District residents that AIDS is the No. 1 public-health emergency facing D.C. It is time for City Paper to take that warning to heart. AIDS is infinitely more important to the lives of the nearly 50,000 of us that are HIV-positive than most of the issues you choose to report.
ACT UP Washington, LeDroit Park