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Black Informant responds; I respond to his response; soon, he will respond once more; then, it will be over.

Welcome back to the HIV Blame Game, wherein blogger Black Informant and I debate the root causes of the HIV epidemic in Washington, D.C. Yesterday, I wrote a post arguing why the gay and lesbian community shouldn’t be a scapegoat for D.C.’s HIV problem, that HIV/AIDS affects us all, and that we need to create strong educational initiatives to help stop the epidemic.

Black Informant responded—-read his post here. The crux of his argument is that HIV/AIDS is spread by people, both gay and straight, “who know how to avoid STDs, yet insist on doing the total opposite,” and public initiatives to further educate the public on the risks of HIV will force “society at large to foot the bill for their bad choices”:

For those of us in society who not only understand the importance of practicing safe sex, but actually abide by those guidelines, HIV/AIDS is not a problem. It is only a problem for those who live by the rule “If it feels good, do it”, all the while expecting society at large to foot the bill for their bad choices. That applies to both homosexuals and heterosexuals. But as I contend in both this post and my previous one, the homosexual community, by definition has regulated itself to high risk sexual behavior and should stop hiding behind what the heterosexual community is or isn’t doing. As far as “blaming” goes, you can start with the people who know how to avoid STDs, yet insist on doing the total opposite.

I couldn’t agree with Black Informant more that practicing safe sex is the best thing we can do to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. But I have to disagree with him when he says that HIV is “only a problem for those who live by the rule ‘If it feels good, do it.'”

By that logic, the largest population of irresponsible hedonists are centralized in sub-Saharan Africa. Eleven percent of new HIV cases are reserved for irresponsible hedonistic newborn babies. Fifteen million children with AIDS are orphans, surely payment for their irresponsible hedonism. In D.C., most irresponsible hedonists reside in the city’s poorest areas, where even condoms are locked up to avoid irresponsible hedonists from stealing them to engage in more responsible hedonism.

The reality is this: Stating that those affected by HIV were infected through irresponsible hedonism is a way to willfully ignore a problem that does not affect you directly. Actually, being able to understand the “importance of practicing safe sex” and being able to actually “abide by those guidelines”—-like Black Informant can—-is a privileged position. It’s not a coincidence that low-income African-Americans are most affected by HIV. Protecting yourself costs money. It costs money to educate adolescents on the importance of safe sex. It costs money to distribute free condoms to people in poor areas who are most at risk. It costs money to offer free HIV testing to an entire urban area. It costs money to come out with comprehensive studies every year that try to pinpoint the populations that are at the highest risk and arm them with the knowledge to protect themselves. It costs money to change decades-old attitude that if you’re not gay, you don’t have to worry about HIV.

But what’s more expensive—-pushing for comprehensive sex education, testing, and condom distribution for all citizens, or watching an entire segment of your population waste away from a crippling affliction? Hey, let’s not pay to find out how many people have HIV, how they got it, and what we can do to prevent it. Once we declare that HIV is “not our problem,” all we have to do is sit back, relax, and wait for the next generation of Washingtonians to enjoy even higher AIDS rates because we couldn’t be bothered with the tax burden.

“Understanding” how to prevent HIV is not common sense. New information on HIV/AIDS comes forth all the time, and even educated, safe-sex-practicing citizens like Black Informant could use a refresher course. He writes:

Risky sexual behavior is the cause behind this jump, not “gay sex” as you are calling it. If a person chooses not to use a condom, that is a risk. If a person chooses to ingest fecal matter during sex (rimming), that is a risk.

Actually, it’s not. A sex act, like rimming, isn’t an HIV risk just because straight people associate it with the gay community. HIV can be transmitted through four fluids—-semen, vaginal fluid, breastmilk, and blood. It’s okay—-I didn’t know that either until I got my free rapid HIV test a couple months ago, and I’m a privileged college-educated white girl.

Educating people takes time, but changing attitudes takes even longer. We need to change attitudes that encourage unsafe sex, but we also need to change attitudes that blanket moral judgments over an entire population of sufferers. Yesterday, the Pope arrived in Africa to tell the continent that condoms are making the AIDS problem worse. Categorize those who use condoms as immoral, or categorize those who don’t use them as irresponsible hedonists—-either way, you’re shaking your hands of your responsibility to help those in need.