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are we becoming complacent about aids?
Sep 17, 1996

would you agree that people of today are becoming more complacent about AIDs despite the fact that the number of cases and the risk of contracting the disease is increasing? (I'm conducting a survey on public opinion of AIDs)

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your post.

As time progresses, the immediate shock and fear related to AIDS is now slowly wearing off as people are becoming more familiar with the disease. Also, as more and more people know someone who has AIDS, the fear of the disease is slowly decreasing.

We are seeing an increase in complacency with the disease, especially in the Gay community. Because the Gay community sees this disease affecting them so often, they have become desensitized to AIDS over time.

Gay men now perceive AIDS the same way smokers perceive lung cancer, emphysema, and heart disease. Smokers know very well that what they are doing can ultimately kill them years later. The health risks associated with smoking are well established and known by the public. However smokers are willing to take those risks. The Gay community knows quite well that what they are doing now (having high risk sex with multiple partners) can kill them years later (by getting AIDS). However, like smokers, they are willing to take those risks.

Many people who put themselves at risk understand the risks they are taking. But many of them don't think that they will become infected.....they're living in denial. This is quite common.

Presently, in the United States, the number of people infected is remaining relatively stable. This is because the number of new cases of HIV infection is approximately equal to the death rate due to AIDS. So the disease is not likely to wipe out the population, as was feared years ago. This has led to people becoming less fearful of the disease. In other parts of the world, the epidemic is still growing.

As AIDS becomes a more mainstream disease (like cancer and heart disease), people will slowly become more accepting of it (slowly). You will also find a complacency about cancer and heart disease too, although people know quite well the risks they take related with these other deadly diseases too. But as far as AIDS is concerned, the shock of the disease is gone. People are now getting used to hearing about AIDS the same way they hear about deaths from cancer, heart disease, car accidents etc. So I do agree that, at least in the USA, people are becoming more complacent.

If you have further questions, please e-mail me at "nvhotline@aol.com" or call me at 1-800-842-AIDS.



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