Letter: Predicting an epidemic of heterosexual Aids

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The Independent Online
Sir: Steve Connor's detailed reporting on Aids (The truth about growing menace of heterosexual Aids, 2l May) is to be welcomed because it is clearly important to study the extent to which HIV is a threat to non-drug-using heterosexuals, and to take steps to prevent that epidemic. But it is inexcusable for HIV workers, epidemiologists, politicians and, indeed, newspaper reporters, to continue to ignore the epidemic with us here and now - namely, that devastating the gay community.

Since the mid-Eighties, all these parties have given the impression that Aids only matters to the extent that it affects heterosexuals. Instead of keeping a balance between campaigns for heterosexuals and ones for gay and bisexual men, most of those charged with responsibility - and substantial budgets - for HIV education have spent not one penny on campaigns for homosexually active men. I am appalled that your editorial comment could commend the fact that only pounds 1 in every pounds 16 spent on Aids education this year has been targeted at gay or bisexual men, when gay men continue to comprise two-thirds of new cases of HIV infection. No wonder nearly one in four gay men in some parts of the country is HIV positive. No wonder there is evidence of an increase in unsafe sex and new HIV infections among gay men.

By all means report that heterosexuals can and do become infected with HIV. But is it too much to ask that some sense of perspective is maintained between the hysterical extremes of those who believe that 'everyone is equally at risk' and those who believe that 'straight sex is safe'? Gay and bisexual men are far more at risk from HIV than anyone else, now and for the foreseeable future. It is only right and proper that this indisputable fact should be taken into account both by those who allocate scarce education resources, and by those who aim to record the reality of the epidemic in Britain today.

Yours faithfully

EDWARD KING

London, W2

21 May

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