DECEMBER 30. 1986/MONTROSE VOICE 9
Make A New Year's AIDS Resolution:
"I Will Not Put Myself or Others At Risk
Commentary by Neil Schram
Pacific News Service
1986 will be remembered as the year of
staggering projections about the future
of the AIDS epidemic with, at least,general recognition that heterosexuals are
also at risk through sexual contact.
Hopefully, for 1987, each and every'
person who mighl he at risk will take
personal responsiblity for stopping the
spread of (he AIDS virus.
This means believing that you are at
risk, learning how to protect yourself
from that risk, and making a commitment to always protect yourself. No one
can tin it for you.
The World Health Organizat ion
recently estimated thai 10 million people worldwide arc already infected with
the AIDS virus, a nun.her that will rise
to 50 to 100 million within five years.
It is also expected that two to four
million more Americans will hecome
infected over the next five years. The
U.S. Public Health Service estimates
that 7000 heterosexuals will develop
AIDS in 1991 as a result of the spread of
the AIDS virus during heterosexual
intercourse—I ran sin it ted from female
to male as well as male to female.
Many if not most of these people will
become infected in 19K7and 19HH.
Ii is difficult to believe thai people
know they are at risk tor AIDS, know
how to protect themselves, and still fail
to do so.
Nevertheless, although dramatic
changes have occurred in gay male sex
ual behavior, too many gay men who
know better still practice unprotected
(no condom) anal intercourse, which is
the highest risk behavior for AIDS.
Some of the reasons my patients have
given me for not always using condoms
include: "My partner refused to use a
condom;" "It doesn't feel good with a
condom;" "I didn't have one with me,"
"After (wo negative tests for antibodies
to the AIDS virus I assumed I was
The latter was from a patient whose
third test was positive.
That same denial was recently demonstrated by heterosexual members of
two sex clubs in Minneapolis who had
an average of 25 sexual partners, and
yet 7I. percent did not believe their
behavior pul them at risk for AIDS,
Unfortunately, millions of Americans
who do not believe it will happen to
them may indeed hecome infected over
the next five years
Statistically, not all people are a.
equal risk for infection. Couples in a
monogamous relationship since at least
I97H, where neither partner has used
That is the problem with the advice to
know the sexual and drug use history of
your partner—you must know the history of his or her prior partners as well.
That is of course usually impossihle.
Thus you must assume the possibility
that a new partner could be infected.
In any event, because hundreds of
thousands of Americans will become
infected in 1987. the risk forhomosexu-
ally or heterosexually active individuals will do nothing but rise since each
newly infected person is believed to
become infectious as well.
Therefore now is the time to start taking precautions.
Information about how to protect
yourself has been available for a long
time. In anal or vaginal intercourse use
a condom. If you use injectable drugs, do
not share needles or equipment.
The goverment should be spending
hundreds of millions of dollars to convince people that "intercourse without a
condom can kill" and "sharing drug
equipment can kill." Sadly, the government wil not spend money to try to convince you that risk exists and that you
can and should protect yourself.
But if you read this far. then you
The final step, convincing you to
always take precautions, depends on
you. Government, no matter how much
it spends, can not do that for you.
The AIDS virus does not forgive. If
you get infected, no matter how sorry
you are, no matter how much you try to
change it, that fact will not change.
Only you can prevent this from happening. If you haven't already started protecting yourself, start now.
I urge the following critically important 1987 New Year's resoultion: 1 will
not practice behavior that puts me at
risk for infection with the AIDS virus.
The AIDS virus does not forgive. If you get
infected, no matter how sorry you are, no matter
how much you try to change it, that fact will not
change. Only you can prevent this from
injectable drugs or received blood products, arc at no risk.
For gay or bisexual men, theodds that
a new male partner is infected varies
from about one in five to one in two
depending on the city. Tor heteroaexu-
tPttntet/ai al f
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PNS commentator Ned Schram. a physician, is chair
ot the Los Angeles City/ County AIDS Task Force
als, the risk averages less than one per
The risk rises significantly if your
partner has had sex with a gay or bisexual man, has used injectable drugs or
has had sex with someone who has.
TUESDAY. DECEMBER 30. 1986
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