Tag Archives: AIDS

Ignorance

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Yesterday, one of my fellow teachers asked me how I dealt with students who believe in the literalness of the Bible. As someone who teaches history, I teach about prehistoric man, who was believed to have developed around 200,000 years ago, according to fossil records. However, biblical literalists believe the world is only a little over 6,000 years old, and they do not believe in the accuracy of radiocarbon dating. I told her that the term “day,” as it is translated in the Bible, is actually a Hebrew word that means a period of time. So we began discussing how so many things can be misconstrued especially when people have a closed mind.

Ignorance always saddens me, and most of the time, makes me angry. Such was the case when Pat Robertson delved into a discussion about AIDS during a recent episode of “The 700 Club,” in which he suggested that infected individuals in cities like San Francisco purposefully infect others by cutting them with special rings.

On Tuesday, Robertson and co-host Terry Meeuwsen responded to a question from a viewer about the disclosure of an AIDS status. Apparently, the viewer had been driving a nursing home patient to church and came to find out he has AIDS. The viewer was angry no one disclosed the man’s health condition to her.

Robertson said he “used to think it was transmitted by saliva and other things, now they say it may be sexual contact.” So, he advised the woman not have sex with the man.

“There are laws now… I think the homosexual community has put these draconian laws on the books that prohibit people from discussing this particular affliction,” he continued. “You can tell somebody you had a heart attack, you can tell them they’ve got high blood pressure, but you can’t tell anybody you’ve got AIDS.”

“You know what they do in San Francisco? Some in the gay community there, they want to get people. So if they got the stuff they’ll have a ring, you shake hands and the ring’s got a little thing where you cut your finger,” he said. “Really. It’s that kind of vicious stuff, which would be the equivalent of murder.”

Right Wing Watch reported that particular comment from the broadcast was edited out of the clip the Christian Broadcasting Network later posted online. The Huffington Post could not immediately reach a CBN representative for comment.

Back2Stonewall writer Will Kohl dubbed Robertson’s statements “the worst and most horrible lie that has come out of Pat Robertson’s mouth in his history of anti-gay hate.” He asked for supporters to call CBN headquarters and demand the network force Robertson to apologize for his “outrageous lies.”

In an email to the Huffington Post Kohl added, “It’s well past time that members of not only the LGBT community but real Christians everywhere stand up to the anti-gay religious extremist like Robertson and say enough.”

Tuesday’s segment was certainly filled with fallacies.

AIDS develops from the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which is transmitted via infected persons by blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids or breast milk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These fluids must either come in contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue or be directly injected into the bloodstream for someone to be infected.

In addition, the gay community has not put “draconian” laws on the books like the televangelist claimed. In fact, many states have partner-notification laws that make an HIV-positive person legally obligated to tell his or her partner or partners, according to AIDS.gov. In some states, the omission of this information could result in a criminal charge.

Finally, HIV/AIDS is not a “gay” thing. The diseases affect people of all races, genders, sexualities and creeds.

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Remembering Rock

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On July 25, 1985, HIV/AIDS was given a global spotlight when it was announced that screen icon Rock Hudson was suffering from the disease.
Looking gaunt and almost unrecognizable, rumors began to circulate about his health earlier in the summer when the actor had made a public appearance to promote a new cable series of his friend and former co-star Doris Day.
After collapsing in Paris in July 1985, he was diagnosed with AIDS and given treatment with the drug HPA-23, which at the time was unavailable in the United States. It was while he was in the hospital that it was announced to the public that Hudson had AIDS:

“According to publicist Yanou Collart, who acted as his spokeswoman in Paris, the decision was Hudson’s. ‘The hardest thing I ever had to do in my life was to walk into his room and read him the press release,’ says Collart. “I’ll never forget the look on his face. How can I explain it? Very few people knew he was gay. In his eyes was the realization that he was destroying his own image. After I read it, he said simply, ‘That’s it, it has to be done.’ “

Hudson passed away at the age of 59, on October 2, 1985, less than three months after the announcement, in his Beverly Hills home. In his last weeks he was visited by many famous friends such as Carol Burnett, Roddy McDowell and Elizabeth Taylor, who upon his death was reported as saying “Please God, he did not die in vain.”
Hudson’s AIDS diagnosis put the disease into the headlines and changed the way the public thought of AIDS patients, as well as gay stereotypes. Before his death he created the Rock Hudson AIDS Foundation, donating the $250,000 he received from an advance of a biography to the foundation.
Hudson’s death is also credited with jumpstarting Elizabeth Taylor’s fundraising crusade to fight AIDS and Chairman of California’s AIDS Advisory Board Committee Bruce Decker said upon Hudson’s death: “His illness and death have moved the fight against AIDS ahead more in three months than anything in the past three years.”
Tales of the City author Armistead Maupin was quoted as saying: “I’m sure Rock’s coming out will stand as a landmark in the gay community.”

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