Zip It Up!

Assessing the new AIDS scare

So what's the real cure? Well, forget about thinking you can close down every venue where people might have unsafe sex—where there's a will, there's a gay (or a straight or a bi). Instead, we have to get to the heart of the crisis and figure out why a part of the queer community supports crystal usage and lethal sex rampages. Free answer: Because they wrongly feel AIDS is over or manageable. Or that nothing is more important than unprotected anal sex. Or because some of them already have AIDS and want to lose themselves in a spiral that seemingly distances them from the specter of death while it ironically adds to it.

So here's the deal: Education on the subject needs to be more direct and harrowing—show 'em what a messy crystal addict really looks like, not a hunky guy who's "crystal free." Hold up a mirror. Keep investigating and publicizing this horrid new strain, which may be a diabolical reminder that everything happens more quickly these days. Pick up the ball on all AIDS reporting; most media, like the public, had gotten beyond bored with it. Bring back condoms. Try doing drug interventions with friends. (The community might not have the right, but you do.) And drum up some experts and activists who still have a whopping sex drive. Crusty old Nancy Reagan types screaming, "Just say no!" don't always ring younger gay chimes.

A whole other safer-sex revolution is in order, just like in the '80s. But urging people to "zip it up" will only work as long as the finger-pointers do the same.

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