AIDS Complacency

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle point to the interesting consequence of the conventional wisdom about the treatability of HIV/AIDS.

“I think people have become less worried about contracting (HIV), but multiple partners and unprotected sex are nothing new to this community,” said Jim Harrison, 48, who came to the Castro to participate in a community fund-raising event. “I don’t see that changing any time soon.”

Some people said they worried that successful drug treatment has caused men to become complacent, especially those who are just coming out.

Christopher Hall, medical director at Magnet, a community health center that offers HIV testing, said attitudes have evolved over the years and anti-HIV drugs have created a different level of concern.

“I don’t think that people are radically changing their behavior because they believe that HIV/AIDS is treatable,” he said. “Gay men care about health, want access to health services and remain concerned about HIV.”It’s been over a decade since Magic Johnson announced that he was HIV positive, and the palpable sense at the time was that in short order he would succumb to the disease. Magic Johnson’s death sentence never came, nor did those of other patients lucky enough to get in on early AIDS treatments.

It’s possible that the success (or the perception of success) in treating HIV/AIDS has caused complacency, or even worse, regressive behavior in high risk populations. The closing paragraphs of this Australia has already encountered strains of the HIV that have not responded to treatment, and the Boston area is now reporting several cases of drug resistant HIV.

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