Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council has a huge problem with the World AIDS Day coverage of last week:
December 1 is “World AIDS Day,” so both of Washington’s newspapers—the liberal Washington Post and the conservative Washington Times—featured stories on the worldwide AIDS epidemic. The Post report focused on the promise of the latest generation of antiretroviral therapy. The Times article dealt with the efforts to expand circumcision of men, in the wake of scientific findings that this, too, can help reduce spread of the disease. But what was missing? In both articles, there was not a word about men who have sex with men (MSM). And in neither article did the word “condom” appear a single time. In the United States, men who have sex with men continue to be the group at highest risk for infection with HIV (overseas, heterosexual transmission is relatively more common). Yet the idea of fighting AIDS by discouraging the sexual conduct most likely to transmit it is completely taboo.
For the record, AIDS is a scourge which goes beyond the gay community.
But Sprigg is inaccurate with his attack on the Post and the Times. And that's because he only focused on one article in both publications.
The Washington Post featured several articles talking about prevention in the days leading up to and after World AIDS Day. And several of these articles focused on the problems faced by gays dealing with the disease.
What Sprigg says about condoms is irrelevant because later in his article, he creates a straw man argument:
And at one time, condoms were considered to be THE answer to the AIDS epidemic. If we could just get men to use a condom every time, for every act of sexual intercourse (vaginal, oral, or anal), then we would beat the disease. This has proved easier said than done.
No one at any time has ever said that condoms was the answer to the AIDS epidemic. Condoms was and is considered as one solution, but not the only solution.
It sounds like to me that Sprigg is creating a false meme that "political correctness is keeping people from fully talking about AIDS in terms of the dangers of catching it." Basically Sprigg sounds like he is disappointed that neither publication used World AIDS Day as an opportunity to stigmatize gay men.
And that is Sprigg's problem.
World AIDS Day is an occasion in which we reflect on how this awful disease has hurt the world and what we can do to stop it.
It's not about finger pointing. It's about basic human kindness and compassion.