HIV/AIDS has always been a political disease. From the start we were told that “it’s not a gay disease.” Because of the political component (spurred mainly by the ACT UP thugs that routinely picketed drug companies and laid AIDS quilts all over public spaces) the disease was treated differently by public health professionals. Consequently, it spread more than it should have. It was the first politically correct disease. After nearly 30 years, we’re still being sold the line that it’s everyone’s disease. Take, for example, the state Department of Health and Human Services’ new campaign:

“The campaign recognizes that we — all of us — suffer from HIV/AIDS,” said Evelyn Foust, head of N.C. HIV/STD Prevention and Care. “HIV is not just about somebody else.”

Well, no. I don’t suffer from AIDS. Nor do I suffer from typhoid or tuberculosis or leprosy, but some people do. Why are these not “everybody’s disease”? Though the campaign calls it that, organizers contradict themselves:

“This is no longer a gay, white, male virus. HIV/AIDS is also a drug addict’s and homeless person’s disease. It’s everyone’s disease, and it’s not just transmitted through sex,” said Dr. Michelle Ogle of Northern Outreach Clinic. “It’s about poverty, it’s about a lack of education, and it’s about a lack of resources.”

So, it’s not everyone’s disease after all. By their own admission it’s a gay, homeless, drug addict disease, meaning that it is a disease brought on by behavior and is not contracted by coming into contact with someone in a shopping mall, in the way other diseases, like TB or typhoid, would be spread. I feel confident that history will show that treating AIDS in this political way, making it the disease you can’t criticize, helped it spread. Good job, health professionals.