AIDS Decade in Review (cont.)

Mr. Kramer: I was just on vacation and I was talking to a bunch of mothers of kids who were in high school, and we got around to talking about that kids were having sex much more than they ever have before, and that they were having it younger, and that girls now -- it's become -- I don't know what to call it. It's become acceptable and indeed interesting to girls to have oral intercourse with the boy and to swallow his semen without any kind of condom, and they think that this is safe. This is all news to me, but it sure is scary.

Ms. Seele: Well, we know that today, the average age for becoming sexually active is 11 years old. It's been documented, and most people don't want to believe that because little Johnny and little Mary, they're my babies. But the fact is that children are becoming sexually active at 11 years old. And adults -- we the adults have really failed our children. We should not have an 18, 19, 20-year-old, born during the AIDS epidemic -- we shouldn't have an epidemic of AIDS in that age group. These are our children that were born during the AIDS epidemic, and we've failed our children in terms of educating them properly. And that's -- again, it goes back to commitment. You can turn on the television, you can turn on the radio, and sex in the marketplace, but AIDS education continues not to be in the marketplace. Until we put AIDS education side by side like we put sex -- I'm in Times Square. I cannot walk one block in Times Square and not see some kind of half sex immediately. I can walk from here to Central Park and not see one AIDS education billboard. Something is wrong with that in a country that is being devastated by HIV.

Event Moderator: I'm going to slip in two prevention questions, and then you guys can continue. The first one is: We've reached a point where children are being born into the world of AIDS. For the rising generations, there is no before and after. How does this impact prevention efforts? The second question is: If prevention is the problem, why is the money not concentrated there?

Mr. Kramer: I would like to say that -- I'm going to be the devil's advocate here. I have felt from the very beginning -- since the very beginning -- that education and prevention were not going to work. That didn't mean that we should use all of our efforts to keep up the front to try, but people are people and sex is sex, and you're just not going to be able to stop it. And people are people. And that is why I have felt it was so important, at least for me, to concentrate all my energy on fighting for a cure, fighting for drugs. That was the way we were going to get this thing out of the world, more than prevention, more than education. We have to put the pressure on everybody to do the research, to the drug companies, the government, whatever. Indeed, we can look to a lot of victories in this area, but the fact that there are drugs at all within 10 or 12 years is a miracle that no other disease has ever achieved. They're just not good enough drugs. But that's all the more reason we shouldn't stop our energies. We've got to double --

Dr. Marlink: Larry -- this is Richard again. No one wants to get rid of sex and no one thinks we'll get rid of sex, hopefully, but it's -- again, safe sex and the prevention efforts which we're not touting as working, but at least it is the way to prevent exposure to HIV and to talk to your kids about --

Mr. Kramer: Oh, Richard, I'm not giving it as any argument about that. If you go to the movies -- I went and saw this wonderful movie last night called "The Cider House Rules," it's fabulous. And you know, these kids are having sex, unprotected sex, in the movie --

Ms. Seele: And that's what I'm talking about. There is no commitment. There is no commitment to AIDS prevention. Why in this day and age do you have a movie coming out with kids having unprotected sex? And we do not have the commitment to do prevention. I think prevention can work. We've seen it work in communities. But we have to have -- the message has to go forth further than "Let's go out and have sex, I met you at three o'clock, I'm having sex with you at six o'clock." And I think that that message is always the message that we hear, not the message of safe sex or abstinence or wait until you are -- that you know a person's name, for heaven's sake, before you have sex with them.

Mr. Kramer: Pernessa, they want us dead. I wish people in the affected communities would realize that, that most of our enemies who are in control of the money, the government, the press, the churches, whatever -- you name it. They don't care if black people, and faggots, and junkies, and people who -- they don't care that we die. They certainly don't care about Africa and the rest of the world. That's our biggest problem. You listen to these political candidates talking. There's not one of them who's come out and said anything miraculously humane about fighting this plague. Not a one of them. Not Gore, not Bradley, certainly not the Republicans. Anyway, enough said.

Ms. Seele: Well, Larry, I would definitely agree that in looking at the history of racism in this country, the hatred, the deep-seated hatred that America has towards gay people and black people is truly evident on how we address HIV. I think that's why we have to continue -- continue to work. We're kind of working like we worked on something in the 1920's, because everything really goes back to how much your hatred, your racism -- you know what I mean, and how you feel about another human being. And I agree with you. I agree with you wholeheartedly that we are fighting a hatred battle when we are talking about HIV in the gay community and the black community.

Mr. Kramer: And we haven't got the forces. We don't have -- you know, the gay community was going to have a march on Washington and the gay community itself self-destructed the march, so we can't even had the march on Washington. Where are all the black people? Why aren't they in revolt? Where is Africa? Where is the uprising? That's the only thing that people pay attention to. For a few years, we had ACT UP making -- destroying St. Patrick's, getting all kinds of arrests, and out there really fighting. That's when we made progress changing things. And when you become passive like we all are now, we get nothing.

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