Letters to the Editor: For World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, Americans Should Also Get Over Denialism

In “Rejecting AIDS Denialism” in the Nov. 10 issue of the New University, Mengfei Chen wrote a powerful article about the importance of South Africa facing the reality of HIV if they are to limit its spread and, eventually, if we, as a world people, are to master the disease. I would like to add, however, a very important point. In the United States, we also live in the midst of “denialism.” For example, we have many misperceptions and remain uninformed about the more recent statistics which seriously affect all of us.
How many realize that 91 percent of the people in the world living with HIV/AIDS are heterosexual? How many Americans know that this year more than one third of new HIV infections and one fourth of new AIDS cases in the United States are women? How many are aware that the rate of HIV infections increased by over 50,000 in our country in the last 12 months? How many know that Laguna Beach is the number one per capita city with HIV/AIDS affliction in Orange County (higher than Santa Ana) and has been number one per capita in the whole country for many years?
Now I hope readers do not create a “stereotype” in their minds. Laguna is not fenced in and we all mingle. Furthermore, as supervisor of anonymous HIV testing and counseling, I have had to tell many people of all ethnicities and orientations that they have the HIV virus. In fact, the first heterosexual female to whom I had to reveal her HIV-positive test results (12 years ago) was an Asian-American who was infected by her boyfriend.
In the developing world, such as Africa, women account for 50 percent of HIV infected people. It is forecasted that, unless we (you and me, not all those “others”), overcome our own personal “denialism,” within a few years, women in the United States will also meet the 50 percent statistic. In addition, HIV/AIDS has increased again among gay men and as for straight men, who do you think is infecting all our women?
We need to recognize that the consequences in our own country are also devastating. By the way, a heterosexual young man that I recently tested was positive. With him was his girlfriend of five weeks. They had not been using condoms. They live in Irvine. This is the reality of HIV/AIDS in the United States. We need to overcome our “denialism.” You can receive information from Orange County Public Health, Centers for Disease Control and the Laguna Beach Community Clinic.

Kim de St. Paer
Instructor, Humanities Core Course