Today is World AIDS Day, so don’t forget to put on your red ribbon and exhibit a sorrow-stricken face.
In Europe more than 142,000 people were diagnosed with HIV last year, according to the surveillance report published by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization. This means that new infections have reached a new all-time high. Far from being brought under control, the threat posed by HIV/AIDS is in fact massively increasing. Even if great progress may have been achieved with regard to medical treatment of HIV/AIDS, this progress still only allows people to live with the disease, but not to get rid of it.
Unfortunately, while living with the disease, many of those affected spread it through their irresponsible and ruthless behaviour.
Indeed, the report also highlights that sex between men remains the main transmission mode for HIV in Europe. Men having sex with men account for the largest number of new HIV diagnoses and are the only population in the EU/EEA where HIV cases continue to increase at an alarming rate. In fact, the number of reported infections among gay and bisexual men is rising in Western and Central Europe. In Germany, for example, it jumped by 50 percent over the past decade.
“HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men have been rising at an alarming rate from 30 percent of cases diagnosed in 2005 to 42 percent in 2014 with increases in all but six EU/EEA countries,” ECDC Acting Director Andrea Ammon said in a statement.
“Europe has to scale up its efforts to reach out to this group — this includes looking at new strategies such as pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV and access to care for EU citizens residing in other EU countries,” she added.
But she failed to mention what would be the most efficient, and at the same time the least expensive, strategy against HIV/AIDS: to devise policies that discourage sodomy, i.e. anal intercourse between men.
One possibility would be to place sodomy under appropriate sanctions, similar to those used to fight smoking or drug abuse (both of which cause far less health risks). Another would be to hold HIV-positive persons civilly liable if, due to their behaviour, another person is infected. A third option would be to appropriately increase health insurance fees for persons who are known to engage in homosexual intercourse, in particular those who, in countries where that is possible, have concluded same-sex “civil partnerships” or same-sex “marriages”. In this way, the financial burden for irresponsible sexual behaviour would be put where it belongs, i.e. on the shoulders of those engaging in it.
But the most important is information, information, and again information. In particular, it is important that sexual education in schools, rather than portraying sodomy as a harmless and “normal” recreational activity, compulsorily includes comprehensive and factually correct information concerning the health risks associated with it.