Since the death of Glam Rock icon, David Bowie, many people have grown to know a little more than the façade of who he was. While it’s known that he was groundbreaking in music, fashion, sexual expression and art, it’s often forgotten how passionate he was about HIV awareness and the search for a cure for AIDS.
During his life, Bowie played an integral part in Live Aid, a concert held in two venues on the 13th of July, 1985. In 1990, supermodel Iman (who later became Bowie’s wife) and Bowie were a part of the benefit 7‘th on Sale, raising money for the research to cure AIDS. In 1991, he lost a good friend and collaborator, Freddie Mercury to the disease. 2006 saw Bowie collaborating with Alicia Keys as a part of Key’s organization Keep a Child Alive, a charity that seeks to stop African children from contracting AIDS.
But in 2017, with so many problems in the world, both locally and internationally, is AIDS prevalent enough to be discussed?
In 2015, an estimated 36.7 million people were living with AIDS, causing 1.1 million deaths of related illnesses. While alarming, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, the number of new HIV infections have almost halved from over 100,000 new infections to 50,000.
These statistics aside, a dangerous subculture is emerging that may threaten the decrease in HIV infections and therefore AIDS. The number of accounts of ‘gift giving’ (the act of a person with HIV intentionally transmitting the disease to another person) has been rising, as has ‘Stealthing’, (the act of removing or tampering with a condom without consent.)
In the gay community, men are speaking out concerning how scared they are about connecting with another man at the moment in fear that they may be stealthed. A source stated that “the act of being sexual active with another person makes you vulnerable, but the idea that someone might be intentionally infecting you with HIV is terrifying.” In a recent journal by the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, a doctoral student named Rebecca stated she noticed an increase in the amount of calls from women being sexually assaulted by stealthing.
While there’s no legal precedent in many countries to stop a person from stealthing yet, a Swiss court has tried a man who stealthed a woman he met on Tinder. The case is the first of it’s kind to shine light on the ugly trend. While ethically, gaining consent for sexual intercourse in a manner that’s deceitful seems to be rape, legally it’s a grey area, as the act of consent itself is difficult to prove.
Back in the 80’s and 90’s, Bowie and other celebrities like Liz Taylor, Madonna, Elton John and Bono, helped bring awareness to the global pandemic that was quietly infesting the world. In 2017, we are hearing about breakthroughs in HIV and Aids treatments, but what do we do about the people who are intentionally doing this to other people?
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