I had never taken a large amount of time to think about the AIDS epidemic until I watched Eric Sawyer’s interview. Sawyer made a very good point and the end of his interview that related to my life perfectly. He talked about the generational divide that separates his generation from teens and young adults that were born in the late 80’s and 90’s. “Most young people grew up after HIV was discovered” and it is not seen as a chronic illness, it isn’t seen as a crisis anymore. It is seen as a sickness that can be taken care of with a cocktail. Unfortunately, the drugs did not work for everyone. There are side affects that can cause disability as well as kill people. The dangerous nature of HIV and AIDS was something that I knew existed, but Sawyer put a much better perspective on its effect on the population, more specifically the LGBTQ community.

One of the issues that Sawyer brought up in the present day gay community is barebacking. People participate in barebacking because it is new and dangerous, it is more exciting because you shouldn’t do it. This causes great issues with keeping HIV from spreading. Along with barebacking, gay men that are bug chasers and gift givers make the spreading of HIV even more likely, as well as mutation.  Some people believe that once you have HIV having sex with someone else isn’t a problem. Unfortunately if two people have sex, and each is carrying a different strain of HIV, the disease can mutate as the two strains mix. The present day understanding of HIV and AIDS as not being the epidemic that it once was, is something that should be re-considered. The mutation of any virus or disease means that it needs further research and funding.

Though the subject matter is not the same, Contagion gives a perspective on the medicalization of disease and the hoops that have to be jumped through to create a cure and get it distributed to the public. In this film the world is struck by an epidemic and the audience is introduced to the process that the CDC and WHO have to go though to discover the R-knot of the disease and come up with a cure. The difficulty that the doctors in the CDC and the WHO have with this disease is the same issue that bare backers, bug chasers and gift givers will perpetuate if they continue to mix HIV strains together. The disease kept mutating as it moved from host to host, and until the doctors found the R-knot the disease was as uncontrollable as AIDS in its time. This modern perspective on disease gives those that don’t know much about epidemics a good understanding of what HIV and AIDS was like back in it’s time.

– Sarah Klapperich