At a conference in Montreal at the end of November 1989, Dr. James Chin of the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that there is a marked increase in the number of reported cases of AIDS in all major regions of the world.
George Wells of the Centre for Disease Control in Ottawa said that in Canada 2,168 cases had been reported to federal health officials, while estimates of those with the disease by 1992 run from 7,000 to 11,000. He added that there might be as many as 40,000 people in Canada infected with the virus.
Loss to society
Rod Fraser of Queen’s university, a health care economist, said that the cost of treating people with AIDS in Canada could rise to over a billion dollars annually by the end of 1992. But, he said, the greater loss to society is that of young men who fall victim to the disease during the most productive years of their lives.
A major controversy continues over whether the disease will or will not spread rapidly into the heterosexual population, or will remain chiefly a homosexual disease. Reviewing the events of 1989, Michael Adler, professor of genito-urinary medicine at the Middlesex Hospital, London, England, made the following statement:
“The fact is that HIV is spreading into the heterosexual population here and is spreading through vaginal intercourse. In the 1990s it will be a heterosexual disease. It is unlikely that the epidemic of heterosexual AIDS will behave in the same way as among homosexual men – the level of infection will be lower and will be much slower in its development. Nevertheless, in the United Kingdom the proportion of cases of AIDS acquired heterosexually has increased from 2 per cent in 1985 to 7 percent [in 1989]. The level of infection in heterosexuals attending London clinics for sexually transmitted diseases is now the same as that in gay men only seven years ago.”
The most recent government figures, as reported in the London Sunday Times, were that 714 people in Britain had become infected with HIV heterosexually. Half of these, however, were known to have had sex with someone abroad. But Dr. Anne Johnson, the leading British expert on heterosexual transmission, even found that the virus had been transmitted to women through artificial insemination.
The number of people testing HIV positive as a result of having heterosexual intercourse with someone who is neither a bisexual man nor an intravenous drug user remains small. But evidence from the AIDS clinics in Britain suggests that it is slowly on the increase.
A “gay” disease
Just before Christmas 1989, however, an article in the Toronto Globe and Mail pointed out what The Interim has said repeatedly – that it is wrong to pretend that AIDS is not chiefly a homosexual disease. Stephen Strauss declared in his column that we should hold the people who try to prophesy about AIDS to account. In December, 1986, there were 830 AIDS cases in Canada. In December, 1989, there were 3,329. In the first case, 82.3 per cent were homosexual/bisexual men. In the second, 81 per cent were in the same category – only a very slight drop.
In 1986, women accounted for 4.8 per cent of the total. In 1989, they accounted for 5.7 per cent. But at least 70 of the 186 cases in 1989 were women born in Haiti or having sex with men born in Haiti.
“The Haitian connection,” Strauss wrote, “accounts for the fact that the lion’s share of women with AIDS (127) is found in Quebec.”
So, despite the advertising campaigns hinting about the general spread of the disease, he concludes that it is not happening:
“AIDS in this country remains overwhelmingly a gay disease. Why don’t we say this? Why does every AIDS campaign I have seen pretend an equality of risk? Perhaps we could all get AIDS, but in fact only a certain limited category of men are mostly getting it.
We cannot avoid the numbers, he says, by hiding behind political liberalism. “Unpalatable truths won’t go away just because they are unpalatable.”
Justifying homosexual activity
As reported in the February issue of The Interim, Catholic homosexuals and lesbians organized under the title of “Dignity” recently put their 20-year promotion of homosexual activity on paper, denouncing those who reject their position as homophobic. The manifesto ridicules the position that only sex open to procreation in marriage is morally good; that view “is not in touch with human experience” and “increasingly is regarded as irrelevant and unacceptable,” it declares. By contrast, Dignity describes “gay” sexuality as “the holy gift of God.” “The overwhelming majority of use,” its manifesto declares, “are able to say we are both sexually active and comfortable in our relationship with Christ. Being sexually active enables us to be more at ease with ourselves, more fulfilled in our relationships, more productive in our work and services.