Badpuppy Gay Today

Monday, 03 November 1997


By Corrine Hicks


Last week's heterosexual hoop-tee-doo about multiple HIV infections affecting possibly as many as 20 or more young women, has made headlines across the nation.

Nushawn Williams, from western New York state, a young man who'd previously tested positive, enjoyed unprotected sex with literally dozens. He now awaits his fate in a solitary prison cell, while over 80% of the local populace are calling for his head.

A mere 12% says he should not be blamed for the transmissions, though others are rightfully questioning the ages of his female companions. This small percentage, no doubt, comes from the ranks of those who have given the matter more careful thought. Sex, as is obvious, unless it has a private Onanist slant, generally takes at least two agreeable receptors.

In a nation where information about AIDS prevention is hard to come by (because of interfering Roman Catholic ideologues and religious fundamentalists), and where—in many locales— classroom discussions of condoms have been disallowed, heterosexual America is finally awakening to the heartbreaking dangers posed by the AIDS crisis.

There is little room among the vigilantes calling for Williams' scalp, however, for the kind of reflection which ought to lead them to insist on more graphic styles in AIDS education and prevention.

Williams, 20, was, no doubt an expert seducer. Had his female quarries been armed with common prevention knowledge, however, knowledge that a puritanical society has routinely denied them, they would have insisted upon ample protection.

A thinking person knows that AIDS is out there and that many hundreds of thousands are carrying the virus unaware. To blame only the carrier makes no sense because more often than not transmission takes place without the carrier's knowledge.

The psychological factor known as denial affects even those who suspect that they may be HIV positive, and it is not until such persons pass from HIV status into full-blown AIDS that they reflect on what they've done to themselves and, possibly, to others.

Nushawn Williams, of course, knew he was positive. This, many say, makes him a quasi-murderer. Even so, the confusions rampant in the mind of a 20-year old delinquent, including facing the fact of his own mortality, must be taken into account. While it appears that he's wholly responsible for the infections he's caused, it remains important that society places all responsibility for AIDS transmissions—not with the unwitting and often confused transmitters—but with those uninfected sex partners who may cross their paths.

To blame the transmitter alone is to turn away from preaching each individual's responsibility to self-protect. Only when educators—whether in academia or in the media—put personal responsibility at the center of AIDS prevention will AIDS statistics continue along a downward slide.

To blame others is to turn the focus for prevention away from personal responsibility and awareness and to put it "out there" somewhere. Until AIDS prevention becomes each person's own task—and until religious fanatics are stopped from campaigning against safer sex education, HIV transmission will continue unabated.

It is bothersome that last week's transmission hoop-tee-doo may feed into recent politically-motivated moves calling for an end to the anonymity that has thus far accompanied AIDS testing.

Mainstream gay rights organizations and the ACLU have made clear their opposition to the ending of such anonymous tests, fearing that untold numbers of closet-cases in denial would likely, therefore, stay clear of testing altogether—fearing public exposure-- and continuing to relate to their clandestine sexual partners in unprotected ways.

The Nushawn Williams case—because it involved alarmed heterosexuals—overshadowed a lesser known case at the end of the week, that of another HIV positive man, aged 35, who is feared to have infected "at least 50 young men".

James Russell, 35, also knew the facts about his HIV status, and stands accused of "raping" a 17-year old boy, a charge he denies. He met the boy, according to authorities, at a shopping mall, and enticed him with the promise of his recruitment into a basketball team. According to Russell's roommate, this ploy was used routinely by Russell to lure young men to his apartment.

What is most worrisome—as the media puts focus on these cases—is that it is people with AIDS who are once again being made the culprits.

Until personal responsibility becomes enthroned as the ONLY protector against AIDS, and until protective knowledge and safer sex campaigns are as routine as tooth paste ads, AIDS will continue to claim all too many lives.

© 1998 BEI; All Rights Reserved.
For reprint permission: eMail