Shoulders To Stand On                                                                           EC February Issue 2017

The Long Road To Wellness (cont’d)

The Road To Wellness has many twists and turns.  For every two steps forward there seems to be one step back.  Such is the history of many movements, progress and our own growth and development.  Much is learned from our failures as well as our successes.  In this month’s History of AID – The Road to Wellness, I want to look at the year 1988 in 3 areas related to creating a healthy Rochester community: Rochester’s  response to AIDS; drug users; and the rise of AIDS in the heterosexual community.

First in 1988 Monroe County school districts implement an AIDS curriculum.  In 1988 the curriculum would have informed students and parents about AIDS, how to prevent it – sexually and through drug use.  Information on treatment would have been limited to AZT, and a few other potentially effective drugs.  Today Monroe County School Districts must follow the New York Sexuality Education Law and Policy which states:

Health education is required for all students in kindergarten through twelfth grade in New York. This instruction must provide information about HIV/AIDS. Health education is taught by classroom teachers in kindergarten through sixth grade; in seventh through twelfth grades, HIV/AIDS instruction must be taught by teachers who have been given appropriate training and curriculum materials by the board of education or trustees.

All HIV/AIDS education must “provide accurate information to pupils concerning the nature of the disease, methods of transmission, and methods of prevention.” This instruction must be age-appropriate and consistent with community values and “shall stress abstinence as the most appropriate and effective premarital protection against AIDS.”

Each local school board must establish an advisory council to make recommendations on HIV/AIDS instruction. The state does not require or suggest a specific curriculum, but does provide a curriculum framework, the Learning Standards for Health, Physical Education, and Family and Consumer Sciences. The framework does not specifically mention sexuality education though certain topics within sexuality education are included, such as “understanding of the changes that accompany puberty.”

Parents may exempt their children from HIV/AIDS classes as long as the school is given “assurance that the pupil will receive such instruction at home.” This is referred to as an “opt-out” policy.

To assist implementation of the AIDS curriculum in 1988, Monroe county funded 3 community basedorganizations and and AIDS Resource Library to provide prevention education.  As a result Action for a Better Community, Baden Street Settlement and the Puerto Rican Ypouth Development and resource Center began developing comprehensive services.

Second in February, 1988 Jesse Watkins, chairman of Pres. Reagan’s AIDS Commision, recommended a 10 yr., $15 billion expansion of rehabilitative treatment for IV drug abuse, including estahlishment of 3300 new drug abuse clinics and hiring 32,000 specialists to staff them in an effort to help control the spread of AIDS.  At that time there was a growing scientific consensus that IV drug users were the main source of new AIDS infections.  Drug addicts accounted for 53% of all deaths due to AIDS in New York City from 1978 to 1986 according to an article published in the journal, Science, Feb 12,1988.  In New York City, new AIDS cases that result from shared needles exceed those attributable to sexual contact, and in November, 1988 the city’s Health Department begins an experimental needle exchange program.  Rochester would wait until AIDS Rochester began a needle exchange program in 1994.

People who inject drugs (also known as PWID) are among the group most vulnerable to HIV infection. HIV prevalence among people who inject drugs is 28 times higher than among the rest of the population.  Drug use now accounts for an ever growing proportion of those living with HIV. On average one in ten new HIV infections are caused by the sharing of needles.   Moreover, almost one third of global HIV infections outside of sub-Saharan Africa are caused by injecting drugs.

Third in March, 1988 according to a study by sex t6herapists Dr. William H. Masters, Virginia E. Johnson, and collaborator Dr. Rocbert c. Kolody, ‘the aids virus is now running rampant in the heterosexual community.’  Their findings, reported in the book Crisis: Heterosexual Behavior in the Age of AIDS, were met with criticism from other AIDS researchers and public health officials.  In April, a report in the Journal of the American medical Association states that the risk of exposure to AIDS through heterosexual intercourse is low. The degree of risk, according to the study, is determined bywhether one’s sexual partneris from a high risk group (bisexual males, prostitutes or IV drug abusers), whether condoms are used,and abstinence from high-risk sexual behaviors.

According to the CDC in September, 2016 around 1 in 4 people living with HIV in the United States are women, and most new HIV diagnoses in women are attributed to heterosexual sex. Women made up 19% (8,328) of the estimated 44,073 new HIV diagnoses in the United States in 2014. Of these, 87% (7,242) were attributed to heterosexual sex,e and 13% (1,045) were attributed to injection drug use.  Among all women diagnosed with HIV in 2014, an estimated 62% (5,128) were African American, 18% (1,483) were white, and 16% (1,350) were Hispanic/Latina.  Women accounted for 25% (5,168) of the estimated 20,792 AIDS diagnoses among adults and adolescents in 2014 and represent 20% (246,372) of the estimated 1,210,835 cumulative AIDS diagnoses in the United States from the beginning of the epidemic through the end of 2014.  Of the total estimated number of womenc living with diagnosed HIV at the end of 2013, 61% (137,504) were African American, 17% (39,177) were white, and 17% (38,664) were Hispanics/Latinas.  Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with mena made up an estimated 2% of the population but 55% of people living with HIV in the United States in 2013. The CDC also reported that in 2014 gay and bisexual men accounted for 83% (29,418) of the estimated new HIV diagnoses among all males aged 13 and older and 67% of the total estimated new diagnoses in the United States; gay and bisexual men aged 13 to 24 accounted for an estimated 92% of new HIV diagnoses among all men in their age group and 27% of new diagnoses among all gay and bisexual men; gay and bisexual men accounted for an estimated 54% (11,277) of people diagnosed with AIDS and of those men, 39% were African American, 32% were white, and 24% were Hispanic/Latino.

We will continue to document the Rochester community’s response to AIDS.  Even though todays treatments are much more effective than in the past, we have a long way to go in changing at risk behaviors that increase the number of those diagnosed with AIDS.  Shoulders To Stand On recognizes the energy and work required to make change happen, and is proud of the Rochester community and its continued response to the AIDS epidemic.

Rochester AIDS History Chapter 22

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *