HIV Prevention Watchdog Needed
The radical French HIV prevention and treatment group The Warning, recently interviewed longtime gay heath writer Michael Scarce. Based in San Francisco, he's not one to shy away from controversial subjects that offend AIDS Inc, and his talk with the French activists raises issues near and dear to my agenda.
Scarce shoots a number of arrows of well-deserved criticism, at the right place:
[C]orruption has also become commonplace in HIV prevention, corresponding with an unprecedented lack of accountability in self-proclaimed “community-based” AIDS organizations. These are agencies and services born from grass roots activism that, over time, have systematically excluded, alienated, and turned against the very populations they claim to serve.
In terms of funding, Crisis = Money. Disease = Money. Risk = Money.
The more AIDS organizations can portray their communities as unhealthy, sick, and high risk, the more they are rewarded financially and politically.
That is exactly the thinking I have seen with prevention orgs, which still, despite a solid decade of rejection of their all-alarm/all-the-time approaches, never get around to giving the gay community credit for doing anything right on HIV prevention or taking care of our wellness. This situation also leads to the flourishing of stigmatizing, questionable HIV modeling from Sally Blower, which ain't healthy for us.
One would think San Francisco, my hometown, would be setting a better example, one that employs asset-based values in strengthening the gay wellness habit that already exist among us, but all we still get is alarm and fear-driven messages.
To further provoke AIDS Inc and activists like me, Scarce is putting out the call to the community to develop a watchdog to keep tabs on our orgs. I have only three things to say about that, after a month (decade really), of attempting to undo the damage done by Sally Blower and her ilk at UCLA/UCSF with their shoddy research meant to guide community-based prevention: Yes, yeah, yep.
More from The Warning interview, which is well worth reading in full:
Q: You have called for a national watchdog coalition for HIV prevention. Why ?Hey Michael Scarce, keep talking up this prevention watchdog idea.
A: Obama has repeatedly emphasized widespread evaluation of programs and resources, and promises the elimination of programs that aren’t effective. I am convinced HIV prevention has not only failed most gay men in the past decade, but also surpassed negligence to the degree of consciously inflicting harm in many cases, damaging us in ways we are only beginning to understand. We have been bombarded with social marketing that blames and shames us, for example, including incredibly stigmatizing campaigns such as “HIV is no picnic” and “HIV : not fabulous”.
And everyone, be sure to check out the comment section, for a note from Duncan Osborn, responding to some of Michael's ideas. Let's keep the debate going.
One more reason to read the comments section is that Michael has replied to Duncan, so check out what they have to say.