Michael Specter writes:
I have covered wars, before the epidemic began and since. They are all ugly and painful and unjust, but for me, nothing has matched the dread I felt while walking through the Castro, the Village, or Dupont Circle at the height of the AIDS epidemic. It could seem as if a neutron bomb had exploded: the buildings stood; cars were parked along the roadside; there were newsstands and shops and planes flying overhead. But the people on the street were dying. The Castro was lined with thirty-year-old men who walked, when they could, with canes or by leaning on the arms of their slightly healthier lovers and friends. Wheelchairs filled the sidewalks. San Francisco had become a city of cadavers.
But today's young gay population never witnessed those horrors, and they're letting their guard down to the AIDS menance. Specter quotes Thomas R. Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where he lays out the dangers:
"Unprotected anal intercourse is in a league of its own as far as risk is concerned," he said. Three decades of data demonstrate the truth of that statement. If unprotected anal intercourse is rising among gay men—a trend noted not just in America but in much of the Western world—the rates of HIV infection will surely follow.
Just like with socialism, alternative medicine and vaccines, people living today need to learn about the past before they doom the rest of the world to relive it.