About AIDS

World AIDS Day: Men make a difference

Again this year, World AIDS Day, December 1, will focus on the role of men in spreading HIV, with the theme "I Care ... Do You?" The goal is to get men -- especially young men -- to look at their masculine, often macho, attitudes and behaviors that perpetuate the epidemic worldwide. Men definitely have a part to play in this pandemic: individually in stopping the transmission of HIV and, more broadly, by exercising leadership in the struggle against AIDS.

The global program wants to help men be conscious and conscientious about keeping their spouses and families safe, caring for the sick, communicating with their partners about safer sexual behaviors, educating their children about HIV/AIDS, and taking better care of their own health. It's also imperative that men start speaking out about the AIDS epidemic and demonstrating civic and political leadership in addressing this health issue.

In the U.S. (and Austin is no exception), our greatest behavioral shortfalls among men have been needle sharing among black men, accompanied by unsafe sex with their heterosexual partners; and unsafe sex among young, gay men. Greater responsibility in these two categories could dramatically reduce our 40,000-50,000 annual new infections. Our greatest need for leadership comes in state and national politics and among black clergy, where HIV/AIDS is seldom mentioned.

Men can make a difference. Indeed, given their disproportionate power, personally and politically, men must make the difference.

For more information about World AIDS Day or the global program against HIV, visit www.unaids.org.

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