Seattle Times (10.08.03) - Thursday, October 09, 2003
A 40-member task force comprising HIV-prevention workers, AIDS
service organization representatives, public health employees
and gay community activists released a strongly worded
"manifesto" on October 7, encouraging gay and bisexual men to
behave more responsibly and make greater efforts to stop a
steady increase in HIV infections in King County, Wash.
"We are accountable for our behavior - to ourselves, our sex
partners, and our community.... Transmitting HIV knowingly is
an act of violence," the group said in "A Community Manifesto:
A New Response to HIV and STDs."
The group expects controversy over the manifesto's pointed
observations, which they plan to circulate in gay publications
and on Web sites. HIV infection in King County increased 40
percent last year, and health officials expect a similar
increase this year. Syphilis and gonorrhea infections have
also risen dramatically, with many in HIV-infected men.
Roughly one in seven gay men in the county has HIV.
"I'm not aware of any group on the globe that has sought to be
so explicit about care for [sexual] partners and for the
community," said task force member Dr. Bob Wood, director of
AIDS Control for Public Health - Seattle & King County.
Dr. Ron Valdiserri, a top HIV-prevention official at CDC, said
the manifesto is important because of its community
involvement: "Community engagement is absolutely critical for
HIV prevention," he said.
The new approach is the latest among several prevention
efforts that started since STDs began increasing among gay men
about five years ago. They have included an advertising
campaign, an open letter from the Governor's Advisory
Committee on HIV/AIDS published in newspapers, an HIV
prevention column in a gay newspaper and warnings from public
health officials. Nothing has stopped the increase of HIV and
"These rates show we have stopped doing the things that
protect us and our sex partners from needless infections," the