Portugal has the worst rate of AIDS per capita in the European Union and is beaten only by the Ukraine in Europe in the number of new infections from this disease. This tragedy is due to a great extent in Portugal to intravenous drugs users failing to take the necessary steps when using narcotics: 48% of regular intravenous narcotics users are HIV positive. This despite a government programme to distribute syringes gratuitously and after a publicity campaign warning against the dangers of shared syringes. It would seem almost as if the new victims of the disease were, subconsciously at least, asking to become infected. In the United Kingdom, for instance, one can read advertisements in magazines placed by homosexual men who are requesting HIV positive partners to have sexual relations with. Evidently these cases are a minority and belong to the annals of psychiatry but if a small number of mentally unbalanced sexually prolific persons, male or female, decided to launch a destructive campaign against “society”, it is natural that the number of cases of infection would rise dramatically. In Portugal, it is frequent for men to have unprotected sex with prostitutes, as it is frequent for sexual relations to take place in secondary schools. In an attitude of “It could never happen to me”, people throw caution to the wind. The problem is that the wind can easily turn into a storm. It is the duty of the educational institutions to pass the message to the public in general and the young members of society in particular, that liberal sexual practices have always been dangerous, ever more so these days. Syphilis was the scourge of Europe in the last centuries and was responsible in part for the destruction of native American peoples. Today one could say that syphilis has an uglier sister, AIDS. As far as drugs users are concerned, what possesses a person to perform the gymnastics necessary to shoot up in the first place would seem to be an indication of a serious psychological imbalance from the very beginning. If someone is intent on self-destruction, something has not happened along the path to development. If 48% of intravenous drugs users are HIV positive, it is proof of a hidden desire to self-destruct, since the minimum and very easy-to-follow cares were blatantly flouted. The problem is that such cases are a public health risk, since their bodies are so debilitated that they become culture dishes for any opportunist bacteria or virus passing their way. Multi-resistant infections are bred inside their bodies, infections which they can pass to a healthy individual by a simple cough or sneeze on a bus or metro. AIDS is a tragedy, taking lives from young people who should be enjoying their youth actively and happily. What went wrong with our societies to produce walking zombies, bent on their destruction and that of the society which they are so intent on destroying?
TIMOTHY BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.RU LISBON