Bersani’s “Is the Rectum a Grave”-Stigma and AIDS
Leo Bersani in Is the Rectum a Grave? points out the stigma associated with AIDS, not just in regard to the syndrome being inevitably fatal, but the attitude put on people who have it (or HIV) as being deserving of it, or even “guilty”. The justification for that claim is that HIV is contracted by IV drug use and promiscuous gay sex. This is not always the case, as is exemplified by the burning of the home of three boys in Arcadia, Florida who tested HIV positive*, however that is the largely used justification.
Bersani quotes Professor Opendra Narayan* of the Johns Hopkins Medical School as saying “These people have sex twenty to thirty times a night […] with a man having three thousand sexual intercourses [in a year]”. This is an example of an educated medical professional at a prestigious university making an attempt to scientifically justify stigmatization of gay men by referencing contraction of HIV. This totally ignores reality, assuming all gay men, or even some reasonable portion thereof, have that kind of sexual stamina, desire, and time for these practices. If a medical expert works to legitimize the dehumanization of people, then the ignorant no longer need to feel ignorant since they can cite an authority figure.
*Please look in our Pages-Further Reading section for a collection of articles regarding the Rays Brothers whose home was burned down and for a Wikipedia article on how Narayan, despite some of his bigoted statements, has been helpful in treating HIV