On June 12th, Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart took home the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play on Broadway. The story is about the early years of the HIV/AIDS outbreak and the portrayal of a world unwilling to confront the epidemic. The cast, featuring Ellen Barkin, Patrick Breen, Mark Harelik, John Benjamin Hickey, Luke Macfarlane, Joe Mantello, Lee Pace, Jim Parsons, Richard Topol, and Wayne Alan Wilcox were all deeply committed to the message of the play.
AIDS has claimed more than 30 million lives over the past three decades. Barkin commented on the lack of awareness among young generations towards the disease. She stressed that “people seem to have forgotten. Younger generations think that if you take a certain number of pills, you will be fine and you can live a long healthy life. People need to be reeducated that drug don’t work for everybody.”
Young people have become more knowledgeable about contracting HIV than their elders; however, they lack the necessary urgency about the dangers of the disease and believe that they are relatively invulnerable. Having basic knowledge of HIV/AIDS creates a sense of false security and the illusion of living a low risk lifestyle. They fail to apply academic knowledge into action and continue to participate in high risk activities. This unfortunate outcome questions the adequacy and effectiveness of HIV/AIDS education programs taught in schools. The understanding of information alone may not necessarily foster positive changes in a young adult’s behavior.
The issue “is controversial, it will always be controversial” said Paul De Lay, Deputy Executive Director of the Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) at a UN meeting on AIDS on June 10, 2011. Besides raising awareness, efforts in bringing an effective global response to stop the spread of the epidemic should be intensified. Heads of state and government came together to adopt ambitious new targets to defeat AIDS.
By the year 2015, the federal and state government aims to halve sexual transmission of HIV, to reduce transmission of HIV among people who inject drugs by 50 percent, to ensure that no children will be born with HIV, to increase universal access to antiretroviral therapy, to get 15 million people onto life-saving treatment, and to limit tuberculosis deaths in people living with HIV by 50 percent.