In this issue we are focusing on H.I.V. and A.I.D.S. Compared with the level of attention which the disease attracted even five years ago, it now seems almost to have dropped off the political and social agenda. Gone are the advertisements promoting safer sexual practices, and public outrage at the number of deaths from A.I.D.S.-related diseases has become very muted. And yet in Ireland we are now experiencing the inevitable rise in H.I.V.-related deaths which has already been seen in Britain and the United States. In Dublin’s inner city we are witnessing whole families being wiped out, and immense pain and suffering is being made worse by fear of society’s judgemental attitudes which result in loneliness, isolation and misery. What happens in Dublin will inevitably be repeated in cities and towns throughout the country.
A.I.D.S./H.I.V. is a complex disease and presents us with enormous social issues. We were reminded again and again, in the articles which we received, of the comparisons with syphilis and tuberculosis going back to the nineteenth century, where secrecy, poverty and moral condemnation all worked unhealthily together. So it is with A.I.D.S. and H.I.V. and nowhere more so than in the case of children who have the disease. Their parents, for understandable reasons, hide the truth from them and yet the children may have to face the possibility of their own deaths and the deaths of their parents and other members of their extended family, with every eventuality shrouded in secrecy.
Many of the organisations who are concerned with H.I.V./ A.I.D.S. are staffed by volunteers and receive only part funding from Health Boards. There would seem to be an urgent need for further, more realistic funding, especially for counsellors, in this area.
Our next issue will be concerned with research in psychotherapy, its quality, its methodology, its efficacy. As always, we welcome your contributions, comments and letters on this and any other subject.