In the essay, “A Mask in the Face of Death,” Dr. Richard Selzer observes the devastation wrought on the people of Haiti by AIDS. Prostitution, sexual promiscuity, and attitudes of denial regarding the laws of cause and effect led to the spread of the AIDS virus in Haiti to levels of epidemic proportion. Effects of this epidemic were widespread suffering and certain death for many.
First of all, prostitution, caused by poverty, attracted tourism and was a common occupation in Haiti. It was one cause that rapidly generated the epidemic’s spread throughout the country. Of course, just as harlots from other countries journeyed to Haiti to take advantage of the vast economic opportunities, tourists voyaged there to satisfy their sexual desires.…show more content… Many of Haiti’s bisexual and homosexual inhabitants engaged in sexual promiscuity without monetary motive, recklessly satisfying the lusts of their flesh, radiating the AIDS epidemic without concern for the effects of their actions. Although bisexuality was a very natural behavior (612), they refused to use condoms (614) which would have somewhat helped them not to transmit the epidemic to one another so easily. Many bisexual male prostitutes satisfied their own desires by having sex with women after they had completed the task of pleasing their male clients (607). Furthermore, men who were carriers of the disease transmitted it to married men that they would periodically have intercourse with (612). Therefore, the married man took the anti-body home and shared it with his wife. Dr. Selzer notes, “Sixty percent of the wives or husbands of AIDS patients tested positive for the anti-body” (614). As a result, the AIDS epidemic spread rapidly through both males and females (612). Granted, bisexuality was not the only form of sexual promiscuity. While homosexuality was the biggest “taboo” (612), voodooists required men, in order to become a houngan, “to perform anal acts of sodomy on another man” (611). In addition, the houngans told their male followers that they must also commit this sodomy on their fellow gender to satisfy the spirits. Selzer illustrates telling the story “…of a nun who witnessed two acts of sodomy in a provincial hospital where she came upon a man sexually assaulting a houseboy and another man mounting a male patient in bed” (611). Perhaps if the people of Haiti had thought about their sexual lifestyles, AIDS would not have been transformed into such an