Human Question: Interview with Stefan Etgeton, Consumer rights activist (1)
Director: T. Jayashree
Duration: 00:20:00; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 355.432; Saturation: 0.160; Lightness: 0.443; Volume: 0.085; Cuts per Minute: 0.100; Words per Minute: 88.062
Small talk ...(Q: Brief introduction) What I am now doing or what I did before? (J: Just your name and where you work) I am Stefan Etgeton and now I am working for the umbrella organization of the Consumers' organization in Germany. And I am responsible for health policy in Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband. Before I worked for Duetche AIDE HILFE as a political director, and I am now responsible for public relations, lobbying, for the AIDS service organizations in Germany.
Stefan Etgeton introduces himself as the one responsible for Public relations and lobbying for the AIDS service organizations in Germany. He is responsible for health policy in Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband.
aids service organizations
duetche aide hilfe
Describes how and why he switched from working in the GayLiberation movement to the AIDS issue. He was very critical of a rigid AIDS policy that placed high importance on getting tested. Discusses the concept of German AIDS HILFE that calls for structural prevention -- accepting people's lifestyles.
(Q : How did it all start?) Well, first of all, I decided not to work on HIV and AIDS when it started, because I was working in the GayLiberation Movement. That was 1982 and 83, and there were many people, many friends of mine, they were switching from the Gaypolicy issue to the AIDS issue. And so I decided not to switch to the Gayissue. And we were working on, for example, sexual rights, punishment, and things like that - anti-discrimination. But more or less during the 80's , I was involved in the AIDS struggle because...and first of all, I think I was more critical to the AIDS Hilfe, because there was a certain idea of prevention, for example getting tested, and it was quite rigid in a way. And we were opposing against this rigid attitude of AIDS hilfe in the eighties. And finally we succeeded in changing the policy. It was not my firs t job, there were other ones, changing the AIDS policy so that the AIDS Hilfe became more critical to the tests as a means of prevention, and they developed what they later called structural prevention - that is, the concept of German AIDS Hilfe - Duetche AIDE HILFE, which means that you have to accept the lifestyles of people you are working with. You have, the very basis of prevention is self-help, self-organization, and you have to combine prevention of behavior and of circumstances, social circumstances. And also you combine the interests of people who are at risk - Gaypeople, people using drugs, for example, with the interest of people who are already infected, people with HIV and AIDS. So this is the framework, of the work of DAH when I started to work there in 1995
concept of german aids hilfe
duetche aide hilfe
gay liberation movement
people using drugs
Discusses the kinds of policies and people that were present the beginnings of the AIDS movement.
(Q: How was the group formed? Was it an NGO, or...you said it was part of the GayLiberation Movement..) Yes, first groups were mainly Gaypeople, or sometimes people who were infected, or Gaypeople who had a certain political impetus on HIV and AIDS. And then there were some groups of prostitutes who were, at first, one of the "risk" groups, politically risked anyway because there was a conservative government in Germany, and they tried to use, some of them tried to use AIDS as a means of repressing, of repression towards prostitution and drug use and even sexuality, Gay sexuality. So the first AIDS movement was not a political movement, and a movement of getting information to the people who are at risk, especially Gay people. But then it was, in the middle of the 80's, the government changed policy, and they accepted that the government is not able to get into contact with the affected groups - prostitutes, Gay people - and so they supported AIDS Hilfe as NGO, as self-help organization, to get information to Gay people, to prostitutes, to drug-using people, and to support them in their efforts for prevention.
Discusses the largely successful model of AIDS programs that exist in Germany, particularly the division of targets through the state, Governmental organizations, and NGOs.
(Q : Do you think this program has succeeded in Germany?) Yes, because you have, in Germany you have division of words, of targets. There is the state, and the governmental organizations, for example the Federal Centre for Health Education is responsible for the average population. And that is a very important part of the campaign. Because you have these commercials on prevention, you have the posters all over the...all over the republic, you can see them. And it's a sort of continuous message for the average people and for everyone. And then you have the NGO, AIDS Hilfe, for the target groups, for the affected groups - Gay people, people using drugs, and women who are at risk in any way, prostitutes are not at risk anyway so the prostitutes are not a target group, especially. And this division of work works quite good in Germany. And you have a certain amount of money spent for prevention in Germany - it was increasing and decreasing a little bit in the nineties, but when the government changed in Germany we have a more or less stabilized funding from AIDS prevention. It's not enough, of course, but it's a stable basis, solid basis.
division of targets
division of work
federal centre for health education
funding for aids prevention
Discusses laws that were relevant in the Gay Liberation movement during the sixties.
(Q : Was there any law which discriminated against gays or was it just social? And what was the position on HIV when it first started?) There was a law against Gaysexuality from the 19th century, and it was still...in the sixties, there was a reform in the sixties, but it still existed. There was a different limit of age to have sexual contact between heterosexuals and homosexuals. And there was still...a Gayman even put into prison because their partners were too young. So, due to the reunification of Germany, this law was abolished, because in the GDR, the East German part, they put it away years before. So due to the reunification, this was one of the advantages for the Gay people, of the reunification. But this was in the nineties. When the AIDS epidemic started, we still had... in Western Germany we still had this law - it was called paragraph 175. So there was still a sort of legal discrimination. Most of the Gay people did not notice - it was not a problem for them. So we had this Gay liberation and sexual liberation development in the sixties and seventies. And the social climate was better than in the fifties, of course. But there were many Gaypeople concerned about the AIDS issue - that it could be used by the conservative government to have it rolled back, in Gay liberation and sexual liberation. It didn't happen, but there were many fears about it.
gay liberation movement
reunification of germany
sexual liberation development
Discusses the advantages of the political climate in Germany that allowed for AIDS work to be effective.
(Q : There has to be a political will to do this large-scale kind of work...) I think the AIDS policy in Germany was very much influenced by the former Health Minister, she was called.. Her name was Rita Schismut, she was from the Conservative party but she was not that conservative. She was liberal in a way, or she is liberal. And she had a small group of people advising her - some of them were gay. And so...she had good advisors. And she...she was fighting for her policy, for education, prevention, and not repression. So I think it was a lucky situation that she was Minister of Health at this time. So she had the right attitude, and she had the power to realize her attitude. So if there were some different person, it could have been different. For example in France, the government ignored the problem of HIV very -very long time, and then there was a scandal with the blood products, and then they got aware of the problem. But they...it took years for the government to realize; the same in United States. And so we in Europe, we had two advantages, we had this good minister in Germany, and we had the knowledge of the epidemic from US, because it began in US and it came to Europe and Germany some years later. So we could be prepared for the epidemic. And that was an advantage too, I think. (Jayashree speaks for some time)
Discusses the prevalence in the beginning during the 70s and 80s, and the political climate in Germany at the time.
(Q : Were there a lot of cases in the beginning?) No, at the beginning... I think people were infected in the 70s because...we had two centers of the disease, Berlin and Frankfurt, and Frankfurt was even on the top of the agenda as there were many US soldiers near Frankfurt. So, I think there were many people infected even in the 70's, but they were tested, of course, at the beginning of the 80's. And there was a ...of course there were many people tested, who were infected years before. So we had a big number first, and this was a stable number, I don't know the exact number. And then after some years of prevention it decreased. But it took some years, many years, to decrease the number of infections, of course. Although first, the first years, people were afraid of getting tested, because you didn't know what the consequences could be. There was no treatment, but there was political repression first, or it was the threat of political. So I think many people would not get tested, although they were at risk. That's different to the situation right now
Discusses the AIDS struggle within the context of the Gay Liberation movement, changing attitudes towards sexuality, particularly homosexuality.
(Q : How's it changed now?) Well, I think first of all, the fear of discrimination against Gay people - that's changed very-very fundamentally. Because...and even due to the AIDS struggle and the discussion about sexuality, Gay sexuality in the context of AIDS. And due to the responsibility Gay people took for HIV and AIDS, I think this was one of the elements that discrimination against Gay people is very-very decreasing. It's not over, but it's decreasing. And we have, for example, the opportunity of Gay "marriages" right now, and there are big demonstrations, and the Christopher street day celebrated even by (laughs and resumes). Christopher day celebrated even by politicians. We have an open Gay mayor in Berlin, and more or less open in Hamburg. So there is a big change in this issue. And we had some progress in terms of drug policy. So we have consumer groups now in Germany, we have a program to get heroin substitution, we have substitution programs - methadone, and this was all done...we argued with HIV and AIDS, of course, to establish those programs for drug using people. And we have, for example, now the prostitution is an accepted job, profession. You can get social security as a prostitute, if you want. Many don't want because they have to pay money, but that's another problem.
christopher street day
discrimination against gay people
gay liberation movement
open gay mayor
Discusses the changes in quality of life that has happened over the decades for AIDS patients and how this influences prevention work.
So in terms of social development, there are many progresses. And in the nineties, the AIDS phenomenon itself changed a lot due to the new treatment. So in terms of life perspective and life quality, and even the way how people with AIDS die - because they still die, of course. But they die different. For example, in the eighties, it was a very long process of dying. We now face a situation that people are stabilised by the treatment and die very very suddenly..
quality of life