PROTECTING LIVES - Let's Talk About AIDS or Talk About NOT Talking About It

  • metta

    Posts: 39167

    Dec 03, 2010 11:03 PM GMT

    Talking about AIDS – or not


    [quote]
    In the last six months, three friends of mine tested positive for HIV. All of them are younger than me; I’m 22.

    Some weeks ago, John Corvino posed the question in his column, “Why aren’t we talking more about HIV?” and went on to tell about his fortysomething friend who had several unprotected hookups with twentysomethings. With HIV infection rates on the rise, particularly among younger gay men, the question is an important one to ask: Why aren’t older gays who remember the horror of the AIDS epidemic talking with younger gays about safe sex?
    [/quote]

    [quote]
    But with this evolution, I’m concerned that many important things younger gays used to learn from older generations are no longer being communicated.

    There is a dangerous absence of intergenerational dialogue about HIV in particular. Infection rates are rising among young gay men, but condoms remain too often unrequired.

    Our community must find a way to restore this conversation, as we cannot expect the sex education offered in schools to be adequate. I recognize the difficulty in achieving this, and I’m not sure what the solution is—I encourage readers to share their thoughts.
    [/quote]

    More here:
    http://www.365gay.com/opinion/whiteside-talking-about-aids-or-not/
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 03, 2010 11:18 PM GMT
    I don't know how accurate this view is, of older gays not telling younger gays about HIV. I know my partner & I do, through several agencies with which we work.

    But frankly, we don't usually socialize with 20-somethings, being in our 60s & 70s. That's why we support our local organized outreach efforts to young gays, by those trained with these skills, with programs and resources that hopefully best target and reach them, certainly better than we're personally equipped to do.

    My partner likes to tell this rather depressing encounter he had at a gay bar 2 years ago. He overheard 2 guys, who looked early 20s, discussing their most recent sexual encounters. And one asked the other if he used a condom.

    "Nah, AIDS only happens to guys over 35," his buddy answered quite seriously. My partner, who like me lost a partner to AIDS, and who works with Florida's largest HIV/AIDS non-profilt agency, couldn't restrain himself.

    He apologized for interrupting, but told the young man that he was wrong about HIV being dependent upon age. The guy said to my partner, what do you know, you're an old man. To which my partner replied, yes I'm old because I know these things, while you'll be lucky to reach 40 believing such misinformation. And he let the exchange break off, not willing to waste more of his time.

    But he did share that encounter with the people who run our outreach program, to help them know what these young guys are thinking, so they can counter it. Because I believe it isn't just about whether older men want to talk about the HIV risk, but also if younger men themselves want to listen. They bear some responsibility for their own welfare, too.
  • metta

    Posts: 39167

    Dec 04, 2010 12:12 AM GMT
    I agree with everything that you have said. icon_smile.gif

    But I do hope that we can find something to at least help to correct the misinformation out there.

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    Dec 04, 2010 1:58 AM GMT
    Art_Deco saidMy partner likes to tell this rather depressing encounter he had at a gay bar 2 years ago. He overheard 2 guys, who looked early 20s, discussing their most recent sexual encounters. And one asked the other if he used a condom.

    "Nah, AIDS only happens to guys over 35," his buddy answered quite seriously.




    That's not just illogical, it's downright bizarre. Where would that idea even come from? It's AIDS, not prostate cancer.


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    Dec 04, 2010 2:52 AM GMT
    muscles4muscles said
    Art_Deco saidMy partner likes to tell this rather depressing encounter he had at a gay bar 2 years ago. He overheard 2 guys, who looked early 20s, discussing their most recent sexual encounters. And one asked the other if he used a condom.

    "Nah, AIDS only happens to guys over 35," his buddy answered quite seriously.




    That's not just illogical, it's downright bizarre. Where would that idea even come from? It's AIDS, not prostate cancer.




    Part of Wizard first rule (Terry GoodKind):

    People are stupid.They will believe any lie because they want it to be true.
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    Dec 04, 2010 8:56 AM GMT
    Obviously the newer generation has no recollection of the 80s horror show that most of us remember & felt happening all around us. Talk about being young & stupid, I myself remember in the late 80s seeing this "gay cancer" unfold on tv & even though I knew I was gay I thought "well that only happens in california, good thing im not there" but was still scared none the less.

    Our ignorance of an issue only perpetuates the idea of believing what we want to believe. Same goes for now for ex. "we're in a monogamous relationship, we dont need condoms, he'll never cheat on me" this was another ignorance of mine when I found out I was positive.

    The younger generation sees wonderful vibrant healthy ads of men with hiv, & that you only have to take 1 pill a day and thats it. So where is the need for them to worry? Its almost equivalent to a morning after pill for straight couples so they can fuck with no restraints & think there will be no responsibilities attached to it.

    Unfortunately the good ole sex days of the 60s & 70s are gone, & now we are left to face these problems. If the media, especially the gay media promotes the no care, big deal attitude towards gays then why would they care if they get it or not.

    I'll be the first to say I dont like condoms but I wish now I never wouldve stopped using them. Even in small town suburbia like where I live my hiv case worker says they are getting a staggering # of new young people being diagnosed.

    Its a shame that in actuality its still an epidimic & spreading like wild fire but everyone seems to think its no big deal, just pop a pill & you'll be ok. Atleast thats what the drug companies want you to think, believe me its just the beginning of the problem.

    Reaching the younger generation is going to have to take some form of mass media event like in the 80s or have younger diagnosed people speak out on the truths of the disease, its a shame though because due to medical advances & the stigma still attached to this disease I dont see either happening anytime soon.
  • dfrourke

    Posts: 1062

    Dec 06, 2010 7:22 AM GMT
    Actually, there was an amazing article in Details or Out or the Advocate in the last year or so about 20- somethings and 40-somethings dressing similarly and occupying the same venues for socializing...

    ...the point of the article was that because of the devastation of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 80's the gay community lost an entire generation of mentorship to those who are 30/40's and that 30/40's generation in turn is not familiar with how to mentor 20/30's today...

    It was a completely fascinating article which also stated by occupying the same social venues, that mentorship is starting to naturally occur again...

    Not sure if that answer or phenomenon addresses your question exactly, but I thought it was an interesting article...I'll see if I can find it and post a link.

    - David icon_wink.gif
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    Dec 06, 2010 8:43 AM GMT
    Probably because the message is out-dated. Can you really blame them? It's been the same message for 30+ years to no avail, after all... icon_neutral.gif
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    Dec 06, 2010 3:30 PM GMT
    Animus saidProbably because the message is out-dated. Can you really blame them? It's been the same message for 30+ years to no avail, after all... icon_neutral.gif



    Like smoking is bad for you? That message is 30 years old and is still true. icon_wink.gif

    -Doug

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    Dec 06, 2010 3:37 PM GMT
    I just got tested again this weekend... I'm negative. And although I do and have done all the stuff to stay negative, I am still scared shitless whenever I go in for the test. Being HIV+ may not be a death sentence anymore (and thank God it's not), but I still wish more people still treated it like the serious piece of business it is.
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    Dec 06, 2010 3:44 PM GMT
    SAHEM62896 saidI just got tested again this weekend... I'm negative. And although I do and have done all the stuff to stay negative, I am still scared shitless whenever I go in for the test. Being HIV+ may not be a death sentence anymore (and thank God it's not), but I still wish more people still treated it like the serious piece of business it is.



    ...and co$tly.

    -Doug
  • Sk8Tex

    Posts: 738

    Dec 06, 2010 4:07 PM GMT
    Well I am gonna throw this out there for those that think along the lines of the 20 somethines in Art_Decos reply.

    I was with my ex for 5 years when he was diagnosed with AIDS, which mean't he had it the whole time he was with me and his cell count had gotten to low enough levels to be diagnosed with end stage AIDS. He was older than me by about 15 years and he knew, but didn't say a thing to me for 4 1/2 years until he got sick with pneumonia and was hospitalized. Even then he didn't come right out and tell me, I just over heard what the nurses were talking about with his chart and put 2 and 2 together.

    I freaked out.. we split up, and immediatly I started looking at myself differently in the mirror each time I saw myself. I guess I had begun to accept on some psychological level that I now have his disease and theres nothing that I can do to get rid of it. So.. I looked myself in the face in the mirror time and time again and thought to myself, hell even said aloud a few times.. that I had just ruined my life. Thought things like who is going to want to be with me now that I have this sickness, and that all I had to look forward to was years of sickness and medication spent alone.

    It wasn't until about 6 months later when I met someone who was HIV positive (he was 32) that started teaching me more and more about it. After weeks of being a bitch to me he finally convinced me to go to the local clinic and get tested to see if it was official, and to get on some medication if it turned out positive. He went with me and sat in the chair next to me trying to provide comfort, but nothing was going to comfort me while waiting for that test result to come out. The nurse called me in and asked me all kinds of questions about my previous partner, and then he told me I was HIV negative.

    I immediatly started crying right there in front of this stranger and I couldnt stop. Somewhere between sobbing and laughing out of this immense sense of joy I was feeling that I somehow dodged this bullet I choked out a, "Thank you." and went back outside in the waiting room to tell me friend that it came up negative. He was happy for me, but at the same time I was sad for him because his story didnt turn out so well.

    This changed my life and the way I see people who are HIV+ and with AIDS. There is a severe lack of talking about it, as well as many lies that for whatever reason people just dont come right out and question when the thought occurs to them. Since then I have met several men here and there who are HIV+ or living with AIDS, and they live in a state of fear of being found out by their friends and other people they hang out with. That it will somehow push everyone away from them and no one will want to associate with them. There seems to be a deep sense of shame attached to being HIV+ and maybe that has to disappear first before people can just talk about it openly.

    Anyways that's my $0.02
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    Dec 06, 2010 4:13 PM GMT
    Sk8Tex saidWell I am gonna throw this out there for those that think along the lines of the 20 somethines in Art_Decos reply.

    I was with my ex for 5 years when he was diagnosed with AIDS, which mean't he had it the whole time he was with me and his cell count had gotten to low enough levels to be diagnosed with end stage AIDS. He was older than me by about 15 years and he knew, but didn't say a thing to me for 4 1/2 years until he got sick with pneumonia and was hospitalized. Even then he didn't come right out and tell me, I just over heard what the nurses were talking about with his chart and put 2 and 2 together.

    I freaked out.. we split up, and immediatly I started looking at myself differently in the mirror each time I saw myself. I guess I had begun to accept on some psychological level that I now have his disease and theres nothing that I can do to get rid of it. So.. I looked myself in the face in the mirror time and time again and thought to myself, hell even said aloud a few times.. that I had just ruined my life. Thought things like who is going to want to be with me now that I have this sickness, and that all I had to look forward to was years of sickness and medication spent alone.

    It wasn't until about 6 months later when I met someone who was HIV positive (he was 32) that started teaching me more and more about it. After weeks of being a bitch to me he finally convinced me to go to the local clinic and get tested to see if it was official, and to get on some medication if it turned out positive. He went with me and sat in the chair next to me trying to provide comfort, but nothing was going to comfort me while waiting for that test result to come out. The nurse called me in and asked me all kinds of questions about my previous partner, and then he told me I was HIV negative.

    I immediatly started crying right there in front of this stranger and I couldnt stop. Somewhere between sobbing and laughing out of this immense sense of joy I was feeling that I somehow dodged this bullet I choked out a, "Thank you." and went back outside in the waiting room to tell me friend that it came up negative. He was happy for me, but at the same time I was sad for him because his story didnt turn out so well.

    This changed my life and the way I see people who are HIV+ and with AIDS. There is a severe lack of talking about it, as well as many lies that for whatever reason people just dont come right out and question when the thought occurs to them. Since then I have met several men here and there who are HIV+ or living with AIDS, and they live in a state of fear of being found out by their friends and other people they hang out with. That it will somehow push everyone away from them and no one will want to associate with them. There seems to be a deep sense of shame attached to being HIV+ and maybe that has to disappear first before people can just talk about it openly.

    Anyways that's my $0.02


    You know that was a really great read and you touched my heart in several ways.
    Thanks.

    -Doug
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    Dec 06, 2010 4:14 PM GMT
    A lot of people my age don't take AIDS and HIV all that seriously anymore. The way I look at it, they see men with AIDS or HIV leading healthy lives and think: 'Ohhh, look at them. They have AIDS or HIV yet they still lead normal lives. Well then, I guess I can go out and have as much sex as I want and if I'm infected, I can take medication for it and everything will be alright.'

    It's also important to remember that there is A LOT of misinformation about AIDS and HIV in general such as where it came from, how it's spread, what 'groups' have the highest rates, why those 'groups' have the highest rates, what can we do do curtail it's spread, and so on.
  • metta

    Posts: 39167

    Dec 06, 2010 4:24 PM GMT
    @Sk8Tex

    Wow...thank you for sharing your experience. There are many lessons that we can hopefully all learn from that. hugsmilie.gif
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    Dec 06, 2010 4:34 PM GMT
    metta8 said@Sk8Tex

    Wow...thank you for sharing your experience. There are many lessons that we can hopefully all learn from that. hugsmilie.gif



    Knock-out post, wasn't it?

    -Doug
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    Dec 06, 2010 4:53 PM GMT
    metta8 saidI agree with everything that you have said. icon_smile.gif

    But I do hope that we can find something to at least help to correct the misinformation out there.

    Well, among the many thousands of lessons I learned in the US Army, that I've carried into retired civilian life, is that we ourselves don't always have all the answers, nor the talent for every task.

    And when we don't, and there's a job to be done, we turn to those who do know, and who do have the talent & ability that we ourselves lack. And that's why my partner & I support and fund agencies & programs that accomplish the important work with young gays you mention, that is outside our own personal skill set.

    But at least we do SOMETHING, not merely sitting on the sidelines and commenting but doing nothing more. There is always some way in which everyone can make a contribution in our gay community, if they really want to contribute substance, rather than sympathy.
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    Dec 07, 2010 2:27 AM GMT
    Sk8Tex saidWell I am gonna throw this out there for those that think along the lines of the 20 somethines in Art_Decos reply.

    I was with my ex for 5 years when he was diagnosed with AIDS, which mean't he had it the whole time he was with me and his cell count had gotten to low enough levels to be diagnosed with end stage AIDS. He was older than me by about 15 years and he knew, but didn't say a thing to me for 4 1/2 years until he got sick with pneumonia and was hospitalized. Even then he didn't come right out and tell me, I just over heard what the nurses were talking about with his chart and put 2 and 2 together.

    I freaked out.. we split up, and immediatly I started looking at myself differently in the mirror each time I saw myself. I guess I had begun to accept on some psychological level that I now have his disease and theres nothing that I can do to get rid of it. So.. I looked myself in the face in the mirror time and time again and thought to myself, hell even said aloud a few times.. that I had just ruined my life. Thought things like who is going to want to be with me now that I have this sickness, and that all I had to look forward to was years of sickness and medication spent alone.

    It wasn't until about 6 months later when I met someone who was HIV positive (he was 32) that started teaching me more and more about it. After weeks of being a bitch to me he finally convinced me to go to the local clinic and get tested to see if it was official, and to get on some medication if it turned out positive. He went with me and sat in the chair next to me trying to provide comfort, but nothing was going to comfort me while waiting for that test result to come out. The nurse called me in and asked me all kinds of questions about my previous partner, and then he told me I was HIV negative.

    I immediatly started crying right there in front of this stranger and I couldnt stop. Somewhere between sobbing and laughing out of this immense sense of joy I was feeling that I somehow dodged this bullet I choked out a, "Thank you." and went back outside in the waiting room to tell me friend that it came up negative. He was happy for me, but at the same time I was sad for him because his story didnt turn out so well.

    This changed my life and the way I see people who are HIV+ and with AIDS. There is a severe lack of talking about it, as well as many lies that for whatever reason people just dont come right out and question when the thought occurs to them. Since then I have met several men here and there who are HIV+ or living with AIDS, and they live in a state of fear of being found out by their friends and other people they hang out with. That it will somehow push everyone away from them and no one will want to associate with them. There seems to be a deep sense of shame attached to being HIV+ and maybe that has to disappear first before people can just talk about it openly.

    Anyways that's my $0.02


    Fantastic post. Thank you.
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    Dec 09, 2010 12:59 AM GMT
    Sk8Tex you learned the valuable lesson that as human beings it isn't so difficult to make MISTAKES in our lives. One wrong turn you hit and kill a kid. 15 minutes of unprotected sex can give you HIV. People have no empathy. They forget they make mistakes everyday.