RSS
 

Posts Tagged ‘HIV/AIDS’

Movie: “House of Boys”

31 Mar

This movie wasn’t what I expected; it was so much more.

The tale begins with a young blonde-headed boy (“Frank”) born to a conservative family who just doesn’t seem to understand him. Frank is gay, leaves home and begins the adventure of a lifetime; one that will take him from dancing a carefree life in the clubs to performing at the “House of Boys” and onward through love and loss.

The House of Boys is best described as a gay club doubling as a brothel for those willing to pay for private shows (and favors) by the club’s “working boys.”

“Jake” is, by his own confession, a straight boy working in the club with whom Frank will share a room.

The blonde is smitten with Jake from the first night but Jake’s love of the boy will take longer to build.

As the movie unfolds, the seedier side of the club is made more evident as Frank observes Jake being led to the back room for a private show with a well-to-do designer from America who flies in once a month to spend time with the object of Frank’s affections. Angry and hurt, the young blonde bursts out of the house to spend a bit of time alone in the rain — but it’s now becoming a bit more obvious that Jake does have some feelings for Frank.


Read the rest of this entry »

Share
 

Catholic Church: ACTS HIV Ministry

10 Apr

Pope Benedict XIV in BarcelonaSomebody recently posted a link to the ACTS HIV Ministry in a private group of which I am a member. This ministry is born of the Catholic Church and purports to be an outreach program to “spread the Gospel of Jesus through ACTS retreats to men and women affected or infected by HIV/AIDS.” Sounds honorable, but…

At what cost?

I consider myself a faithful person (so much so that some friends tend to question my intentions when I try to gently remind them that not all Christians are ass-hats whose sole purpose in life is to judge those of us who are gay for being gay).

However, I will be the first to say I am deeply suspicious of anything originating within the Catholic Church as regards homosexuality. While I recognize the RCC has done some good work over the years — its attitude, in general, toward all matters homosexual (and as well, regarding HIV/AIDS) has left much to be desired.

I recently “threw in the towel and ended a friendship” with somebody who is (by ‘his’ own definition) not gay but rather, “suffers from SSA” (same sex attraction). {rolls eyes} The friendship ended not because he is gay — that would be a stupid reason for I too am gay — but rather, because of his general attitude.

His is a journey he has chosen BECAUSE of his (and I imagine his family’s) strict interpretation of what the Catholic Church expects of its congregants who identify as being SSA (or homosexual/bisexual by any reasonable description of one’s sexuality). Not only does he come across as extremely judgmental and self-aggrandizing (both, traits that he and the Church have in common)… He cannot even concede that the intentions of homosexual advocacy groups — the majority of which share only one agenda, which is to encourage open dialogue, acceptance and tolerance of the LGBTQ community — are honorable and noteworthy. Because of his ongoing (and in my opinion, destructive) influence by the Catholic Church, he cannot even find worth in a group such as PFLAG.

There are a growing number of churches out there who DO embrace those of us who identify as LGBTQ; I just happen to question the Catholic Church’s motives and real intent anytime they pretend to be accepting of something they have so clearly stood against all these many years. But that is my opinion and to each their own. Just as I hold no grudges against [other] persons of faith, neither do I have any real grudge against those who consider themselves members in good standing of the Catholic Church.

One’s actions define his or her true worthiness and value as a human being; not necessarily his or her affiliation with any one group or organization.

Namaste,
Michael

Share
 
1 Comment

Posted in Opinions

 

HIV Criminalization

24 Mar

HIV is not a crime.We need to prosecute people who have been diagnosed as having the flu, who then knowingly walk amongst the rest of us in public. After all, influenza can have devastating effects on a person’s ability to function and worst-case scenario, some persons even die because of the flu. Keep your sick self at home; don’t you dare take a chance on infecting the rest of us who are healthy and for lack of a better word, “clean” you dirty, dirty person you!

This same attitude should be adopted as regards people who test positive for human papillomavirus (pap-ah-LO-mah-VYE-rus) (HPV). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) links several types of cancer to HPV and they estimate that at least 50% of sexually active people will test positive for the virus at some point during their lives. Oh my God! I’m so afraid – I feel the need to crawl back under my rock and never, EVER take a chance on “experiencing the blessing that is life” ever again.

Now let’s talk about Hepatitis (A, B and/or C), another virus of varying strains that affects a growing number of persons in the world today. We should do our part to further stigmatize and criminalize those living with hepatitis. After all, approximately 100 Americans die each year from Hepatitis A and the disease is transmittable. For shame; you people should stay home and keep your tawdry disease to yourselves!

If you’re reading this blog entry and thinking to yourself, “Michael is frikken’ nuts” — rest easy.

I haven’t (lost my mind); I’m just being very, VERY sarcastic in an attempt to demonstrate how RIDICULOUS the criminalization laws affecting persons who are living with HIV truly are.


Read the rest of this entry »

Share
 
1 Comment

Posted in Politics

 

World AIDS Day (yesterday)

02 Dec

World AIDS Day (12/1)

Yesterday (12/1) was World AIDS Day and although the current theme is “Getting to Zero,” the fight against the disease is far from over. If you are presently sexually active or on the verge of becoming so, educate yourself on matters pertaining to your own health safety. Don’t forget to be careful; use condoms and make every attempt to do so correctly and help prevent the spread of HIV.

Namaste,
Michael

Related Links:

Share
 
1 Comment

Posted in Health

 

HIV and You

05 Sep

I regularly follow the POZIAM blog and [tonight] was a first-time listener to the radio show, as well.

One of the listeners in the audience was recently featured on CNNHealth. Michael Lee Howard tells his story of being HIV-positive and what the tattoos on his wrists represent for him.

There is one point that was made in the related video that I would have to disagree with. Michael makes the observation if you were/are HIV-positive and “you saw somebody [else] with the biohazard symbol” you could assume they were HIV-positive, as well. Okay but it’s what is said next that I disagree with on principle; that just because they and you are both HIV-positive, that it’s perfectly safe to be with that person. (Actually, it is but the inference here is it would be alright to have unprotected sex with that person just because you’re both HIV-positive.) I’m sorry but that’s short-sighted on so many different levels — or perhaps I am reading too much into the statement.

And don’t misunderstand; there is NO reason to go into a panic over this; I’ve known many couples over the years where one partner is positive and the other is HIV-negative.

Just because a person is HIV-positive does not mean they are going to expose his or her partner to the disease and just because two people are BOTH HIV-positive does not mean there’s an inherent safety factor should the two choose to have [unprotected] sexual relations. It’s all about taking precautions and practicing safe (or “safer” if that is the phrase you’re more comfortable with) sex. Two persons who are both positive, should they choose to have unprotected sex, run a real risk of further endangering their lives by infecting themselves and each other with a “different strain of the virus”, consequently resulting in what is commonly referred to as a superinfection.

I only mention this because on two separate occasions, I’ve dated or have fallen for somebody who used my HIV-status as leverage to demonstrate how much they cared for me. Both individuals were willing to put their own health at risk, suggesting they wanted to bareback so that they “would have everything that I had.” Firstly, that demonstrates a lack of self-respect on the other’s part for even taking such an unnecessary risk… (Either that, or it’s a matter of really being immature. In the case of the second, that is more likely the case.) Secondly, I don’t understand how somebody could expect me to be alright with intentionally exposing someone I love and care about (to HIV). As regards the person who more recently tried leveraging my status, I never came right out and said, “No, I’m not okay with this” but the conversation would have inevitably taken place as I never wanted (nor do I want now) to see harm come to him.

Moving along…

Ask about your partner’s status; don’t assume they’re negative “unless” he or she says something to the contrary. And never ever practice anything but safer sex until you’ve been in a monogamous relationship with the person long enough to feel secure in the knowledge he or she won’t cheat on you AND you’ve both tested negative for the virus. Then and ONLY then should you even think about entertaining the idea of having unprotected sex, and if the dynamics of the relationship change for the worse at a later date “practice safer sex each and every time.”

Lest you be thinking I’m trying to instill a sense of panic in those who are HIV-negative, I’m not. Just be sensible, that’s all I ask. Also, just because a person you might be interested in dating turns out to be HIV-positive doesn’t mean you need to shut down and look elsewhere but do understand that safer-sex should always be your practice when expressing your love for one another.

Likewise, don’t be afraid to date or be involved in a relationship with somebody who is HIV-positive and do not assume that in order to be with someone who is positive, you need expose yourself to the virus, as well. You should always take precautions to prevent yourself from becoming exposed to the virus; that’s a matter of common sense but don’t entertain an irrational fear of the “what if’s”to the extent that it might prevent you from enjoying the relationship you were [ultimately] destined to experience in this lifetime.

On the flip-side, if you’ve recently become diagnosed as HIV-positive,
it’s not the end of the world.

Yes, you will need to develop a thick skin in order to tolerate the ignorance that is all-too-abundantly displayed in the world as regards HIV/AIDS (that much is certain). You and your doctor will also need to discuss the pros and cons of starting a regimen of meds to prevent the virus from progressing and/or to prevent the onset of opportunistic infections. Your life will change but it’s not the end of it by any measure, unless you choose to allow it to be.

If you’re single and recently diagnosed, recognize that being HIV-positive does not mean you won’t find “Mister- or Miss Right” somewhere along the way. Be patient and don’t let the ignorant people (there are many) cause you to lose hope. Truth be known, if a person is worth having he or she will see beyond your HIV status.

Namaste,
Michael

Share
 
12 Comments

Posted in Health

 

Condoms and the Porn Industry

03 Aug

A recent blog entry on a website that I sometimes follow mentioned an interesting article that appeared on the Courthouse News Service.

The focus of the article had to do with the hardcore pornography industry and how STD infection rates in Los Angeles County have spiraled upwards in recent years.

AIDS Group Can’t Force Safe Sex in Porno Films

     (CN) – Hardcore pornography actors in Los Angeles cannot be compelled to use condoms by the health department, a California appeals court ruled.
     The AIDS Healthcare Foundation and its president, Michael Weinstein, sought a writ of mandamus that would compel the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to require the use of condoms, as well as hepatitis B vaccinations, for actors in the adult film industry.
     Failure to act by the department allowed the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, the foundation claimed.
     The trial court dismissed the complaint, and the Los Angeles-based California Court of Appeals affirmed in ruling in an opinion written by Justice Richard Aldrich.
     STD infection diagnoses among adult film performers in Los Angeles County, the epicenter of the porn industry, have skyrocketed in recent years, according to the health department, which found that there were 2,847 infections among 1,884 performers between 2004 and 2008.
     An outbreak of HIV also afflicted the porn industry in 2004, according to the department.
     Even so, the foundation cannot tell the health department exactly how to control the spread of disease, according to the June 16 ruling, which was certified for publication on Friday.
     “Even if the foundation believes the department’s efforts are not effective, the foundation cannot obtain mandamus relief for this alleged violation,” Aldrich wrote. “The decision on what steps to take to control the spread of sexually transmitted diseases is entrusted to the department.” 

Not surprisingly, given that the fear of the spread of HIV has dissipated somewhat over the years, contributing to a lazy, unhealthy and irresponsible attitude toward the virus that is held by far too many. That attitude has [consequently] led to a rise in HIV infections in recent years (as compared to infections following the initial response and education with regard to the disease in the 1990’s).

I’ve included a copy of the original article, which appears here (see inset at right). My comment on the POZIAM website appears below.

 

I’m of two minds on this matter… On the one hand, I believe it is the responsibility of the employers in the industry to [freely] set the guidelines (and suffer the consequences when those of us watching their wares decide we don’t agree with their lack of personal responsibility in the matter and choose instead to boycott some of the filmmakers in favor of those who choose to require/encourage condom use and education instead).


Read the rest of this entry »

Share
 
 

Condoms, Me and HIV

12 Jun

Three cartoon condoms with caption that reads "Use us properly and we'll be your best friend"This blog entry isn’t (honestly, it isn’t) intended to be an attack on anyone’s faith. Having said this, I don’t believe the Catholic Church or any other organized religion that preaches abstinence is doing anyone any favors.

First off there’s the unnecessary feelings of guilt that are felt by those who consider themselves to be strong in their faith but “Weak with the willy.”

Secondly, there are a number of resources that claim masturbation is in fact quite healthy for you. A friend suggested (in a comment made on another entry) that anal sex increases your chances of cancer of the rectum or the anus. I’m not sure about that; my ass (wide as it is) happens to be doing just fine. Other parts of my body haven’t fared as well but my buttocks appears to be fat and happy. And as for masturbation in general, it’s a commonly held belief among researchers that regular ejaculation helps keep the semen healthy. Another words, “Spankin’ the monkey” is thought to prevent the buildup of cancer-causing chemicals which might lead to the development of prostate cancer. Who KNEW that a medical treatment could be so much fun!

“Cancer” Tangent…

According to the Wiley Online Library, men in More Developed Areas have a three in ten chance of developing some kind of cancer IRREGARDLESS of their sexual habits (women, a little over two in ten chances).

What is even more interesting is that this same source suggests men have a much lower risk of cancer (17% or 1.7 in ten persons) in Less Developed Areas (with women following suit at 14% or 1.4 in ten). I’m only guessing but I’m inclined to wonder if this has more to do with their/our eating habits. We eat entirely too much “fast food” and processed food here in the U.S., for instance and I can’t help but wonder what chemicals might be found in the foods we eat, which are only there in order to “preserve” them for long periods of time.

Or maybe they just jack off a lot more in underdeveloped areas! c:

I’m getting off on a tangent; we’ll revisit this topic at a later date, I promise (because I really find these statistics to be a bit interesting!)

Masturbation does wonders for one’s stress levels also (with one exception — when you want to get off and are having a problem in doing so — in which case the process is only another source of frustration! LOL)


Read the rest of this entry »

Share
 
4 Comments

Posted in Health

 

Gilead and Truvada

10 Jun

It seems as if I’m on an “HIV streak” of recent… Really, it’s not as if I’m preoccupied with the subject matter but oddly enough, a lot has been happening that has placed it right before my face. First there was the unfortunate breakup with someone I care a great deal about, which my own HIV status did play a factor in (a large factor as it turns out — that and “fear” and saddest of all, the meddling on the part of another who has his own agenda.. but I digress). More to the point…

Photo of Gilead's blue pill with caption reading "There is no magic pill"

I don’t know how many of you have heard about this “so-called magic pill” produced by Gilead Sciences Inc. It’s touted as a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and the manufacturer is hoping to push through approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (for the expanded labeling) — but we’re not there yet, folks! An early study of the pill’s effectiveness suggests that it’s success rate as a preventative measure is only at about 44% (percent). While that means that a little more than four persons out of every ten might benefit from use of the pill in the short term, that same study indicates just under six in ten persons NO MORE PROTECTION against the virus than they would have “without the pill.”

What does this mean? For starters, if people start mistakenly believing they (or their sexual partners) are “protected” from HIV by this pill, their confidence is misplaced and their actions may likely become more “risky” over time (putting them, ultimately at a HIGHER RISK of becoming infected).


Read the rest of this entry »

Share
 
 

Living with HIV (and the attitudes of others)

08 Jun

40,000,000 affected by HIV/AIDSIn my last blog entry I made the comment, I knew in that instant that my life would never again be the same; that others would see me differently and that my dating prospects had been greatly reduced in the short span of only a few minutes. Thinking about this a bit more carefully, I think it’s fair to say I wasn’t exactly thinking of “dating” when I first found out I’d been exposed to the virus (I thought about this much later on) but I did realize my life would never again be the same.

A Little History…

I’d attended the funerals of quite a few friends during the early years when we had only just begun learning about the virus. Very little was known about HIV/AIDS back then. In the beginning, it was simply referred to by many as “the gay plague.” The heterosexual community had a false sense of security (just as some STILL feel) and many within the religious community cited the disease as “God’s wrath on gays.” Nothing could have been further from the truth, then or today.


Read the rest of this entry »

Share
 

HIV & Me

04 Jun

The meds available today, for which those of us afflicted with HIV/AIDS are very, VERY thankful for have also fostered an attitude of cavalier disregard for the disease. Far too many, both in the gay community and as well, in the straight and/or bisexual communities have become too complacent in their attitudes toward “safer-sex” practices. This has resulted in an increase in the spread of the disease at a time when our economy really isn’t (was it ever?) in a position to respond effectively. This entry is about the unsuitable attitude many young people in serious relationships feel, with regard to HIV.

Another blogger writes about Serious Relationships = Serious Risk (opening up an important topic about how young gay couples sometimes — all too often — have a false sense of security about sex and as a consequence, end up participating in unsafe practices whereas the opposite would behoove them).

I’ll admit that my first comment to that blog entry was cynical. This is a touchy subject for me because I was [almost] always very careful to avoid activities which would put me at higher risk of being exposed to HIV back when I was much younger and before I met my ex (Greg). Unfortunately, it was my ex who did expose me to the virus while we were living together and while I hold him responsible for “lying” to me about his HIV status at the time, I hold myself accountable for “believing” him without insisting on a test to see for myself (before making the decision to have unprotected sex with him). So, the cynicism and the anger I feel about this particular topic is directed not only at him but at myself as well.

That said, one reader on this other blog (see link in second paragraph) did ask the question, “if they do get the 2 tests and then don’t get into bed with anyone else but each other, it is safe then, right?


Read the rest of this entry »

Share