April 16, 2009

The Sting

Today I saw a young man who believes he saw the face of death, and it was in the mirror. He doesn’t realize yet that a positive HIV result is not the quick death sentence that it used to be. But it will absolutely change his quality of life and shorten it. He looked about twenty years old.

His boyfriend paced just outside the entrance with a cigarette, waiting for his turn in the clinic. He looked at the floor when he walked by the desk at the AIDS support center. I didn’t see either of them leave, but my heart and prayers went with them. Life has changed irrevocably for them both.

If this doesn’t apply to you, it does apply to someone you know:

HIV is still out there, and it continues to spread at an alarming rate in both hetero- and homosexual communities. It comes down to this: don’t even ask a potential partner their sero status; just assume every time the answer is positive. The best answer they can give you is the result of the last test they had, and it may have changed since then. They may honestly not know. It is not worth the risk to trust the answer “No, I’m negative.”

Always, always, always use a condom. Always. And understand that there is still a possibility, however small, of transmission. (It isn't "safe" sex, it's "safer" sex.)

Just as is the case in all risky situations, you must measure risk vs. reward. Is there a balance? With HIV, there is no reward worth the risk of this disease. Someone you know knows someone with AIDS. It’s out there, and it’s still infecting people. It’s preventable. Don’t allow yourself or someone you know to get stung.


Ur-spo said...

I know many people with HIV - everyone feels like the end of the world happens. Many of them (thanks be to God) are doing well - some 20 years later.
I see more young people getting HIV and it does not make sense. I think there is an element of 'well there are meds for this, so it is worth the gamble. It won't be me'. the folly of youth remains no matter what.

BTW that photo is very creepy

Java said...

That is an uber creepy photo! I'm don't really have bug phobia much, but scorpions are ... ick.

Timely message. I can't imagine being in that situation. It must be so incredibly frightening! Thank the heavens for support agencies.

Birdie said...

Yeah, the creepy effect of the photo is intentional. The campaign wanted people to take notice of the potential for danger in an unprotected sexual encounter. I'd say it's effective.

evilganome said...

I am not sure what is driving this new surge. Indifference, weariness? The most that we can hope is that education will continue and people will hear the message.

Jeaux said...

I think the photo from a French AIDS awareness campaign sponsored by a condom company. It is a creepy shot but oddly sexy, and in that tension lies its effectiveness. I think it's brilliant, and I believe it was one of a series.

Ur-spo is right, the one downside in advances in AIDS treatment has been a relaxing in respect for the seriousness of the disease.

Roxrocks said...

Scary stuff indeed.

the hobbit said...

I used to live in constant fear of HIV-infection. I was very sexually active. Even if I was "safer" with my intercourse, I knew that there was no such thing as "safe", so that fear never went away.

There are so many reasons that gay men don't protect themselves, but the primary reason (I think) is that we get the message from everywhere that we're not worth protecting, so we might as well have a little fun.

There's even a little bit of wish fulfillment in there. It's expected of us to become infected. So when the status comes back positive, the "truth" that we were told rings loud and clear.

Even if we know the bile that was spewed at us in childhood was nothing but hateful lies, the child still believes if he doesn't do some serious grown-up work, and so some of us secretly think that we deserve it.

Greg said...

Thanks, Birdie.