Is Gay Culture Normalizing HIV?

By Ockydub | Posted Nov 29 2016 | 15 Comments  

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I want to stress (as I state in this podcast) in no way am I attempting to be controversial or disrespectful for the sake of, while discussing this topic. I just wanted to add some thoughts that I personally don’t see or hear when it comes to conversations surrounding HIV / AIDs. Also, below are the CDC stats that I recite during the early portion of the podcast:

  • New AIDS diagnoses: In 2015, the South accounted for 52% (9,601) of the 18,303 new AIDS diagnoses in the United States, followed by the Northeast (18%, 3,328), the West (17%, 3,096), and the Midwest (12%, 2,278).
  • Gay and bisexual men accounted for 83% (29,418) of the estimated new HIV diagnoses among all males aged 13 and older and 67% of the total estimated new diagnoses in the United States.
  • Gay and bisexual men aged 13 to 24 accounted for an estimated 92% of new HIV diagnoses among all men in their age group and 27% of new diagnoses among all gay and bisexual men. 
  • Gay and bisexual men accounted for an estimated 54% (11,277) of people diagnosed with AIDS. Of those men, 39% were African American, 32% were white, and 24% were Hispanic/Latino
  • In 2014, 44% (19,540) of estimated new HIV diagnoses in the United States were among African Americans, who comprise 12% of the US population.
  • Among all African Americans diagnosed with HIV in 2014, an estimated 73% (14,305) were men and 26% (5,128) were women.
  • Among all African Americans diagnosed with HIV in 2014, an estimated 57% (11,201) were gay or bisexual men.c Of those gay and bisexual men, 39% (4,321) were young men aged 13 to 24.
  • To offer some perspective: From the website “The Advocate” The nation with the highest rate of HIV prevalence is Swaziland — a tiny, landlocked kingdom within South Africa — at about 27 percent prevalence. The second-highest rate is in nearby Botswana, with 25 percent. If America’s black gay and bisexual men comprised a nation unto themselves, that nation would soon have the world’s highest rate of infection — twice as high as its closest rivals.

hiv

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Much Appreciated,
Ocky Williams

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author
Ockydub

Octavius is a founder and editor of Cypher Avenue. He's here to help speak for us and show the world that masculine gay / bisexual men of color are not a part of the stereotypical gay normal that is seen and fed to the masses. No...we are a distinct breed, filled with character and pride. Cypher Avenue is here to show the world how we are different.

   
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15 Comments Feel Free To Join The Cypher.

  1. Rico
    Rico | November 29th, 2016
    0

    Stating reality is not being too controversial. We're both of the age when AIDS and HIV were death sentence diagnoses. The first person I personally knew with HIV, a college advisor, died about a month after his diagnosis. Looking back, he was probably DL, but I also know straight brothers and sisters who've died from it. Part of the "normalization" is generational. Whereas we remember the "you gonna DIE!" days, younger folk are told (even by medical and behavioral professionals I know, who should know better) that "nowadays, it's just being like a diabetic." To a degree, I guess that's true, but it still seems an irresponsible to categorize as such, especially when Type I is generally incurable and unavoidable, and even Type II can often be reversed if caught early (Drew Carey). HIV is STILL permanent. Yeah, the quality of life is nothing like the 1980s and 1990s, but you're STILL on a lifelong regimen of pills. And with Trump and Republicans rolling back Obamacare and Medicare, do you really want to put your life at the threshold of drugs you may or not be able to afford or obtain?

    On another note, I didn't realize you had a YouTube channel. Subscribed now.

  2. Marcus B Like
    Marcus B Like | November 29th, 2016
    0

    Greg Wilson

  3. hannibal
    hannibal | November 29th, 2016
    0

    I'm gonna enjoy watching this.

  4. LeMignon
    LeMignon | November 30th, 2016
    0

    I'm glad that you discussed PREP, Octavius. It literally prevents HIV and would make a big difference in transmission rates. However, the drug is fairly new and hasn't gone mainstream enough yet. I know people who are trying to make it available for free or cheap here in Louisiana.

    I don't necessarily agree with your critique of the HIV positive support community. While the message has overwhelming been "Get tested and know your status," that's not the whole story. I've never been to a clinic that doesn't offer condoms and/or continually have this "use a condom" message.

    One part of your video dealt with sex education and I think that is the bedrock of this issue and many others. In the HIV infected south, there is little to no sex education. The everyday conversation around sex typically doesn't involve condom use. I remember asking what a condom was in school and never getting a clear answer… There lies the cause of soaring HIV rates, teen pregnancy, and other STDs like gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, etc. Louisiana is nearing first place with all of those, straight population included.

    However, the HIV support community provides something not given in general– how to disclose your status, answers to sex-related questions (something not discussed a lot in general), answers to questions about STDS, how to have safe sex, how to enjoy safe sex, conversations about condom brands and lube brands… Literally most of that is missing from schools and families in adolescence when you need it the most. So usually only after you contract the disease do you get the knowledge you needed. I was blessed with mentors who informed me and even got me into volunteering in HIV prevention to help spread the knowledge… And I can tell you, most black folk don't know about PREP, or even who's at risk for what STD. Most people are uninformed. That circumstance only gets worse when you add black, gay, male, and DL to the list.

    So the HIV support community literally does become this open community that helps and informs the general public while also giving them what most have never had–sex education. You do inform the public. You do get involved in walks. You do meet people with amazing stories under a non-judging context. You do get to be a part of this supportive community. It does become cool and awesome be involved in that and I don't think the problem lies there. I think it lies in sex education.

  5. BlackguyExecutive
    BlackguyExecutive | November 30th, 2016
    0

    I don't think that it is a normalization of HIV. I think the medical advancements made with the disease have been tremendous and now it is purely about prevention.

    The most interesting thing about HIV is how it plays out in America versus the rest of the world. HIV his highly sexualized and therefore moralized in the US. Most other places in the world are trying to combat and prevent the disease. It is much less associated with identity in places like Africa.

  6. TreDaDon
    TreDaDon | November 30th, 2016
    0

    I do think there is a certain glamorization of HIV in a lot of the ads. There is also a lot of positivity. I think that beautiful/colorful/all-is-good message is likely directed at people who are recently diagnosed and probably damn near suicidal. I hope that no one else is looking at this as something that’s okay and doesn’t impact your life more than a constant cold. It is a life changing situation to have to deal with so hopefully people are engaging in the safest practices to avoid becoming positive.

    Even though drug addicts and heterosexuals can just as easily become infected (and there are other cases of people who have transmitted HIV through non-sexual contact like sharing shaving razors, chewing food for a baby before feeding it, etc.) there is a stigma to being a gay male catching the disorder through gay sex that just doesn’t happen in the rest of those situations. There are so many sexual things we may do that are just backwards and stupid. We use a condom to fuck, but give/receive head or eat ass & don’t use dental dams or saran wrap. Even kissing can be risky with someone who has mouth sores.

    This is the kind of shit that makes you want to curl up & be celibate or damn near forever. Even being in a long term relationship, you can never be sure that the other person is being completely faithful.

  7. elg | November 30th, 2016
    0

    Ocky, you asked “Is gay culture normalizing HIV? A different and perhaps better way to put it would be “is gay culture attempting to humanize HIV positive gay/bisexual men”? And when I say “humanize” HIV-positive gay men, I mean humanize HIV-positive gay men as much to themselves as to people (including other gay men) who are not HIV-positive.

    I’m not sure if you are aware of the mass hysteria surrounding HIV/AIDS in the 1980s: there were people (like the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, Sr., etc.) who wanted to quarantine HIV-positive gay men and he went around the country trying to make this happen. The late conservative icon, William Buckley Jr., wrote that any HIV-positive gay man should have his status branded on his buttocks so that anyone getting ready to have anal sex with him would see in bold lettering that he was HIV-positive. These were serious proposals in the 1980s that fortunately never happened.

    I remember a time when many gay men who had been diagnosed as HIV-positive would quit their jobs and apply for disability and wait to die. So yes I believe it is important to tell as well as show HIV-positive gay men, even now, that life can be lived to the fullest with a positive diagnosis. To do otherwise encourages HIV-positive gay men to give up and sink into despair. I remember a time when some gay men would commit suicide when diagnosed with HIV.

    Keep in mind that being HIV-positive is not just a physical condition. There is a “mental” aspect to being HIV-positive that needs to be addressed more. I’m not sure if the mental issues that are often attached to being HIV-positive are because of the diagnosis or because of the medications used to keep the condition under control or because of the social stigma (you become unacceptable as a partner to most HIV-negative gay men among other possible outcomes) or all three. But the mental aspect of being HIV-positive is a real thing maybe not for all HIV-positive gay men but certainly for many.

    Humanizing HIV-positive gay men to themselves helps them make better life decisions regarding all sorts of things like taking their medications the way they are supposed to. An HIV-positive gay man who thinks well of himself is more likely to share his status with family and friends and develop the sort of support system most people in this situation need to not just survive but thrive.

    I get that you are concerned that the focus seems to be more on helping HIV-positive gay men feel better about their status than about keeping HIV-negative gay men negative. But when a gay man is diagnosed as HIV positive he enters a pipeline where he not only enters treatment to make him “undetectable” but getting him into some type of therapy to deal with his possibly demoralized/depressed mental state is also a priority.

    I’m thinking that if HIV-negative gay men think they need “help” in trying to stay negative then they might want to start their own support groups for that very purpose. But do healthy people normally start support groups to stay healthy? I guess it can be done but is this likely to happen? Staying HIV-negative should be simple if you are a gay men: I mean all you have to do is not have sex or use a condom every single time you do have sex. Right? It seems to be simple but obviously it’s not that simple for many gay men. It certainly wasn’t that simple for those gay men who became positive.

    The HIV/AIDS “industrial complex” is set up to keep HIV-positive people physically and MENTALLY healthy. It’s not set up to keep HIV-negative gay men negative. For better or worse, that’s the way it is. But with a Donald Trump presidency (he wants to abolish Obamacare and many Republicans have long wanted to get rid of Medicare) the HIV/AIDS complex might end up being torn asunder and there will be a mass die-off of HIV-positive black gay men. This is not a good time to be an HIV-positive black gay man.

  8. ControlledXaos
    ControlledXaos | December 1st, 2016
    0

    Sex Education

    Sex Ed should be comprehensive. These holier than thou people who only want abstinence taught in school are part of the problem. Americans have an odd way of handling sex education and children. Keep things age appropriate it's fine. But by the time these parents have the talk, only one of them usually, it's too late. Sex ed should be a continuous process. Parents can explain the emotional part and the raw penis in vagina portion but let teachers explain stds, birth control, masturbation and same sex sex if they are too prudish. Hell let them opt their kids out of the same sex part if they want.

    I think people are too worried that they are going to encourage teens to have sex but I don't think that's true at all. They should be happy to have them be informed instead of getting info from their child's friend's older cousin visiting from out of town.

    Sexy HIV Ads

    They HIV ads are either Sexy or with the urban targeted ones, the dudes look suspect. I get sex sells but I do think that the message can get lost if they are only trying to bring awareness. Someone could look at it from the pov that "I'm Sexy and I have hiv and you should feel bad for rejecting me 'just' because I have HIV."

    This is a serious disease. And no amount of sugar coating people being HIV Positive into "POZ" or "undetectable" changes that. It's manageable. But it's also totally preventable. It's expensive and there's a mental cost associated as well because there's stigma attached to someone for the rest of their lives for any potential partner they must inform them of their status.

    "Not a sentance"

    I think that part of the reason why people run to this could be that maybe originally it was meant to encourage people who are recently finding out they are positive. However I think it's been turned into "oh, well if you acquire hiv, you'll live." and people look at HIV as something that will eventually happen to them anyway.

    Active Participant for Prevention

    So I have mentioned before I watch Divorce Court and you really can learn how to deal with people in a relationship by some of the advice Lynn Toler provides. One that's really stuck with me is on one episode she told a couple that you have to be an active participant to prevent a pregnancy. You can't go "maybe I won't get pregnant this time." and expect to walk away baby daddy/baby mama free. This is how black gay men need to think about hiv or any std for that matter.

    The numbers show that young black non heterosexual men have a higher rate of acquiring hiv. so knowing that why are there not more people in this group doing what they can to make sure it's not them? These sexy hiv ads show that you don't have to "look sick" so muscular six pack abs having dudes can have hiv like anyone else. You can not tell by looking.

    Coitus Alternatives

    Ok so I'm definitely a fan of non penetrative sex. I don't care how I get my orgasm and I'm glad I don't require an orifice to reach it. I like intimacy and built up. Penetration is good, don't get me wrong but I can jack while your junks in my face and I am a whole lot more efficient at mastering my domain than anyone else. But I admit that I can tell there's more….product… if I'm penetrating or getting felated versus manual manipulation.

  9. Lancer
    Lancer | December 2nd, 2016
    0

    I do feel there should be MORE and AGGRESSIVE safe sex/condom messages out there. With removing the stigma that comes with the diagnosis I do think a slight 'normalization' is happening. Not one geared towards 'Get HIV and you can survive on the drugs' but towards 'it is not a death sentence anymore'. Do I think gay people now treat HIV/AIDS like having Malaria or the common cold, yes. This I think is because some never saw/experienced the devastation the disease caused at its early stages with gay men dropping like flies, so now with the available drugs some gay men just want to acquire HIV and get it out of the way.

    I find it difficult to take my daily 'Optimum Nutrition High Intensity Multivitamins', that I have been taking trying to be ''Swole''(don't judge me…lol) sometimes I forget, some days I take them 3x a day, and other days I just forget or do not even bother. So i can not imagine being on daily HIV medications, when all I can do to avoid that is use a condom ALWAYS! I am a VERY neurotic person, that looses weight rapidly when I am stressed or have something on my mind, so I can not afford to put myself at the risk of getting HIV. The thought of that on my mind, trust me, less then a month my mind/thoughts would be the one to kill me.
    I love this Condom Campaign that I came across a while back, its German and anyone who knows some very risky, freaky shit you know Germans take theirs to some VERY EXTREME levels (Berghain club,Berlin)
    You can google translate the page and its NSFW photos. Scroll back to see previous condom only photos in the campaign.
    [​IMG]
    HIV/AIDS-Präventionskampagne der Schirner Zang Foundation

    Erect penises feature in new safe sex ads

  10. Dante
    Dante | December 2nd, 2016
    0
    ControlledXaos

    Sex Education

    Sex Ed should be comprehensive. These holier than thou people who only want abstinence taught in school are part of the problem. Americans have an odd way of handling sex education and children. Keep things age appropriate it's fine. But by the time these parents have the talk, only one of them usually, it's too late. Sex ed should be a continuous process. Parents can explain the emotional part and the raw penis in vagina portion but let teachers explain stds, birth control, masturbation and same sex sex if they are too prudish. Hell let them opt their kids out of the same sex part if they want.

    I think people are too worried that they are going to encourage teens to have sex but I don't think that's true at all. They should be happy to have them be informed instead of getting info from their child's friend's older cousin visiting from out of town.

    Sexy HIV Ads

    They HIV ads are either Sexy or with the urban targeted ones, the dudes look suspect. I get sex sells but I do think that the message can get lost if they are only trying to bring awareness. Someone could look at it from the pov that "I'm Sexy and I have hiv and you should feel bad for rejecting me 'just' because I have HIV."

    This is a serious disease. And no amount of sugar coating people being HIV Positive into "POZ" or "undetectable" changes that. It's manageable. But it's also totally preventable. It's expensive and there's a mental cost associated as well because there's stigma attached to someone for the rest of their lives for any potential partner they must inform them of their status.

    "Not a sentance"

    I think that part of the reason why people run to this could be that maybe originally it was meant to encourage people who are recently finding out they are positive. However I think it's been turned into "oh, well if you acquire hiv, you'll live." and people look at HIV as something that will eventually happen to them anyway.

    Active Participant for Prevention

    So I have mentioned before I watch Divorce Court and you really can learn how to deal with people in a relationship by some of the advice Lynn Toler provides. One that's really stuck with me is on one episode she told a couple that you have to be an active participant to prevent a pregnancy. You can't go "maybe I won't get pregnant this time." and expect to walk away baby daddy/baby mama free. This is how black gay men need to think about hiv or any std for that matter.

    The numbers show that young black non heterosexual men have a higher rate of acquiring hiv. so knowing that why are there not more people in this group doing what they can to make sure it's not them? These sexy hiv ads show that you don't have to "look sick" so muscular six pack abs having dudes can have hiv like anyone else. You can not tell by looking.

    Coitus Alternatives

    Ok so I'm definitely a fan of non penetrative sex. I don't care how I get my orgasm and I'm glad I don't require an orifice to reach it. I like intimacy and built up. Penetration is good, don't get me wrong but I can jack while your junks in my face and I am a whole lot more efficient at mastering my domain than anyone else. But I admit that I can tell there's more….product… if I'm penetrating or getting felated versus manual manipulation.

    This should get 1,000 daps.

    I am privileged to have went to elementary and middle school when we had a Health class or a Health Educator to explain sex, sexuality, and STIs, bc I would not have learned from home.

    The ongoing reality is that kids and teenagers are going to have sex. You can ignore it, but it will happen. That's like a news report saying it is going to rain and be like "It's not going to rain…I don't need an umbrella". It may not rain that day; however, you still need to have an umbrella, just in case.

  11. ControlledXaos
    ControlledXaos | December 2nd, 2016
    0

    Exactly! And is it that bad? Teenaged humans were having sex when life spans were not where they are now. Just because now we have set education plans and school to career paths doesn't change the curiosity when those menses start and nuts drop.

  12. Lancer
    Lancer | December 2nd, 2016
    0

    Also speaking of HIV in the black community, what is happening with all these good looking, well built, gay guys on snapchat/twitter/tumblr/and porn sites having unprotected sex!?!
    It's like a brag now, some even put their instagram or some kind of contact info with 'get at me'. I am not shaming or anything, my thing is if you want to show you bad or got skills there is nothing more sexy to me than you being bad with a condom involved.

  13. ControlledXaos
    ControlledXaos | December 2nd, 2016
    0

    Yeah I mean it's nothing to brag about to me. Single people should not have unprotected sex. Period. I think raw sex should be reserved for people in committed relationships.

    Though I don't think shaming people who use Truvada as a free HIV pass to have raw sex should be encouraged either. I understand the logic behind people using prep that way but it is not something I'd suggest people do. However if you are already out there like that be the best prepared that you can because those are the people who are good used cases for Truvada.

    People have barebacking even after HIV was well managed so I don't think there's anything that's going to stop people from doing it who really want to.

  14. Lancer
    Lancer | December 2nd, 2016
    0

    Interesting read…
    [​IMG]

    Where We Stand With HIV

  15. CoolBeansAndChili | January 22nd, 2017
    0

    Thanks for beginning the conversation on this topic. I was confused as to why certain points weren’t covered in more detail, but then I realized I’m supposed to participate. So, here it goes:

    First, I believe the attacks on those men for celebrating their HIV- status are rooted in the stigma HIV+ men face on dating apps when it comes to their status. I’ve read many anecdotes about how men who honestly reveal their status are shamed and ridiculed for without reason. I also think that’s the source of many HIV campaigns who promote attractive HIV+ men, to combat this perception that HIV+ men are irresponsible and dangerous. While HIV- men probably promote their status as a call to encourage testing, others may see it as a veiled attack on HIV+ men’s character.

    That character assassination has it’s roots in the early days the HIV epidemic in the 1980s. Gay and bisexual men were seen as getting their just reward for their homosexuality. This public thinking was pretty much an official position in the Reagan administration. Press Secretary Leakes gleefully mocked the epidemic to the press corps throughout the years. Reagan himself didn’t make any substantial comments on HIV/AIDS until 1987, after 20,000 had already died since the outbreak began in 1981. While the battle for equal marriage rights broke out in response to spouses not being granted visitation rights or legal claims to insurance or inheritance, that reason lost a bit of it’s punch throughout the years. Marriage equality expanded to rights to raise children and claims to property after death from old age. Few straight supporters remember or acknowledge the urgency of spouses of HIV+ men in the 1980s and 90s to receive rights to care for their loved ones.

    While the black community may be more tolerant of black gay men in superficial terms, like in a wedding ceremony or Kiki-ing with the girls, they’re far from being comfortable with gay sex. This is why commercials dealing with HIV testing of gay/bisexual men or Truvada won’t make it on Love and Hip-Hop or anything Tyler Perry related. We’re a reliable and lucrative demographic for reality shows and what not (To quote a hilarious 30 Rock line: “Drama is Gay Men’s Gatorade. It replenishes their electrolytes.”). But, I don’t think networks and showrunners are ready to engage in a more meaningful way, if they want to at all.

    Now, Truvada itself is going through it within the LGBT community at large. There are several HIV activists and organizations, like the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, who believe that the rise of Truvada is detrimental to all the progress that’s been made. Their argument is that Truvada will open the floodgates to riskier sex and a rise in STI rates. Their failure, in my opinion, is that they don’t encourage Truvada’s use along with condoms, along with every other method of safer sex. Many of these activists became prominent during the 80s and 90s, and are obviously failing to update their messaging to target younger men, who don’t have a clear understanding of the devastation HIV can cause, and the unnecessary dangers of any STI.




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