National HIV Testing Day; Who Cares?

By Ockydub | Posted Jun 26 2014 | 14 Comments  

HIV TESTING

June 27th is National HIV Testing Day. Do we care or should I say, does it really matter? Of course it does!

Cypher Avenue has talked about HIV/AIDS awareness, STD prevention and highlighted real life stories from real people numerous times since our incarnation. I tried to even use a different approach than the standard “wear condoms” mantra that we have heard for decades. I went the angle of the financial impact HIV can have upon individuals. Yet HIV infections among men of color continue to climb to disproportionate levels. Of course I’m not saying that because Cypher Avenue was on a soap box and talked about HIV/AIDS, therefore HIV transmissions amongst men of color should come to a grinding halt AND I’m not about to rattle off a bunch of statistics and provide hyperlinks as I’ve done in the past (If you’re reading this then you have access to the internet, look it up) but come on.

Have we really stopped to think and over analyze what the hell is going on within the GBT communities of color (yes I left out the L (lesbian) in the acronym for a reason. Look it up)? Why do GBT communities of color continue to have the highest levels of infections rates? I have a couple of theories as to why. Keep in mind theories are not absolutes.

But Straight People Do It Too
Please, please stop saying this. To me this is the mindset of those who want to side step the issue and conversation. If you can’t add to the discussion, tap out.

We Are F**ked Up
Yes, all of us are messed up in the head in some ways, shapes or forms. We all have issues; however in this instance I’m referring to GBT folk of color. Having levels of psychological damage and self-love/esteem deficiencies can lead to self-destructive behaviors. Self honestly through self-analysis is a step to taking better care of one’s self.

We Don’t Know How To Commit And Be Monogamous
Yes I know married hetero and homo people cheat and infect their partners but part of this is because we don’t know how to or choose not to commit and be monogamous. Committed relationship means you make a decision to be honest, trustworthy and faithful as to never…repeat NEVER step outside of your relationship under no circumstances. If you can’t follow this basic simple rule, stay single.

Unprotected Sex Is Natural And Feels Great
Why are we so afraid to admit this within the PC gay community? Once we say this out loud maybe we can come up with some alternatives or additions to the standard “wear condoms” repetition. Maybe we can add more substance to the conversation of homosexual sex. For example why don’t we have “Bottom Condoms” similar to the female condoms? Why aren’t condoms more environmentally friendly? What about having over the counter grade PrEP available for free or at very low cost to the point where its handed out with condoms or available alongside condom dispensers? Some of these ideas may work, none of them may work but can we come up with more?

Some HIV/AIDS Activists Are A Part Of The Problem
Yes…I said it. All (I use “all” loosely) we hear from those infected with HIV and HIV/AIDS activists is how HIV/AIDS is not a death sentence and you can live a happy normal life. This is true and factional but what I think needs to also be stressed is that in the process of living your normal and healthy life, the expensive financial costs for proper medications and treatment. Another thing is that once you begin to take your treatment, you may have severe side effects from the medications. Struggling to afford medications and possibly having side effects from the treatments is serious and many have troubles in regards to this aspect. I do wish these characteristics were talked about more. Regardless of the ailments, less money in our pockets or accounts equals less money in LGBT communities of color, less money in communities of color as a whole, less money for education, mental health, investments, business, quality of life, etc. It’s a terrible interconnected cycle.

Let us reminisce about the old times for a minute. Back on December 19, 1983, physicians and health departments in the United States have reported a total of 3,000 patients who meet the surveillance definition for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS); Yes 3000. Of the 3,000 patients, 90% were been between 20 and 49 years old. 59% of the cases occurred among whites, 26% among blacks, and 14% among persons of Hispanic origin. Women accounted for 7% of the cases. This was the “good-ol-days” days of the coming epidemic. Even though I wouldn’t dare to wish infection on anyone, I would hope that one day the national levels could be this low or non-existent again.

For a testing facility near you, visit The National HIV/AIDS Testing Resource. Get educated, get tested and take control.

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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14 Comments Feel Free To Join The Cypher.

  1. TG Virgo | June 26th, 2014
    0

    I agree with all you said Ocky. I also think that porn and the media is to blame, although ultimately we’re responsible for our own safety. In porn and surprisingly in TV/film, everyone jumps straight from undressing to gettin’ it in. You don’t see anyone grab a condom, ask permission to hit it raw, nor mention statuses, which breaks down the association of protection and sex. Unfortunately, media is most people’s model for sex and the industries are very comfortable with having the actors engage in unprotected “risky” sex. In regards to porn, although the studios put up a disclaimer before unprotected sex (who reads that), it doesn’t matter because the imagery of the sex acts are of people doing it raw, which is being embedded into the viewers’ minds as the norm and what’s the acceptable way to have sex. One thing to note, is that the major porn studios make the actors get tested reguarly and provide documentation before shoots. So if average people like us are going to engage in risky sex then they better get current documentation first, but people seldom ask. The reality is HIV infections are still on the rise. Ain’t no D/@$$ worth compromising your life.

    **Side Thought** Does anyone else think it’s crazy that someone will suck D raw, but then f— w/ a condom to prevent STIs? I don’t get it…do people not get that head is just as dangerous?!! Better get some flavored condoms or something ESPECIALLY if you’re just hooking up!

    • TG Virgo | June 26th, 2014
      0

      Also I hate how it’s made to seem like the actors are about to do it raw, but the next angle there’s a condom on. Why make it appear raw? They show them lubing up! Why not show the putting on a condom? (Porn’s fantasy hurts reality.)

  2. Isaac Colver | June 26th, 2014
    0

    Simple solution; encourage celibacy. At this state, there is no other option. At 16, I made a choice to live a celibate life…and have been that way since (3 years ago). There is practically no other solution to this problem, people need to find alternatives to sex.

    • Rod Turpin
      Rod! | June 27th, 2014
      +1

      No sex is the safest sex, very true. But consistently using condoms (correctly) is also an incredibly effective way to protect oneself. Studies have consistently shown this, even in long term relationships where one partner is positive and the other is negative. And for the rare occasion where one breaks, there’s always post-exposure prophylaxis. So while no sex definitely means no sexual transmission of HIV, there are solutions that a sexually active person can utilize as well.

      • Isaac Colver | June 27th, 2014
        0

        Condoms can break.

        • ControlledXaos | June 27th, 2014
          0

          That’s true. They can. Nothing is 100% safe except celibacy. However, let’s be honest, that’s not going to work for most people.

        • Rod Turpin
          Rod! | June 27th, 2014
          +1

          “And for the rare occasion where one breaks, there’s always post-exposure prophylaxis.”

          To add to my earlier statement, condoms breaking due to anything other than being used incorrectly is so incredibly, incredibly rare. HIV transmission due to a condom breaking is virtually non-existent in peer-reviewed studies, its the absence or partial use of condoms that leads to infection.

  3. tcejbus | June 27th, 2014
    0

    I really agree with this:

    “Yes…I said it. All (I use “all” loosely) we hear from those infected with HIV and HIV/AIDS activists is how HIV/AIDS is not a death sentence and you can live a happy normal life.”

    I’m 25, and I know when I started reading about STI’s, there were people constantly saying, “it’s not that bad, you can just take a pill” or “it’s no longer a death sentence”, which of course had me thinking it wasn’t that big of a deal. Wrong.

    I don’t really know how you balance trying to reduce the stigma for people with HIV and at the same time instill negative feelings about engaging in behavior that would increase one’s chances of getting HIV. Million dollar question, really.

    Off-topic: The logout screen for CyperAvenue is freesssshhhh.

  4. Rod Turpin
    Rod! | June 27th, 2014
    0

    Really good article. The awareness of people being able to live a healthy, happy life with HIV is a bit of a double-edged sword. On one hand, as you pointed out, many individuals don’t take it nearly as seriously as they should. They see no need to protect themselves because they view HIV as more of an inconvenience than a major health issue. These people are also likely to not get tested, and while living with HIV is one thing, AIDS is a completely different bag of worms with completely different outcomes.

    On the other side of the coin, you do want (and ethically, need) to inform people about the reality of their diagnosis. Yes, you can live a healthy, happy life with HIV, and that’s why if you are positive you should adhere to your treatment and follow up regularly with your physician. But be aware of factors like side effects of treatment, as well as the financial strain. In many areas of the country, more than half of HIV patients have no health services, so it is a very real issue. Also, being positive can substantially impact dating and romantic/sexual relationships, which is something else that has to be considered.

    All in all, you just have to be fully informed about the short and long term ramifications of your sexual risk behavior. So learn as much as you can, and get tested!

  5. ControlledXaos | June 27th, 2014
    0

    People do not fear HIV/AIDS the way they did back in the 80s.

    We no longer see the images of frail, thin, emaciated, sunken jawed, scarred people anymore who used to be the ‘face of AIDS.’ Drugs are more affordable and people know what to do to keep themselves healthy. Because ‘you can live a full life’ with HIV, people don’t consider it that bad. It doesn’t hurt with scabs and blisters like other diseases, it does it’s thing slowly, if you let it. So, there’s no worries.

    If you think about it, HIV is better than Cancer. You can get a cancer diagnosis today and be gone before next spring.

    Now, there’s this drug, TruVada that the ‘rich white gays’ are on. Basically, you take it forever and it prevents you from contracting HIV but it has a lot of side effects. Many who take it feel it’s worth the risk because they don’t have to worry about ‘slip ups’ if the do have sex without a condom and some use it as a way to be raw all the time.

    So you either take a drug forever to not get infected, or take a cocktail forever to stay healthy if you do get infected. Some people feel like either way, you end up taking something so for them, they don’t mind the bareback way of life.

    I like sex but not to the point where I’m hassled with a Rx. I can self satisfy with no drama or disease risk.

  6. RobFather X
    RobFather-X | June 27th, 2014
    +1

    Good article Octavius Williams writes here. I wrote my second annual message here: http://robfatherxkeepinitreal.com/2014/06/26/national-hiv-testing-day-2014/
    Too bad both messages are being ignored – or will be ignored by so many people – particularly by those who are already infected with HIV who should be helping to PROMOTE this day/event AND by others who have never been tested for HIV, by those who are AFRAID to be tested or worse, by those who HAVE NO PLANS to ever get tested!
    It’s very sad that each year, more and more people care LESS about things/events like this as more and more people get infected with such a terrible disease or some other STD.

  7. SwagJack
    SwagJack | June 28th, 2014
    +1

    I’m in DC, where the HIV/AIDS numbers are probably the scariest in the country. My body count ain’t all that high, but I’ve definitely had more than my share of trips to the cookie jar. Unless I’m in a monogamous, committed relationship with someone (and to do that I really gotta trust someone), then I have always suited up. No exceptions.

    For the past 4 months, I’ve been celibate. At this point, I’m looking for more of an emotional/ spiritual connection. For me, sex is the icing on the cake of that situation. Other than that, I’m good.

    I know a few people that have HIV and they are very healthy. They maintain medicinal regimens and have made lifestyle changes accordingly. But while they do live healthy lives, I’m sure they’d give anything to be without this burden of a disease. A lot of the medications and ad campaigns that have been introduced to the public over the past few decades have made us believe that HIV isn’t as big a deal. The stigma is all but gone. And yeah, the porn industry isn’t exactly helping from a psychological standpoint. But folks have to make more conscious decisions about how we live our lives in general. All the decisions we make today will affect our tomorrow in some way, shape, or form. All this laugh now cry later shit is for the birds.

    • SwagJack
      SwagJack | June 28th, 2014
      0

      I saw on the news where an initiative is being proposed that would expand the number of free HIV drop-in testing sites in the city. I know that funding for HIV outreach in the NYC area took a hit recently. I guess the balance between awareness (government/ organizational initiatives) and personal responsibility is a bit off.

  8. ControlledXaos | June 27th, 2015
    0

    Bump.

    People should get tested. Better to know and take action sooner rather than later and remember… HIV isn’t the only thing to worry about.




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