Recently, communities of color have ignited a movement that has taken the world by storm in the wake of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases. The problem being highlighted is one that goes back to the very foundations of our country: racial inequality. As I have been at various protests and demonstrations, including many in St. Louis and Ferguson, I have tried to figure out what this means for the HIV/AIDS movement, considering that communities of color are disproportionately bearing the burden of new infections. The irony of the situation is not lost on me; even as much as I want to help address inequalities within the communities of color, I must do so while considering my place in the movement.
One day the shame train arrived at the gates and out rolled another set of beats. In this particular crowd was a brick shit-house named Leo. He was six -five, layered in tats, and Cuban -- in other words fucking gorgeous. Vics arrived in their orange prison garb, some came in chains, and it was my job to take them downstairs to the lockers and get them "new-used" clothes.
In my last blog, I spoke of the "gay family" I established in NYC back in the early '80s and how I had lost all but one to AIDS. Sadly, I lost my last remaining HIV-positive friend from those days when he died in a car crash this past May. His name was Mark Weins, aka Marcus, and we had been best of friends for the past 35 years speaking almost daily. He and I had outlived our close-knit group of gay friends that we considered family and would constantly wonder why we were the ones left alive.
My favorite song for this year is by Taylor Swift "Shake if Off." I love the music but I especially find the lyrics fitting. She sings about finding your own beat, doing your own thing, dancing to your own music and shaking it all off! Letting the players play and the haters hate! My future daughter-in-law and I went to the West Hollywood Halloween Carnival this year and she was both startled and upset by the small group of assembled protesters. She stopped to listen as they spewed their hatred and read their hideous poster board signs all as a slight drizzle started to rain down upon us. She wondered why I was not intrigued. I explained that I have been at plenty of events where they had gathered and they were old news. I learned to ignore them as most of the crowd was doing. Why give them the time of day. They were always present at the AIDS WALK as well. Their words were nothing I hadn't heard before; their methods were nothing new.
Oh my goodness, I can't believe I haven't written anything since July of this year! Where has my head been at?
Activists and advocates should always be on the ball! Out there on the front lines, moving the cause forward and ever "in your face."
On World AIDS Day, it is gratifying to see increased attention paid to stigma, which has a devastating impact on prevention, testing and treatment. Creative and thoughtful campaigns utilizing social media and other venues are beginning to make a difference. Some anti-stigma programs are even being mandated as part of international aid. While many programs don't yet effectively address institutional, governmental and religious power structures that perpetuate stigma, they are impacting education and skills to build empathy, each of which is extremely important.
Patrick Ingram revisits the room in the health department where he was diagnosed three years ago, and reflects on now delivering HIV positive diagnoses to others.
There are a lot of considerations that go into a decision to start medications for HIV. It is true that the earlier that a person starts medications, the better the long-term outcomes. I am a realist, however, and I understand that not everyone is ready, willing or able to start medications as soon as they are diagnosed. Inevitably, I come into contact everyday with newly diagnosed individuals who are considering this very question. Here are five points that I would like people to consider when talking about HIV medications.
I wonder where you're reading this. On your tablet on your way to work? Sitting with a glass of wine in the warmth of your home? In a café on the corner? Wherever it is, I would imagine most of you will be glancing at it in a position of comfort, with all mod cons around you, warm and well-fed, just as I am while writing it.
So "M" Day finally came; before we knew it a huge moving truck was in our driveway. Myles spent that night at Grandma's, so he would not be bored out of his mind or in the way all day. Movers poured into our condo and quickly they were helping us pack last items, electronics, and artwork. Nash our dog was locked in the garage after it was loaded into the truck. Marley our cat was locked into a bathroom for the rest of the day with a heaping pile of catnip.
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