September 22, 2011
Next Tuesday, Sept. 27th, marks the fourth annual observance of National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, an event organized and launched by the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA). Many HIV/AIDS organizations from across the country will commemorate this day with programs, social media campaigns and numerous events in hopes of educating gay men about HIV risks, as well as addressing HIV stigma and homophobia.
In a recent Washington Blade article, NAPWA president and CEO Frank Oldham Jr., a gay man himself who has been living with HIV for more than 20 years, shared his thoughts on society's inability to celebrate gay sex and the beauty of gay culture:
"Gay male culture, by the parties we have, the circuit parties, the bathhouses - all of that is part of a beautiful, gay male culture. And it is something that has to be embraced and especially embraced if you're going to deal with the AIDS epidemic," Oldham says. ...
... "Just because there is a virus, which is chemical, which is scientific, doesn't mean that the culture is bad," he says. "You tell people that if you happen to be monogamous, that's fine. If you happen to have 10 partners a week, fine. But you have to be safe. You have to use condoms."
If you are HIV positive, Oldham says, "you have to take medication and be adherent so that you have a zero viral load and are less likely to infect someone because you love your culture. So this is all a positive thing. I love my culture so I will take care of it. I don't want to infect anybody. I want people to be safe and healthy and beautiful."
In addition, National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day will also place focus on the need for the media to increase reporting about the major issues that make MSM so vulnerable to contracting HIV.
A full list of events is available on NAPWA's website.
Warren Tong is the research editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
Follow Warren on Twitter: @WarrenAtTheBody.
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