This HIV Survivor Quit Smoking to Vape. Don't Judge.
November 6, 2017
I get one funny look, as I stand there in a swirl of fragrant, smoky vapor, and that's all it takes. "I haven't had a cigarette in months," I proclaim. "This vape has no tar! No carcinogens! This is so much healthier than smoking!" I might come off a teensy bit defensive.
I know what the skeptics are thinking because I have looked askance at this faddish new delivery system for years. There's something way too of-the-moment about vaping. If I decided to stop eating gluten and get a man bun, I would reach the grand trifecta of everything contemporary I find annoying.
But the facts don't lie. Smoking is a clear and present danger to my health. Vaping, for all its fashion-forwardness, has proven to be a legitimate risk reduction technique. I'm even starting to enjoy the vast selection of flavors. Who wouldn't rather go to bed smelling like graham crackers than an ashtray? My non-smoking husband is thrilled.
Damon L. Jacobs, the renowned PrEP advocate (he runs the enormous PrEP Facebook page), has my back on this one. He's taken an interest in the heightened risk of smoking-related mortality in the LGBT community and drawn a straight line between the ability of HIV activists to incorporate new tools -- like PrEP and being HIV undetectable -- and how easily we could similarly adopt the risk reduction tool of vaping among those of us who smoke. And, by the way, twice as many LGBT people smoke as straight people. And more than 30,000 LGBT people die each year of smoking related deaths.
Damon now also serves as administrator for a Facebook page about "rethinking nicotine in the LGBT community" and if you're a smoker or vaper or some combination, check it out. He also sat down with me for a conversation on video when we crossed paths at an HIV conference last month.
So, I'm coming out. Again. I'm here, I'm queer, I'm poz, and I vape.
[Note from TheBody.com: This article was originally published by Mark S. King on Oct. 24, 2017. We have cross-posted it with his permission.]
Read Mark's blog, My Fabulous Disease.
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