One of the best parts of my job is covering HIV cure stories. They offer hope and they serve as amazing examples of human tenacity and the wonders of modern medicine. First there was the case of Timothy Brown, the so-called "Berlin Patient," who underwent a stem cell transplant using donor cells that were resistant to HIV. After almost three decades of the epidemic, his case proved that HIV could be cured.
It may not look like it, given how huge this website is, but TheBody.com is run by a small, close-knit team: just five, full-time employees, plus a handful of part-time folks. We thought it might be cool to give you a glimpse of what it is we all actually do here, and what we've been working on lately to make our home on the Web a larger, more complete, more welcoming place for you to come and visit.
This past Wednesday, April 24, the New York Daily News published an article entitled "Young Black Gay Men Who Hide Sexuality May Be Behind Brooklyn's HIV Epidemic, Doctors Say." The article, from the headline on in, is stigmatizing, racist, heterosexist, shortsighted and misinformed. It does what all the best journalism does: It packs quite the punch in a few short paragraphs. Unfortunately, it reserves its worst jabs and most powerful punches for young black gay men -- a population already at the intersection of many oppressed identities -- and does nothing to further healthy, productive conversation on the fight against HIV/AIDS, ending homophobia or respecting the lives and bodies of Brooklyn residents.
Let me begin by saying that I am a huge condom advocate. I have a box of condoms in my own bedside dresser, and carry around a few with me in my bag at any time. No, not only for myself. I give them out to friends, acquaintances, anyone who asks me for one. The use of condoms has increased significantly since the genesis of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s to the point where they are ubiquitous in all supermarkets and discount department stores. One day, I hope to see them moved out of stores, divorced from the marketplace, and made available, free-of-charge, everywhere. They should be subsidized by a government that cares about the preventative health of its citizens.
I am not a black woman living with HIV, so I have no way of knowing what it was like to be Cicely Bolden, the 28-year-old woman who was stabbed to death by her sexual partner, Larry Dunn Jr., after she disclosed her HIV status to him in early September. Like me, many others have no way of understanding Cicely's life, yet they have seen themselves fit to pass judgment on her. Because I have very little intersection with Cicely's lived experience, all I have to rely on to relate to her is my imagination. I ask that each of you, regardless of status, join me in my exercise of imagination as you read this piece.
So, I won't lie: Waking up this Sunday morning wasn't easy. My intention to wake up at 6:30 a.m. in order to go running in the hotel fitness center turned into me waking up at 8 a.m. with Becky Allen, our site manager, laughing at me as she left to get breakfast.
I have a secret to share with you all. Despite the fact that I have been writing about the HIV epidemic since 2006, this is the first International AIDS Conference that I have ever attended. Shocking, I know.
Another day, another attack on women.
In the wee hours of the morning on May 25, Deon Haywood received a horrible phone call from her building's landlord. The office of the organization that she runs, Women With A Vision (WWAV), had been burned down.
Earlier this week, Buffalo Bills wide receiver David Clowney tweeted a picture of his negative HIV test results with the text "Got My HIV Results Back!! Thank God for keeping my body healthy and safe."
It isn't rare for politicians to put their feet in their mouths when they talk about HIV/AIDS. This past January, Tennessee state Sen. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) told a radio show "homosexuality is harmful," the HIV epidemic came from a single gay airline employee having "sexual relations" with a monkey, and that heterosexual men and women really cannot contract HIV.