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Three Scary Beliefs That Defy Fact, Reality and Common Sense

(1) Obama Is a Muslim. (2) Palin Should Be President. (3) Americans Believe Criminalization of HIV Nondisclosure Prevents HIV Infection.

By Bob Frascino, M.D.

November 29, 2010

Did you ever notice that some survey statistics just seem outrageously stupid, such as "24% of Americans believe Obama is a Muslim"? Other surveys' statistics seem downright scary, such as "47% of Republicans think Sarah Palin is qualified to be president." I recently came across another survey statistic I found equally as shocking -- and concerning! An overwhelming majority of HIV-negative and untested men in the United States (70% and 69% respectively) support criminalization of HIV nondisclosure! WOWZA! Obviously these folks have not read my last few blogs ("A Telling Tale of Trick or Treat: Remember to Spit, Don't Swallow," October 20, 2010; and "It's a Virus, Not a Crime!" October 31, 2010).

To those of you who did read them and especially to those who posted comments, many thanks. I particularly wanted to acknowledge Sean Strub (founder of Poz magazine) and his incredible work with the Center for HIV Law and Policy's Positive Justice Project. Please follow the link for more information on this vital endeavor. Sean, thanks for your tireless work on behalf of us all. The positively charged community never adequately thanks its heroes. You, my friend, definitely qualify. Consequently, I'll take this opportunity on behalf of the entire virally enhanced community to extend our heartfelt appreciation.

To Steven of Fort Lauderdale, regarding your comment "it truly is amazing how much fear can tip the scales of lunacy!" I couldn't agree more. Just look at some of the Looney Tunes fluffernutters who just got elected (or nearly elected) to Congress!

To James Masten of New York, your statement: "as a clinician in the field for twenty years, I concur that continued stigmatization of people living with HIV undermines prevention efforts" captures one of the strongest reasons criminalization of HIV nondisclosure is so detrimental and counterproductive to HIV-prevention efforts.

To Realize of Los Angeles, sorry your "ex" transformed from affectionate, sultry seductress (did she really ask you how does someone get you into bed?) into a slanderous, sinister wicked bitch of the west! Your story certainly dramatically proves the point that HIV disclosure can be fraught with risks -- and that you should think before dating anyone with a history of multiple personalities.

While I'm responding to comments from my recent blog, I should advise Felix of the Big Apple that "safe only" is not code for "I'm HIV positive." Rather, "safe only" means "whether you are positive or negative I only play safe and I'm not interested in you if you choose to do otherwise." The code for "I'm HIV positive" is "I'm HIV positive."

I know, I know, it's not such a difficult code to crack, but after all Felix, some of the folks on Craigslist are bi-curious, confused, married, closeted, guilt-ridden dudes who voted for Bush -- twice. Needless to say, the "code" needs to be highly transparent and completely obvious for such an uninformed and clueless group. If you disclose your HIV status in your online profile or before your NSA [no-strings-attached] horned-up Mr. Hunky-Spunky shows up on your front stoop, you don't have to worry about the proper timing of your revelation. However, if that's not your preference, it's best to advise your stud of your virally enhanced status well before you begin the dance with no pants. Check out The Body's forum on safer sex and prevention. We have a chapter in the archives devoted to HIV-disclosure issues.

To Elizabeth, I agree "... secrets gnaw at the soul." Good luck with your new blog and your "Christian fundamentalist in-laws"! I think you'll need more luck with the latter than the former. (Have you considered wearing to Thanksgiving dinner one of those tee-shirts that says, "So many right-wing Christian fundamentalist zealots; so few lions"?)

Finally, to Dave, Marco and Leigh of VA, Mexico City and Montreal respectively, you're welcome and I adore you too! Let's all be BFFs, OK?

OK, back to today's topic and the disturbing survey results. This study was published in last month's issue of AIDS Care (Horvath, KJ et al. AIDS Care 22:1221-1228, 2010). It was also alarming to note that two-thirds of gay men in the U.S. believe it should be illegal for an HIVer to have unprotected anal sex without disclosure. Support for HIV nondisclosure criminalization correlated with:

  • HIV-negative or unknown HIV status
  • Less education
  • Heterosexuality
  • Living in a state perceived as hostile toward LGBT issues
  • Fewer episodes of unprotected anal sex
  • Voting for Bristol Palin on "Dancing with the Stars"

OK, I made that last one up, but the rest are absolutely true.

The statistic in the study I found most surprising and disturbing is that 38% of HIV-positive men endorsed criminalization for HIV nondisclosure. What's up with that???

There can be no doubt these results are nearly as disturbing and ill-reasoned as the results of the recent congressional elections! Nondisclosure criminalization laws place strong reliance on HIV-status disclosure as an HIV-prevention method. This has been shown to lack scientific basis, credibility and common sense (just like many Tea Party candidates).

I've now spent three consecutive blogs on this topic. Yes, I do think it's that important. We must inform many and reeducate others of the fact that HIV nondisclosure criminalization is counterproductive to HIV-prevention efforts. It's going to be one of those time-consuming and always-challenging "need to change hearts and minds" campaigns. We all have our work cut out for us. So let's get those conversations started and the draconian counterproductive laws repealed before a gaggle of Mama Grizzlies tries to enshrine this lunacy in the Bill of Rights. Yeah, I know, that's not where criminalization laws would be "enshrined," but many of the new GOP Congress people haven't a clue about so many aspects of the Constitution, Bill of Rights or government in general. Who knows what they might try to do!?! We must not let them "refudiate" common sense and scientific facts.

Finally, loyal readers, I promise to return to sex for my next blog topic. So stay tuned you horn-dogs (and bi-curious, confused, married, closeted Craigslisters).

Dr. Bob

Want to get in touch with Dr. Bob? You can reach him through his "Ask the Experts" forum, by sending a message to the Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation, or by leaving a comment for him below. (If it's a private message, or if it includes personal info such as your e-mail address or phone number, we won't post the comment, but we will send it along to him.)

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See Also's Just Diagnosed Resource Center
Telling Others You're HIV Positive
More on U.S. Laws/News Regarding HIV Disclosure


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Life, Love, Sex, HIV and Other Unscheduled Events

Bob Frascino, M.D., was President and Founder of The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation. He had been an outspoken, popular expert in's "Ask the Experts" forums on safe sex and fatigue/anemia since 2000. Once a Fellow of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Frascino served as Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Division of Immunology, Rheumatology, and Allergy, at Stanford University Medical Center from 1983 until 2001. He was a member of the American Academy of HIV Medicine and had also been a distinguished member of the executive boards of numerous state and regional associations.

We're inexpressibly saddened to share the news that Dr. Frascino passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011. Click here to read more and to share your thoughts.

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