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The Buzz Factor: Most Talked-About Stories on TheBody.com in 2010

December 1, 2010

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As an action-packed year for the HIV/AIDS community draws to a close, TheBody.com takes stock of 2010 in a new series of articles, "HIV/AIDS Year in Review: Looking Back on 2010 (and Ahead to 2011)." Read the entire series here.

Every year, TheBody.com publishes thousands of articles -- but a handful always stand out as the most popular, exciting or controversial. In this look back at 2010, we considered which articles got the most page views and comments, as well as which were shared the most or got the biggest responses on Facebook and Twitter.

The 10 articles that generated the biggest buzz span a huge range of topics: bareback sex and other HIV risks, HIV-related health problems, the persistent minority that questions if HIV is even real, and just about every subject in between. Together, they highlight the diversity of our readers' interests -- and are a testament to how engaged and thoughtful so many of you are in your comments.


#1: Subconscious Death-Wish of a Gifted, Young Black Man

By Terron J. Cook; Aug. 9

In August, Terron introduced himself to TheBody.com's readers with an extremely honest look at who he is. Terron has put himself at risk for HIV over and over by repeatedly having anonymous, unprotected sex. He wrote:

Wearing condoms always has been extremely tough for me. First, I ask myself, "Why the f*** would I use a condom when I'm the top man?" But knowing that the majority of men who contract HIV play the bottom role is absolutely no excuse for my behavior. Second, I can't maintain an erection in a condom, or at least, that's what I've convinced myself of. I use this as an excuse to not use them.

When I partake in a sexual escapade with another man, I need it to be fulfilling in all aspects, and utilizing a condom simply does not afford me that pleasure. ... There is something about barebacking that allows me to feel close to the man directly in front of me.

The response via comments (68 of them at last count) was overwhelming. Some people appreciated Terron's honesty, while others angrily called out his choices and opinions. But they all had one thing in common: Every comment was passionate about the issue.


#2: Raw Emotion: Thoughts on Why Gay Men Bareback

By fogcityjohn; April 27

In April, blogger fogcityjohn wrote this piece on why so many gay men still have unprotected sex despite the realities of the HIV/AIDS pandemic -- and the horrid toll it took on gay men in the 1980s and 1990s. He presented a handful of reasons, but for fogcityjohn, what it really comes down to is this:

If you ask me, barebacking is an attempt to escape from the awful sense of isolation that we all experience as human beings. That isolation is perhaps an inevitable consequence of our separate existence as individuals. But it's particularly acute for us gay men, who have grown up in a society hostile to our identity. Having spent so much of our lives on the outside, alienated from members of the majority (straight) culture, we gay men have an intense need to feel truly connected to others like ourselves.

To me, the urge that I think motivates barebacking is perfectly understandable. ... Barebacking can be seen as the ultimate attempt to remove all barriers between ourselves and our partners, to literally become one. It's an effort to escape the loneliness that haunts our separate existences, and to be freed, if only momentarily, from the solitary confinement of our individuality.

The resulting discussion spanned more than 100 comments and touched on homophobia, gay men and monogamy, commenters' own reasons for barebacking, and plenty of spirited discussion of fogcityjohn's point of view.


#3: The Cult of HIV Denialism

By Jeanne Bergman, Ph.D.; Spring 2010

There is a small, but vocal, group of people out there who don't believe that HIV causes AIDS. They call themselves "AIDS dissidents," but most other people call them "denialists." In this article from Achieve, Jeanne Bergman, Ph.D., wrote:

The persistence of the HIV denialism can be understood if we view the movement as a kind of cult. Denialists refer to HIV medicine and science as "the orthodoxy," giving the field a religious framework, and imagine themselves in an oppositional, visionary role. Many of the features that social scientists find typical of cults characterize the denialists. Most fundamentally, they maintain an intense "us-versus-them" worldview. Those inside belong to an exalted and secretive group -- they feel superior but persecuted for knowing a hidden truth.

This discussion (with 50 comments at last count) got so heated that it was one of the only times that TheBody.com's editorial staff got directly involved -- in fact, this article led us to articulate exactly what our official commenting policy is. But as controversial as some of the comments were, they also provided interesting insight into the denialist point of view -- as well as an important reminder that even the concept of denialism, like so many other issues in life, may not quite be as black-and-white as some of us would like to believe.

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See Also
HIV/AIDS Year in Review: Looking Back on 2010 (and Ahead to 2011)
More HIV News

 

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