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Pickett Fences: A Work in Progress

September/October 2001

A conversation with a man --

I really really like you . . . I think I like you a little more than like.

Let's take this slow.

The latest T-cell numbers are in and they're 385. Slowly but surely, down, down, down they've gone, a steady spiral in slow-mo. However, I stopped taking HIV drugs over a year ago. The viral load stays virtually the same in the 20-70,000 range so the immune system is still doing its job. Good boy! But for how much longer? I didn't always require an afternoon nap, did I? I know I used to have over 1,000 T-cells, back in the day. I have 385 now, and our friends at CDC say it's a good idea to start treatment when they're at 350. The train is coming to my stop. Do I get on? Do I let it pass me by, again? Can I pay the fare if I do get on? Can I avoid the stops at Buffalo Hump and Burning Feet, skip Liver Failure, Heart Attack, and Deadly Rash, glide past Gastrointestinal Discomfort and go express to Vivid Dreams -- Not the Scary but the Sexy, Trippy Kind?

More than one person --

Have you lost weight? You look great.


A conversation with an activist --

We all know oral sex accounts for next to nada in transmissions. It's fucking. What if we could encourage positive guys to only fuck positive guys? And for negative guys to only fuck negative guys? There are no immaculate infections. What if we promoted segregated fucking?

A conversation with our future --

I'm speaking to a group of junior and senior high school students who are all planning to work in the medical field. Questions. Why would you want to have sex if there's any risk involved? Would you stop having sex? What did your mom say? Do you know how long you may live? Answers. Let's see. I had risky sex knowing full well the risks I was taking because, uhhhhhhhh . . . I won't stop having sex. Does that make me selfish? Bad? She doesn't know. And, well, I tested positive in August of '95 so that's six years . . . and I could live maybe 10 or 20 more, maybe into my forties or fifties, I don't know.

News Flash!

Circuit parties are big multi-day affairs with lots of boys who come to boogie, bond, drink spring water, and have lots of sex, lots of it unsafe. Unsafe meaning unprotected anal intercourse, top or bottom, with a man of unknown or divergent serostatus. Oooh, and there's lots of drug use too.

Our sexy surgeon general, David Satcher, incites the Administration and other roving bands of misfit boys by daring to say safe sex must be taught as well as abstention. He also says it's okay to be a big ole fag or major dyke and that there is no evidence to indicate one can remove or replace one's big fagness or major dykehood. I want to marry this man. At the very least create a cyber fan page or stalk him online. I love you, David!

Fact: The drug companies spent more on advertising than on research and development in the year 2000. Over two times more.

Rumor: The drug companies are pulling out of HIV research and development altogether, or scaling back considerably, cuz they gotta give too much of the shit away now.

The truth hurts . . . rumors are sometimes true . . . is that the horn from my train approaching?

A conversation with an AOL fool --

An HIV-negative AOL fool. Or so he says.

But it's a risk I'm willing to take.

I'm not willing to be the one you take it with.

But I can't get off with condoms.

Well, then you can't get off with me.


So, hey kids, how's that vaccine research coming along? Where are we at with microbicides?

Question from the same group of teenaged aspiring doctors: Do you think there will be a cure?

No, I don't. I don't think there will be a cure. HIV is too good. We'll never figure it out. There is no profit incentive. I can't even pray for a cure, it's just setting yourself up for a letdown. Like falling in love, or being in that really really like, more than like fog. I like to pray for realistic things, things that I can envision being reality, like reality television, like "Fear Factor," like "The Real World: Chicago." When I play a buck on the lottery and don't win, I feel sad. So I stay away from the lottery. I feel sad thinking about a cure, because I just don't see it happening, just like I don't see my buck becoming ten million. Sorry . . . cynical here. I am more hopeful for vaccines and for better methods of protection like microbicides. Both would expand our safer sex choices beyond the shrill one-note of condoms, condoms, condoms. And I am more hopeful of expanding awareness, improving prevention, decreasing stigma, dismantling barriers to services and addressing health disparities. Super fancy terminology for lofty goals we have a long, long, long way to reach. But still doable. Still possible. Not too crazy.

A conversation with a man --

Let's promise to never use that word. You can think it, just don't say it.

Gotta run. Got a train to catch or not.

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To read more of Jim Pickett's columns, click here.

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This article was provided by Positively Aware. It is a part of the publication Positively Aware. Visit Positively Aware's website to find out more about the publication.
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