. . who will be featured regularly on PositiveLite. We will be showcasing some of his newer posts, like today’s, and also some gems – and there are a lot of them - from his back catalogue.
Read Mark’s bio here.
If you like what you see here, and we have a feeling you will, please head right on over to My Fabulous Disease and enter a world quite like no other. Believe me, you’re in for a treat.
Mark is often funny and irreverent, a trait he shares with PositiveLite.com, but he also has a serious side, which you’ll see today in this often controversial but impassioned piece called Five Things About HIV (They Are not Telling You)
Welcome, Mark, to PositiveLite.com from the entire crew.
Five Things About HIV (They Are not Telling You)
In the early 1990’s I was invited to participate in a roundtable discussion with (US) national public health officials. They wanted to gauge what those on the front lines were thinking about HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns. I gave them an earful.
“Why won’t you tell gay men that being a top is less risky” I lamented. They always resisted “promoting” anything that might conceivably transmit HIV, no matter how remote the odds and it drove me nuts. “Give us something to feel better about . . .”I said. “Won’t you even say that oral sex is lots safer? Why can’t you throw gay men a bone?”
Gay men are still forced to piece together the latest facts about HIV, largely due to the reticence of public health messages - or in some cases, just plain homophobia.
Thank goodness for People like Sean Strub, lifelong AIDS activist and founder of Poz Magazine. In his blog posting on Poz.com last month, Sean joined a chorus of advocates who are furious over a fearful New York City public health commercial. The spot says “It’s never just HIV” and shows horrific HIV outcomes that include broken bones, insanity and even a gruesome shot of anal cancer.
Sean sees the campaign as another example of how public health gets it wrong, investing in failed fear-based messages while keeping a lid on information that could make a real difference.
In this video episode of My Fabulous Disease shown below, Sean and I discuss five things we believe represent what is wrong with prevention campaigns, or demonstrate strategies being ignored by public health officials. Pay attention to my links in this post, because I document the research and campaigns we discuss.
We refer to Swiss experts who suggest people with HIV with undetectable viral loads may be non-infectious (for more on this topic check out a great video interview with AIDS physician Paul Bellman, M.D.) and his article “Vanquishing AIDS” posted on AIDSMeds.) We discuss an infamous 1987 Australian commercial called The Grim Reaper and refer to research that concludes that fear-based messages do not change long-term behaviour.
You might enjoy comparing the difference between the NYC “It’s Never Just HIV” spot, in all its frightening foreboding, to the endearing life-affirming Little Taiko Boy, which presents sexuality in an honest and entertaining manner – complete with music, shirtless dancers and a drag queen goddess! By the time the goddess presents the film's lovers with bejewelled condom packages, I was enchanted – and happy for them and their impending bout of safer sex.
Does anything in our talk surprise (or offend) you? Did you know HIV negative people could take a drug regimen immediately after exposure (sexual and otherwise) and greatly reduce the risk of becoming infected before? This is an important community discussion and I’m always up for constructive debate or dissent.
Meanwhile, my friends, please be well.