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Topic Summary

Posted by: Melonhead
« on: December 13, 2010, 08:36:19 PM »

That's a great story. I think it's great how he took his diagnoses and, after coming to terms with it, did positive things in his life.
Posted by: VA Mom
« on: December 12, 2010, 11:04:31 PM »

This is something I came across on the www....a young man shares how he got HIV and what happened next.

My name is Chris, and I live with HIV.

I know some were here last year [on my Twitter timeline], so I’ll try not to bore you. I just want to remind us that we are here among you, living, thriving, sometimes barely surviving w HIV/AIDS. I’d like to tell my story: why I made choices I did and what I’ve learned–because I have learned a great deal about myself from this disease.

To start: I have been positive for 15 years. March 10, 2010 was  my anniversary. I am 41 yrs old. In fact, I was born exactly 1 week before Stonewall rebellion in NYC. I was born and raised in Boston in a working-class neighborhood. I grew up in uber-dysfunctional family: brother diagnosed as sociopath in teens, dad an alcoholic, mom mentally ill. It was hell in that family, I was a little “sissy” who knew at early age he was gay. I was OK with it but knew others wouldn’t be. I was terrorized as kid–ass kicked a lot. My city didn’t like femme boys. Also, I am mixed: dad was white, mom Latina….looong before mixed folks were cool.  :) We just were odd. So I grew up alone…and lonely. Went to college and  didn’t just come out of closet..

I blew the doors off hinges! I became popular…and, most importantly, saw that men were attracted to me. So I became BHOC–Big Homo On Campus–who also partied hard at clubs. I felt what I thought was acceptance for the first time. I was an activist, a feminist, just thinking I had to it together…but I was promiscuous. It filled a need. Men wanted me; I was desirable. Because of my background I mistook it for love. At 22 I was in my first relationship with an AIDS activist [and] always used condoms. Broke up after 3 years and saw a man I had dated briefly in college.

I still remember the night we met. His smile shut off every thinking part of my brain. I know you know those fine types–your brain disappears. He asked me home. I accepted after he asked my friends (we had a rule–we come together, we leave together.) They agreed–he was that fine. We went to my place & began to have sex. I noticed he wasn’t going to use condom. I thought about it but was afraid he would leave me. Yes, I was more afraid a man would leave than protecting myself.  We never talked about status until 3 months in…he said he was too scared. That made me pause…

I moved to Detroit and was in meeting where someone talked about HIV testing. I thought, “Let me go find out to stop worrying.” Got tested and went back three weeks later. I was working at a Catholic university & went to the center with friend who was a nun. (Yes, a nun.) A man walked in, sat down, and said “Results say you’re living with HIV”.

I said, “What?”

He repeated himself. He asked if I need hug. I said, “Hugging strange men is what got me this disease, so no thank you.”

He laughed and said: “I can tell you’ll be OK. You can tell in the first moment..”

I went downstairs, put my head in Sr. Beth’s lap, and cried. I said “What am I going to do?”

She said “Live, that’s what you’ll do.”

I got retested because the test was 99% accurate. It came back. The woman picked up wrong sheet and said I was negative…then said, “Oops.”

I was devastated.

I went home and called all my friends. Because of my past, I never believed people loved me. I found out they did. One friend called after I told her and said, “I am at airport to take care of you.” People reached out. But I was scared. I remember the first time I brushed teeth and bled. I said, “People will be scared of me.” I told all except my mom–my brother had died in jail and my dad died already—so it was just us two.  I couldn’t do that to her.

I moved to New Hampshire because I was convinced I would die. I worked at a very rural college—I had to reflect, think about my future. Dating there was hell: guys would fall for me and then say, “But I can’t deal with that.” I considered ending my life one night. I couldn’t stand the thought of being alone forever. I thought of my nan–she was just like Sophia Petrillo, a straight shooter. I pictured her saying, “No! Look at you. You will make some man the luckiest man in the world. You are too cute to go.” I went to bed and said, “No more pity.”

I went to get a doctorate and intensive therapy, which helped me to learn to love myself. It was hard–years of self-hate. Not about being gay though I felt so abnormal because of my past. Life was good, but I was lonely.

In 1999, I attended conference in Atlanta and sat next this guy. We started to talk, and I asked him if he was going to dance conference going that night. He said yes. I took disco nap.

I was talking to friends on the hotel veranda. I looked up, saw him, and my breath was taken away. He wasn’t like the “pretty boys” I had been with: here was an African American gay man who was shy, very Southern, and vulnerable. We danced that night and talked all night. I told him about my status, and he said “I’m a gay man, I knew this could happen. I don’t want best thing to end because of fear.” We hung out at the conference. At end, he asked where we’d go from this point. I said “I can’t imagine getting on a plane and never seeing you again.” I fell in love in 2 weeks and in a month knew we’d be together.

I finally went home and told my mom about my HIV status. She fell in my arms and said, “Don’t die, baby.” I said I wouldn’t.   We haven’t talked about it since. I love her, but she can’t be there for me. I have come to accept that.

HIV has been greatest gift for me. I’ve learned to face fear, conquer my doubts, and stand with my head high. I know I’m privileged when we look at people with HIV across globe. I have access to health care, good doctors, support. Many, many don’t have that. I have only been sick once–when my immune system destroyed its red blood cells in my fight with HIV. I take one medication twice a day.

But it impacts me today: many of you know I got great job offer in Canada. I went to psychiatric hospital because of depression and declined offer. My fear? I would die in Canada because I wouldn’t know how to access healthcare. I know that wasn’t rational, but I grew up in family that only went to hospitals to die. I’ve had to overcome deep fear to take care of myself. But I don’t know the other system.

I also found spirituality because of HIV. My birth dad is Jewish, but I never knew him. After finding out, I walked into synagogue, and my heart found a home. I have now been a Jew for 12 years….

People ask why I am open. I’m open because I want folks know: you know someone living with the disease. I am Dean of Intercultural Affairs at Bryn Mawr College, outside of Philadelphia. I talk to my students about this. If I can help one person remember: if zie walks out door, zie wasn’t worth it. That you are worthy of protection.

Author's Twitter Page
Posted by: VA Mom
« on: December 06, 2010, 08:46:03 PM »


Mr U got the answers wrong. I asked him to read this info :)

I guess there are a lot of misconceptions about HIV transmission. I know a few things because of my lab career...but I am sure there have been some new developments since then so I read the info too.
Posted by: VA Mom
« on: December 05, 2010, 08:49:00 PM »

I would imagine that it does. I have read that the foreskin membrane routinely rips & bleeds during sex.

Personally, I find uncirc'ed penises to be scary.
Posted by: Melonhead
« on: December 05, 2010, 03:50:40 PM »

I don't think I know anyone who is HIV+ or has AIDS. I know the basic facts about both.

Posted by: VA Mom
« on: December 05, 2010, 03:27:54 PM »

Does anyone know a person / family living with this?

I recall that Mr U and I were friends with another couple. Actually I met and befriended the H @ work and once I introduced him to Mr U we all became friends. Anyway...the H cheated on the wife.

Somehow it came out that he used no condom & the person he cheated with was HIV +.

The wife was a wreck. She had to get tested and had to do repeat testing for awhile. She was so scared.

They ended up getting a divorce. The guy has never been the same.
Posted by: VA Mom
« on: December 03, 2010, 12:03:31 PM »

I don't personally know anyone who has HIV or AIDS (that I know of.)

I know that they say getting HIV via casual contact is unlikely, but I would still be very wary. It seems like they really don't know.

Recently I saw the new Tyler Perry movie For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf.


There are many concurrent story lines dealing with 4 to 5 women but the one that is relevent here is this one: Janet Jackson plays a high powered ad exec earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. She has a very handsome (& closeted homosexual) husband who enjoys occasional dalliances with men.

He gives her HIV.

Posted by: Judy
« on: December 03, 2010, 11:23:29 AM »


December is National AIDS Awareness Month.

Has your life been touched by HIV / AIDS? Do you know anyone living with HIV / AIDS?

Do you know the answers to the following questions?

*What is the difference between HIV & AIDS?
*Can I get HIV from kissing?
*Can I get HIV from
oral sex?
*How can I tell if someone has HIV / AIDS?

You can find the answers to these questions below:

What is Aids? What causes AIDS?
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

An HIV-positive person receives an AIDS diagnosis after developing one of the CDC-defined AIDS indicator illnesses. An HIV-positive person can also receive an AIDS diagnosis on the basis of certain blood tests (CD4 counts) and may not have experienced any serious illnesses. A positive HIV test does not mean that a person has AIDS. A diagnosis of AIDS is made by a physician according to the CDC AIDS Case Definition.

Over time, infection with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) can weaken the immune system to the point that the system has difficulty fighting off certain infections. These types of infections are known as opportunistic infections. Many of the infections that cause problems or that can be life-threatening for people with AIDS are usually controlled by a healthy immune system. The immune system of a person with AIDS has weakened to the point that medical intervention may be necessary to prevent or treat serious illness.

What is the Difference Between HIV and AIDS?
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
H - Human: because this virus can only infect human beings.
I - Immuno-deficiency: because the effect of the virus is to create a deficiency, a failure to work properly, within the body’s immune system.
V - Virus: because this organism is a virus, which means one of its characteristics is that it is incapable of reproducing by itself. It reproduces by taking over the machinery of the human cell.
A - Acquired: because it’s a condition one must acquire or get infected with; not something transmitted through the genes
I - Immune: because it affects the body’s immune system, the part of the body which usually works to fight off germs such as bacteria and viruses
D - Deficiency: because it makes the immune system deficient (makes it not work properly)
S - Syndrome: because someone with AIDS may experience a wide range of different diseases and opportunistic infections.

How long does it take for HIV to cause AIDS?
Currently, the average time between HIV infection and the appearance of signs that could lead to an AIDS diagnosis is 8-11 years. This time varies greatly from person to person and can depend on many factors including a person’s health status and behaviors. Today there are medical treatments that can slow down the rate at which HIV weakens the immune system. There are other treatments that can prevent or cure some of the illnesses associated with AIDS. As with other diseases, early detection offers more options for treatment and preventative health care.

How do people get infected with HIV?
HIV can be transmitted from an infected person to another through:

•Blood (including menstrual blood)
•Vaginal secretions
•Breast milk
Blood contains the highest concentration of the virus, followed by semen, followed by vaginal fluids, followed by breast milk.

* Activities That Allow HIV Transmission
•Unprotected sexual contact
•Direct blood contact, including injection drug needles, blood transfusions, accidents in health care settings or certain blood products
•Mother to baby (before or during birth, or through breast milk)
Sexual intercourse (vaginal and anal): In the genitals and the rectum, HIV may infect the mucous membranes directly or enter through cuts and sores caused during intercourse (many of which would be unnoticed). Vaginal and anal intercourse is a high-risk practice.

Oral sex (mouth-penis, mouth-vagina): The mouth is an inhospitable environment for HIV (in semen, vaginal fluid or blood), meaning the risk of HIV transmission through the throat, gums, and oral membranes is lower than through vaginal or anal membranes. There are however, documented cases where HIV was transmitted orally, so we can’t say that getting HIV-infected semen, vaginal fluid or blood in the mouth is without risk. However, oral sex is considered a low risk practice.

Sharing injection needles: An injection needle can pass blood directly from one person’s bloodstream to another. It is a very efficient way to transmit a blood-borne virus. Sharing needles is considered a high-risk practice.

Mother to Child: It is possible for an HIV-infected mother to pass the virus directly before or during birth, or through breast milk. Breast milk contains HIV, and while small amounts of breast milk do not pose significant threat of infection to adults, it is a viable means of transmission to infants.

The following “bodily fluids” are NOT infectious:


Can I get HIV from kissing?
Casual contact through closed-mouth or “social” kissing is not a risk for transmission of HIV. Because of the potential for contact with blood during “French” or open-mouth, wet kissing, CDC recommends against engaging in this activity with a person known to be infected. However, the risk of acquiring HIV during open-mouth kissing is believed to be very low. CDC has investigated only one case of HIV infection that may be attributed to contact with blood during open-mouth kissing. In this case both partners had extensive dental problems including gingivitis (inflammation of the gums). It is likely that there was blood present in both partners’ mouths making direct blood to blood contact a possibility.

Can I get HIV from oral sex?
There is considerable debate within the HIV/AIDS prevention community regarding the risk of transmission of HIV through oral sex. What is currently known is that there is some risk associated with performing oral sex without protection; (there have been a few documented cases of HIV transmission through oral sex). While no one knows exactly what that risk is, cumulative evidence indicates that the risk is less than that of unprotected anal or vaginal sex. The risk from receiving oral sex, for both a man and a woman, is considered to be very low.

Currently, risk reduction options when performing oral sex on a man (fellatio) include the use of latex condoms, but also include withdrawal before ejaculation without a condom (avoiding semen in the mouth) and/or refraining from this activity when cuts or sores are present in the mouth.

When performing oral sex on a woman (cunnilingus), moisture barriers such as a dam (sheet of latex), a cut-open and flattened condom, or household plastic wrap can reduce the risk of exposure to vaginal secretions and/or blood.

Can I get HIV from casual contact?
(Shaking hands, hugging, using a toilet, drinking from the same glass, or the sneezing and coughing of an infected person.)

No. HIV is not transmitted by day to day contact in the home, the workplace, schools, or social settings. HIV is not transmitted through shaking hands, hugging or a casual kiss. You cannot become infected from a toilet seat, a drinking fountain, a doorknob, dishes, drinking glasses, food, or pets.

HIV is a fragile virus that does not live long outside the body. HIV is not an airborne or food borne virus. HIV is present in the blood, semen or vaginal secretions of an infected person and can be transmitted through unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex or through sharing injection drug needles.

Visit AIDS.org for more info about HIV / AIDS

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