D Gregory Smith

Facebook Plea For Live Testing by Anderson Cooper or Dr. Sanjay Gupta- Will It Work?

Filed By D Gregory Smith | June 18, 2010 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Anderson Cooper, buzzkill, HIV Testing Awareness Day, HIV/AIDS testing, Sanjay Gupta

National HIV awareness organization Who's Positive is launching a ten-day effort to promote HIV testing by taking a Facebook group viral.

"Just like a successful attempt to bring Betty White to Saturday Night Live, Who's Positive encourages people from all over the World to join a Facebook group called "ANDERSON COOPER or Dr. SANJAY GUPTA - PERFORM LIVE HIV TEST ON AIR on 6/27," said Tom Donohue, Founding Director of Who's Positive.

"Yesterday was not soon enough, tomorrow is too late to bring much needed attention to this epidemic" says Donohue. "We need to respond to the HIV epidemic with the same urgency as our nation has to the H1N1 virus. I'm hopeful that this Facebook group will become viral and Anderson and Sanjay will step up to dedicating a small part of their nearly daily appearance on CNN to getting tested and showing how painless and simple being tested can be."

Painless and simple, right?

Not really.

Who's Positive is a great organization - I subscribe to their email newsletter, have been inspired by the stories of members, and used their resources for my clients and HIV+ support groups. But I wonder if the message is just getting lost with all the other distractions of Pride Month.

Like many others in HIV prevention work, I see the uphill battle every day. I see the LGBT kids who have little or no self-esteem, the married men who are secretly having unsafe sex on the side, the middle-aged out-and-proud gay men who are tired of condoms, and the HIV positive people who are worn out from rejection, hypervigilance, economic worries and fear of the future. I see them all. I've staffed the HIV booths at Pride festivals, I've handed out condoms in parades. I've watched the glazing over of eyes when talking about HIV to high-risk groups. I've worked my ass off. Often it makes me physically and emotionally very tired- and sometimes very cynical about the ubiquitous pairing of HIV and Pride.

Let's face it, denial in the form of colorful parades, drunken revelry and hot bodies is much more attractive than the reality of an HIV wake-up call.

Don't kill the buzz, dude.

But I take a breath, reinforce my belief in the fundamental goodness of humanity and soldier on - like thousands of others.

Like Tom Donohue.

It's people like him who can take that cynicism and turn it around. " A facebook group, well why not?" Maybe people can click a link in between sewing sequins on their g-strings and waxing. In fact, maybe we could make it sexy. "Join this group while naked!"

However it works, it can only help. But only if people join.

Personally, I did it while wearing my sequined g-string.


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the middle-aged out-and-proud gay men who are tired of condoms

Thanks, Greg. Every time anyone writes about HIV rates nowadays they always seem to blame it all on those irresponsible younger gay men who are just empty-headed because they didn't live through the 80's/90's. anyone over the age of 40 is still using condoms regularly, of course.

This isn't the reality I've known for the last few years, but whatever. It's easier for people to pawn the problem off on others instead of examining what they're doing.

These are difficult times, getting people to care about anything real. Too much TV, IMHO. :)

It's completely true- some of us over 40 guys are sick of the work that sex has become. Hopefully we can talk about it more.

I am sorry, but I don't think this Facebook page is a good idea. Having oneself tested for HIV is a very private thing to do. What makes you think that somebody, especially someone who, arguably, does not want to come out of the closet, would agree to do it in public?

Your request that Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta get tested on camera is almost an insult. Regardless of Mr. Cooper and Dr. Gupta's sexual preference, whether they get tested for HIV or not is something only they can decide to do, your asking them to do it, and in public, is not a very polite nor a reasonable thing to do.

I don't doubt that you have very good intentions proposing this request; but, in my opinion, I think it is a very insensitive, rude and offensive thing to do.

Thanks for sharing. Did you read the entire post?
It's not necessarily about whether this is a polite idea, it's about awareness, knowledge, taking control over our own health in spite of distractions and denial. It's not about outing someone or being impolite, rude and offensive- although I find it interesting that you find it so.
This is about bringing the reality of HIV closer to home, and abolishing some of the stigma associated with testing.

A. J. Lopp | June 21, 2010 3:06 PM

HIV testing is a personal thing --- and it is also a totally possible personal choice for a public figure to get tested in public to set a good example --- Barack and Michelle Obama did it, and I commend them for doing at least that much.

Anderson Cooper and Sanjay Gupta MD can take care of thimselves --- most high-profile public figures slipped their Big Boy Boxers on quite some time ago, and especially so when half their fans assume they are gay, as is the case with AC/DC Anderson.
Worst case, they can say, "Nice try, but see if you can get someone else to do it."

Rick Sours | June 20, 2010 1:17 PM

As an openly Gay male over 40, I simply do not understand why Gay/Bisexual men over 40 resist talking about their HIV status or practicing "safe sex".