Mark S. King

Five Things About HIV (They're Not Telling You)

Filed By Mark S. King | January 19, 2011 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: HIV/AIDS, My Fabulous Disease, prevention

In this most recent video from My Fabulous Disease, activist and POZ Magazine founder Sean Strub and I reveal five things that public HIV/AIDS campaigns are unwilling to discuss openly - things that every gay man should know.

Last month, Sean joined a chorus of advocates furious over a New York City HIV prevention spot that shows horrific HIV outcomes like broken bones, insanity and even a gruesome shot of anal cancer. HIV risk was once again reduced to black and white, when gay men know their sexual choices are more complex.

Keep reading for links to the best (NSFW) and the very worst of HIV ads, as well as to the research backing up my chat with Sean.

Thumbnail image for GrimGrab6.JPGWe 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," (right) and refer to research that concludes that fear-based messages do not change long-term behavior.

Thumbnail image for Taiko.JPGYou might enjoy comparing the difference between the NYC "It's Never Just HIV" spot (in all its frightful foreboding) to the endearing, life-affirming Japanese campaign "Little Taiko Boy," (left) 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 bejeweled 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? Do you agree that stigma against those living with HIV may be greater now than ever before? This is an important community discussion, and I'm always up for constructive debate or dissent.


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May I simply add that Sean Strub is a fairly good ping pong player, but has no killer instinct. Who knew?

Sean Strub is also one of the LGBT community's hidden assets. His storied history within most of our largest battles still goes mostly ignored, but I'm dying to write a book about his life (which hopefully continues for a much longer time!). While some people like Harvey Milk get all the credit they deserve plus some, Sean never has. And he should.

Ahhhhhh! The only way to stay safe is to be scared shitless all the time! Larry Kramer says so! This is America, and unless someone is scared and trying to scare everyone else, then they're not Serious!!!!

AHHHH!!!

This is where the rubbers hit the road so to speak...

The conversation and information need to keep happening and evolving. My fascinating conversation with Sean Strub (or part of it, anyway) will be hitting Same Sex Sunday in the near future.
Thanks, Mark.

Great video. I can relate to a lot of it, especially the questions of trust. I always ask my partners their status, but the question of whether or not they're lying to me is always in the back of my mind.

I've been having trouble understanding why, in the sexual pool that I mostly fool around in (college undergrads and townies in Madison, WI) HIV seems like a far off reality that isn't immediate and is quite unlikely. We had a week of AIDS-related events the first week of December on campus that were severely under-attended. But you know this is a very privileged population that for the most part doesn't have to deal with the reality of the disease, it just seems like folks are forgetting the history.