Guest Blogger

The KS Boogey Man

Filed By Guest Blogger | November 04, 2011 9:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Alex Garner, HIV+, HIV/AIDS, Karposi's sarcoma, KS, KS is back, Patricia Nell Warren

Editors' Note: An actor and writer, Alex Garner co-wrote with Eric Rofes, "The Infection Monologues" - a funny and thought-provoking play about the modern HIV experience. Alex is the HIV Health and Lifestyle Contributor for FrontiersLA.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @alexgarnerla

KS or Kaposi's sarcoma is scary. When I read a headline like, "KS Is Back," my Danny-Warner-Michael-Callen .jpgfirst reaction is, "Oh crap!"

I never had KS and knew only a handful of people who had it but it has always frightened me. In fact, it was the first malady I ever associated with HIV. I had watched the movie, As Is on Showtime as a 12-year-old and when one of the characters discovered KS on his lover's back I freaked out. I immediately ran into my bathroom to look for KS on my back even though I wasn't having sex yet and didn't identify as gay. I just knew that the men in the film were like me and what happened to them would happen to me.

So this KS headline frightened me and maybe that was the intention but I'm not a big fan of fear-based tactics. After reading the article more closely, maybe the headline should be, "KS Never Really Went Away." It's always been there though mostly unseen. Haunting us like an AIDS ghost.

The threat of KS should be taken seriously. This is a very thorough article that really helps the reader understand what KS is. But instead of acting like my freaked out 12-year-old self, I should take a deep breath. I suggest we all do that.

(Caption: David Warner and Michael Callen - Photo credit: Karen Ocamb)

The article's mention of the Oxford University's Journal of the National Cancer Institute's 10-year study brings up lots of questions. How can they lump in men from sub-Saharan Africa with men from Europe, Australia and Canada and not expect it to skew the results a bit? What percentage of the total group did the sub-Saharan African men represent?

The men in the study who were diagnosed with KS only represent 5 percent of the total group. How does that number compare to the rate of other opportunistic infections in this country, like PCP?

In these cases where they are discovering KS, what are the other contributing factors to these men's health? How long have they had the virus? Do the have con-infections?

This article leaves me with concern and lots of questions. Every so often we hear an HIV-related story about a super virus or a mutant strain or reinfection. After further examination many of those stories prove entirely false or not nearly as frightening.

KS is scary; there is no doubt about it. It plays to our greatest fears, as it's a literal marker of AIDS. It's the stigmata of a disease that ravaged our community, our culture and our souls. The world has changed drastically since then and we aren't going back there. Let's be educated and let's be prepared but let's also try to be less scared.


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