Wednesday, December 31, 2003

E-Mail to Neo

So I went to the Doctor. She's new my old doc left. Got my latest test results. No change. again. She says it's officially a plateau or baseline. My current health. Since March my TCell count and viral load have been more or less the same. She says this could last months or even years there's no way to tell but according to her I'm quite the ways away from going on any drug regimen. Aside from that she said my cholesterol levels "are fantastic" lots of "good" cholesterol not very much "bad". I asked her about being hypoglycemic and she said it would be showing up in my blood sugar levels and it isn't so a big no on the wonky blood sugar. I explained my symptoms and she said I may just be over sensitive to changes in my blood sugar (more than others) and I should carry some hard candy or juice. She also said I should drink more water to prevent dehydration. Apparently the liters of water I already drink are not enough. lol. She did agree that my testosterone is "low normal" and dropping slowly but it's still normal and she explained the testosterone replacement therapy and it takes MONTHS to do. So we decided to revisit the issue on my next visit. She also dropped my appointments back to every three months as she said at this point, even if my immune system started to fail they'd be able to catch it and do whatever needed to be done in plenty of time.

So all in all, potentially deadly virus coursing through my veins notwithstanding, I'm as healthy as all get out! Pretty cool, huh? I think I'm going to enjoy the ride for a while. See you tomorrow.

Ed. note:
Composing end of year wrap-up. Some New Year's Day reading......

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Have Yourself a Trannie Little Christmas

Glad you’re not here. Just kidding. I almost lapsed into the maudlin Christmas sucks I have to work poor me nonsense while waiting for the subway but face it kiddies, poor me just ain’t this cat’s bag. And this from a faggot that had a year, hunny.

Anyway, we had a delightful Christmas Eve dinner down at CafĂ© Torino. We being me, The Ex, Neo, Neo’s “ex” P--- and the always delightful ”Ashley”. Yes I use the word “delightful” often. It was a two hour affair partly because we were in no hurry and partly because the service was unhurried as well. That wasn’t a complaint, it was just all very relaxed with time between courses and then coffee and after dinner liquers and all damn civilized and pleasant with a lot of , yes, delightful conversations and much polite laughing and smiling.

Afterwards we came up to the bar to say hi to the kids at work and because The Hellcat's mom was in town from Cali and they were going to have a little Christmas Eve love fest at the bar. I had offered to pick up something (veggie tray or something) but he never got back to me. Not surprising, since I’ve got no phone. My phone has been cutting on and off for about three weeks now and I seriously haven’t had the time to call Verizon and inquire as to what the fuck? I honestly hardly ever use the damn thing anyway as e-mail usually gets the job done. I may consider switching to Vonage or another company and just go to internet phone service. The Ex didn’t even make the trip uptown as he wanted to rest up for his planned outing at Urge. “Outing” consisting of getting drunk and ogling naked gogo boys. He’s got this fetish about guys naked or nearly naked in public places. It really turns him on in a cheap, pathetic dirty old man kind of way. On the eve of most holidays, the owner at Urge let’s the boys go naked and (gasp!) with hard-ons and The Ex is right there with a goofy tequila and Budweiser grin on his face staring at guys he has no chance in hell of having.

Neo, “Ashley” and P--- cut out after a couple of minutes partly because Neo didn’t want to be there and partly because Jabba The Drunk couldn’t resist stirring things up by suggesting that Neo might have to work Christmas day after all. Never mind that it wasn’t true and never mind that Jabba wasn’t working on Christmas so how it was even something he needed to be concerned about is beyond me. No, strike that, it is his concern in that he’s not happy unless he’s causing distress in others. His concern grows exponentially in relation to how much time he spends cooped up in that office funneling in Dewars and coming up with plots and scenarios that may or may not have any basis in reality. But I digress.

So that left me. In quite the good mood. Fat and relaxed on a couple glasses of Merlot and some B&B. So I bellied up and got properly introduced to The Hellcat's mom. Turns out she’s from that little town in Cali what got walloped last week from that earthquake. I always worry in advance of meeting new people that I won’t have anything to say or appear stupid. I just need to remind myself that I learned a long time ago that in the art of conversation it really isn’t about what you have to say. It’s all about asking the right questions. People like to talk. They like it even more when they think you’re listening. It’s lots of eye contact and the occasional light touch on the arm and lots of “right, uh-huh”. And people think you’re “just wonderful” and “so nice”. So I ended up hanging out for a couple of hours sipping petit sirah (I am so gay!) and solving the world’s problems with M---‘s mom. I had intended to join The Ex at his “outing” But my all night 21 episode Smallville marathon had finally caught up with me ( and I’m not even a fan, just an insomniac) and I grew weary. Besides, to me, watching naked gogo boys is sort of like going shopping without money. It’s fun at first, but after a while fun gives way to frustration as you’re staring at things (In this case, uncut Latin cock) you can’t have. I went home, and slept contentedly.

Christmas Day I got up around 11:30 and clocked the news. Bomb scares, mad cow, the pope is unintelligible. Right. Fixed myself an enormous plate of scrambled eggs, cheese and ham while simultaneously fixing a dinner and preparing to come to work. If you can call sitting at the bar sipping coffee, blogging, answering the phone and saying Merry Christmas to people every ½ hour work. But I’m here. And I resisted feeling sorry for myself because I truly am pretty happy right now. I feel good.

I started this entry today intending to make someone who is feeling alone today feel a little better but fuck that. I’m so sorry gentle readers, but I can’t give you that. What you’re looking for can’t be found outside yourself. What you want comes from learning to be happy with what you have. Being honest about what you want. And being strong enough to get up off your ass and go get it.

Merry Christmas Y’all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Be Careful What You Wish For

My toilet is broken. About a week ago Sunday, after a particular boozy night for The Ex, the toilet simply stopped flushing. Water would fill it but the actual flush part wouldn't happen. The water would slowly drain away but only after coming right to the lip of the bowl. Visions of disgusting floods suffered by us and the neighbors below filled me with dread. Consequently, I have been going to the gym every day to poo. Some days I would just go ahead and do my whole morning toilette at the NYSC. My theory, since at some point during The Ex's lurching drunkenly around the house he managed to knock over two entire shelves of toiletries, was that some small something or other had fallen in and been flushed. It was enough of an obstruction to block the flushing but still let water through. In any case, I let The Ex handle calling "the Super" who would call the plumber and make repairs. A week ago. I enjoyed my daily e-mails letting me know the plumber was coming on Thursday. Or Friday. Make that Saturday. First thing Monday. You know she was too through. I am doomed to a life of doing everything myself. So I wake up today and pick up the phone and leave a scathing message to "the Super" explaining that two grown men in NYC really can't go a week without a working toilet and if he was not prepared to get a plumber I would call one myself and deduct the cost from the rent. That got us some attention. Apparently our plumber has been non-responsive and is now officially closed for the holiday. A new plumber was hired over the phone and arrived around 8pm. At triple overtime I'm sure but I ain't payin. I mean, it's not like I can use the toilet in my "other" house. Or use the neighbors: "hi, I came over to borrow a cup of poop at your place."
The drain was snaked and pronounced OK. How that could be I don't know. A toilet that works but doesn't? The entire thing was removed and the pipe from our floor out is clear. Upon further inspection, there is in fact a plastic or glass bottle stuck in the ceramic toilet. Further proof that drunken lurching about has unexpected consequences and maybe a 42 year old gay man who does this almost every weekend ought to learn to drink like an adult and not like a frat boy.

Repeated attempts to remove it have so far, failed.

Friday, December 19, 2003


Season's Greetings
D'oh! D'oh!

So Tuesday morning I sent a rather nasty e-mail to my boss down in Florida. Actually, in my defense it was in response to a downright stupid comment and an annoying e-mail from him. Also I was only on my first cup of coffee so reason, it seemed,. hadn't woke up yet. About an hour or so later I was fully awake and began to think this may really piss him off. Ah, fuck it. I make a woefully low salary what do I care? Then I thought maybe I should give Jabba The Drunk a heads up as typically, even when my boss wants to talk about me, he calls Jabba and tells him to tell me. How old am I? Finally around 7:30 or so I stopped in at a Kinko's and sent the original e-mail, my response, and the reason it all started by fax to Jabba. Too late. Apparently, my boss had been burning up the phone lines all afternoon between Florida and New Jersey. Typical, I make him so made he wants to fire me and he still calls Jabba. Daddy, why won't you pay attention to me? Why Daddy, why?

Beside the fact that I probably shouldn't have been rude I was totally right. These motherfuckers think that they are going to underpay me, give me no benefits, not provide health insurance and I'm not just gonna run their bar but administer their web site, run an e-mail list and design their advertising for the bar and any other business they want me to work for. Migrant farm workers have better jobs then me. At least use lube, Daddy.

Anyway, I'm not fired. godammit...

Note to self: My PC is fax capable. Figure out how it works, idiot.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Thank The Lawd Free At Last!

After many days of ultimatums, threats, yelling and general nonsense for three over 40 gay men to be engaged in. The Saga of Al Coholic has come to a close. It was decided by The Ex that Friday was the day Al was moving out. The Ex would be leaving for work Friday morning and Al would leave with him, for good. I would just as soon have tossed his drunk broke ass yesterday but The Ex couldn't bring himself to do the deed as it were. So I returned home from work more or less ready for bed around midnite but checked in one more time with The ex to make sure everything was said and understood and this situation was resolved as of the morning.

"Honey, you understand that if I wake up tomorrow and he's still in my house I will resolve this issue once and for all, myself?"

"Yes, but he's leaving."

Of course I slept fitfully and finally gave up completely around 9am (!). As soon as I got up The Ex came to me.

"I'm so glad you got up I got up for work and Al Caholic wasn't here I don't know where he is."

This, my friends, is classic addict behavior. You give him a specific sets of instructions and then he makes what, in his mind at least, is an interpretation that will allow him to persue his addiction. In Al's mind, because he was told he had to leave with The Ex, if he wasn't there when The Ex left he wouldn't in turn have to leave. It makes sense if all you want is another day to figure out how you can score more booze. Like this is the first time I've danced this dance. So I sent The Ex off to work and told him I'd take care of it. Hey, he tried. Show of hands of those that didn't know this would fall to me.

About 10am I heard the familiar sounds of keys in the lock and the door opening. Once you get that far if anyone is watching TV in the living room you hear it. I'm sure he was like "oh, shit someone's home" and then the door closed again. Nobody came in. About 10:30 Al came all the way back in and went immediately to his room. I left him to putter around in there for about 1/2 hour. Finally I stood outside his door. I asked,"So, are you here to pick up your things?"


"OK then."

At which point he proceeds to take a shower (a rare event, by the way), get dressed......and....leave! Without his things. This stupid motherfucker thinks he's gonna play me! Me! Girl, I been dealing with drunks and crackheads my whole life. The only time I got played was when I was too crazy myself to stop it. At full strength The Duchess does not get played. So you know I proceeded to leave the apartment, locking the only lock to which I have the only key. I went to the hardware store, purchased a new deadbolt lock, replaced the old deadbolt lock ( fuck, I'm a lesbian) and then piled all the posessions of my broke-ass-jobless-drunken, chicken boiling, gizzard eating, HIV+, cheese using, never leave the house, sex preventing room mate.

And still, several hours later I happened to be looking through the keyhole to see if Al had picked up his things when who appears up the stairs. He gets the note we left him "the $15 is for cab fare, the locks have been changed." (You are the weakest link, goodbye). And still, he tries his old key in the door. As if, this can't be true. I can act like it's not happening and the door.....willl......

I felt horrible. I almost threw up I felt so bad. But I felt like I was in a battle for my home and my sanity and my peace and the kind of life I wan't to life in an inherently crazy, fucked up universe. I needed to make the big call. And I did. May the spirits forgive me.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Sorry about that....

As you can plainly see I posted on Tues. Dec 9th and again on the 10th. My weblog archived it in the correct order but mysteriously chose to display it in reverse order. This has caused a ripple effect through time that I'm sorry to say is spreading globally. Eventually, everything that happened to you on Tues. and Weds. will reverse itself. Permanently. The good news is once it happens worldwide it will seem normal for everyone and you will no longer be aware that something's amiss. Or, time will eventually fold in on itself and we will all wink out of existence.

Also, a few of my fave bloggers stopped posting immediately after I listed them on the right. Coincidence? I think so. Still, they have displeased me and have been replaced. So.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

E-mail to Neo

Girl, I Snapped!!!

I woke up around 12:30. I had my usual morning coffee but only 3 or 4 cups over about 3 hours. I had a couple of bagels and some yogurt and then fooled around on line. Al Caholic stayed in The Ex's room all day (at his new job) and I stayed in mine. He boiled chicken ( I said boiled) for 2 1/2 hours. The whole apartment smelled of boiled meat. I was on edge all day. I finally got ready at 5:30 for my last group. I was walking across town just getting more and more worked up about how my home just isn't comfortable anymore and how much longer I'm going to have to put up with this situation and how unfair it is that I have to have this chaos in my home and job, and all the while counseling myself ( a benefit of multiple personality disorder) that I didn't really have to put up with it and I would have to put my foot down with The Ex and be "the bad guy" (if there really is one) in this situation. My vision started to blur and I tried to avoid running into people as I started having problems navigating the streets. I sat down at my group and by then I was shaking like a leaf and sweating. I wanted to jump back up and get out of there but I decided to try and tough it out. I talked a little and tried to listen but I wasn't sure I would make it. I was having a full fledged anxiety attack. Finally after about 40 mins one of the facilitators called me on it. He'd noticed I almost bolted. It all came tumbling out after that of how hard it is to take care of myself and The Ex and the house and the bar and R--- and R----- (who came to me crying because he doesn't understand why I cut his schedule) and I felt like the pressure was too much and I'm not strong enough to do it all and I'm tired, tired, tired. I swear, honey I ended up off my chair and sitting on the floor rocking back and forth saying "I can't, I can't, I can't." For real. She snapped. To their credit, my group allowed me to meltdown right in front of them. Once I got to the floor it was pretty clear to me that I needed to fix this Al Caholic situation right away. I made it through the group and felt much better out in the air. I came right home and just vegged out in front of my TV and finally managed to make some dinner despite a horrible headache. The Ex came back from his trip tonight and I told him the whole thing and that we had to do something right away. I explained that having Al here is like housing one of my customers and I've lost my last refuge. Supposedly, he's giving Al a bus ticket for tomorrow. He is too far gone and he needs way more help than an apartment and job.

Later on, The Ex sat next to me and told me I need to let him know when I'm feeling upset. He told me he is still in love with me (IN LOVE WITH) and would never let me be hurt. He said he'll take care of it, and I guess, in effect, me. And I'll let him.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

So long, boys

Today is the last meeting for my HIV+ support group. 10 weeks went by fast. I made it to every meeting. I might be the only one who did. I have no life. I'm so glad I found that group and pushed my way in at the last minute. I probably would be where I am now but it would have taken me a lot longer to get here if I hadn't been forced to think about/deal with being HIV+ on a weekly basis. Not that it hasn't been in my face in general what with The Girls at work and my alcoholic jobless broke-ass HIV+ room mate. But at least once a week I was dealing with my being HIV+ and what that means to me. I discovered that I would stay on the path to a more spiritual life. I decided that I would reject the culture of shame that seems to have grown around this within the gay community. I decided that I have nothing to hide regarding being HIV+. I decided to live my life and love myself. Hopefully, I helped a few people along the way.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Oh, lighten up

It seems to me my blog has had a humor-ectomy of late. I do laugh in real life but things lately have seemed soo serious for soooo long I'm ready to change the mood.

NEWSFLASH: I'm ready to have sex!!. Unexpected side note of my HIV diagnosis is it fucking laid waste to my sex drive. It wasn't that I couldn't do the deed I didn't really want to. I'm pretty sure it was because so many things were brand new to me and I had so much that I needed to process, like how I was going to conduct myself sexually in the future. I just needed to think and I guess my brain just told my genitalia to chill the fuck out. I feel much more confident in what I feel will be acceptable behavior for myself in the future and with that, as of about two and a half weeks ago, I'M FUCKIN HORNY!!!!! Howlin at the moon, horny. I want naked man NOW, horny! I want to fuck and sleep and fuck and shower and eat and fuck again. I want to lick Justin Timberlake starting at his belly and finish at his asshole. horny. I want to have sex bent over the arm of the couch. I want to have sex until I get rugburns. I want to have sex till I'm covered in sweat and gasping for air from my orgasm and then, just as I settle down I want him to bite me on the neck and get the whole fucking rut started again.

If you're in NYC and you want a sure bet, track me down ASAP I will have sex with you.

Monday, December 01, 2003

WORLD AIDS DAY (or WAD tee hee)

This is a fine piece of writing.


There are more than one million of us in the United States.
Don't isolate yourselves.
By Jim Lewis and Michael Slocum,
former editors of Body Positive

Maybe you have tested HIV-positive very recently; maybe you've known it for some time, but this is the first time you've reached out for information or support. You need to know that you are not alone. There are over one million HIV-positive people in the United States.

Testing positive for HIV does not mean that you have AIDS, but HIV is probably the greatest threat to your life you have ever faced. This virus may remain inactive in your body for a long time, but it may not. If you are healthy now, you may still go on to develop some sort of health problems related to HIV. You may develop AIDS. There remain many uncertainties surrounding HIV, and though there is currently no "cure" for HIV infection, there are treatments. You need to learn what information is available and make informed choices about your health.

Many HIV-positive people now live fulfilling and happy lives. Many are healthy and show no symptoms of disease. Many choose to take treatments and drugs that promise to lengthen their lives. So, as serious as this is, there is hope. You do not have to look at testing HIV-positive as if you've been given a death sentence.

It's a good thing you found this out. As upsetting as testing positive may have been for you, you are better off knowing, so you can learn about HIV and decide what you want to do about it. The fact that you cared enough about yourself to get the HIV test and the fact that you are reading this magazine show that you are concerned about your health. So give yourself some credit. You have taken important first steps to take care of yourself, and you should be glad about it.

Years ago, those who tested HIV-positive had few places to turn for support. These people felt like they were hanging in limbo. Fortunately, much has changed. We know more about HIV now, and many organizations have formed around the world to offer support and information to people living with this virus. Many have already faced the questions inherent in living with HIV, and many will follow. You don't have to face this by yourself. There are lots of hands reaching out to assist you.

Your Emotional Health

Finding out that you are infected is usually overwhelming. Even if you had suspected it for some time, learning that you are can be a traumatic experience. Testing HIV-positive has led some people to quit their jobs, quickly write out their wills, and say goodbye to their friends and family, only to discover that they aren't sick and will probably live for many years to come. It's common to perceive these results as an immediate death sentence, but this is simply not true.

What you are feeling now is perfectly normal. Anger, fear, confusion, numbness, depression -- all are completely natural reactions to the kind of news you've heard. If you've known for even several weeks, you may find yourself having a normal day, then suddenly remember that you are HIV-positive. It's common for this kind of realization to just "hit you in the face" out of nowhere over and over again. You are not going crazy if this happens to you. Your moods may swing from profound sadness one moment to extreme anger the next. That's normal, too.

The first step to getting through this emotional turmoil is to acknowledge what you are feeling. Don't be surprised to find yourself going through the day in a state of shock. Allow yourself to feel nothing. Your emotions will come rushing back soon enough. This is merely a way that your mind "turns off" to allow you to cope with a problem.

If you are feeling angry, that's fine. You have every right to be angry, and a lot to be angry about. This virus is threatening your very existence. It's okay to express this anger. If you're frightened, acknowledge your fears. You are thinking about things that would make anyone fearful. You are allowed to feel the way you do. Don't be hard on yourself or think you have to be strong. You don't have to be anything.

Fear Of Sickness and Death

Almost everyone is afraid of getting sick and dying. If you're young, you may never have had to face the death of someone close to you. We often think of dying as something that happens only when we're old. You may never have really considered the reality of your own death before. Now, suddenly, you are HIV-positive and your mortality becomes very real. You may be afraid of pain, of hospitals, or of becoming unattractive to others through an illness.

Your reaction to the idea of getting sick or dying could go one of two ways. You may decide that you are definitely going to live and that there is no way that this virus is ever going to "get" you. This is a form of what's called "denial" -- refusing to face some of the possibilities of living with HIV. If you find yourself feeling this way, try to keep in mind that having hope to go on with your life is good. However, it can become dangerous if it keeps you from taking care of yourself.

The other way you might choose to deal with the subject is by deciding that you are absolutely going to die of this and there is nothing you can do about it. If you go this way, you may find yourself fantasizing about your own sickness and death. You have to keep in mind that there are many people who are HIV-positive who are living productive, happy lives, and you can be among them if you choose. It's good to face up to the possible consequences of this infection, but not to the point that living today becomes less important than your fear of the future. It helps to remind yourself that everyone will die, but that doesn't prevent most people from living today.

Starting Over

One of the truths of testing HIV-positive is that once you know, you can never not know again. For better or worse, your life will always be different now. You may be experiencing great feelings of loss about this. You may feel that certain areas of your life are now in the hands of doctors, insurance companies, or symptoms. This can make you feel as though you have less control over your own life and may cause you incredible anxiety.

Know this -- you do not have to give up control of your life. By arming yourself with information and deciding what is right for you, you will soon realize that you are still the same person you were. It is your life, your body, your health, and no matter how well-meaning your family, your friends, or your doctor may be, they have no right to take control of your life. Allow yourself to take time to decide what you want to do. Then go do it.

You may find that many of the priorities in your life change rapidly. If you are considering making major changes in your life, just make sure that you think them through carefully. Many HIV-positive people have made huge changes in the way they live. Many have broken bad habits, such as drinking too much or smoking. Some have gotten out of bad relationships or quit jobs they really hated. Facing the possibility of getting sick or dying has made many of our lives much better because it has made us take action in areas we have previously ignored or repeatedly put off. Mortality can be a great motivator.

Some people blame themselves for being HIV-positive. This kind of guilt and self-hate is very destructive. Regardless of how you were infected, you did not go somewhere or do something with the intention of infecting yourself -- so why beat yourself up about it? You are facing enough right now; you don't need to punish yourself for testing HIV-positive also.

Grief, or extreme sadness, is one of the emotions that most HIV-positive people face at some point. You may be grieving for yourself, facing the possibility of your own death. For many of us, the virus is not only affecting our lives, but the lives of those we love. Many have lost friends and loved ones to HIV, or have many people in their lives who are also HIV-positive. Allow yourself to express grief and fear in some way. Permit yourself to cry. These feelings are valuable and normal; ignoring them will not make them go away.

You may also feel that you are now damaged in some way -- that no one will want to touch you or love you or that you are less desirable because you are HIV-positive. You may feel that you will never be able to love again, that no one would want to be with you if they knew that you were HIV-positive. These feelings will pass. You are not "damaged goods." You are still a valuable person, as capable of giving and receiving love as ever. You can make your own decisions, relax, and enjoy each day. This may be a struggle and you may have to find new ways of coping with daily life, but it's worth it.

Getting Support

Many of us have been raised with the idea of "rugged individualism," that we must face things on our own, that this is what "strength" is all about. Asking for help or reaching out for support are often considered weaknesses. Consequently, a very common response to testing HIV-positive is withdrawal. We isolate ourselves, hiding the news of our status. This can be very painful.

Your life does not have to be doom and gloom. It is possible to have a very positive attitude as a person living with HIV -- millions are doing it right now -- but it is much more difficult to get on with your life and live happily if you're trying to do it alone.

There's no need for you to handle this by yourself, and it's probably a mistake even to try to do it. You are not the only person facing this. Learn who the others are and what they have to offer. Just hearing how someone else has adjusted to living with the virus can be enough to help you realize that life is still good, that you can still have love and laughter. And you may also be surprised to learn that your own sharing can help others. In sharing the issues that concern us, each of our voices lends strength to the others.

Support groups, like those at Body Positive, are a powerful means of learning to cope with this new beginning. There are support groups offered by HIV/AIDS organizations across the country. If you don't know of an HIV/AIDS organization in your area, call us at (212) 566-7333. If there's no support group in your area, you may be just the person to get one started. Just remember: those millions of people living successfully with HIV are people who've reached out to get the help they needed. Wherever you are, you can find support, or the means to create it. It just doesn't make sense for us to face the same issues without helping each other out. We are not alone. And neither are you.

Michael Slocum and Jim Lewis were editors of Body Positive. HIV/AIDS organizations around the world have reprinted "You Are Not Alone" in their own languages.

__________________________________ ______________________________________________

I wrote this for my internet buddy R---- website and he's done a Hurculean job to mark the day. Go see it:

A wise man once said (OK it was me) not to dwell in the past. It's not all
that important how you arrived at this point, what's important is what you
do now that you're here. That's how I feel about being HIV+. There are as
many roads to get here as there are people who already have. The why and how
of contracting HIV are irrelevant. The important part is how you intend to
conduct yourself and your life from here on in. I view my diagnosis as a
test to see if my spiritual beliefs will hold. So far, they have served me
well. I view my diagnosis as an opportunity to continue on the path to
becoming a better man. A challenge to demonstrate courage and determination.
I square my shoulders to the perceptions of shame and the inherent fears and
hold my head up, forcing myself to shake it off and face them down. I defy
death and choose instead to live with HIV.

USA: 6 of 10 Heterosexual Adults Haven't Been Tested for HIV

35% GLBT Adults Remain Untested as World AIDS Day Nears

National Survey Sheds New Light on the State of HIV Testing
Compiled by GayToday
Witeck-Combs Communications/Harris Interactive
Rochester, N.Y.-- Six out of ten (59%) heterosexual adults report that they have never been tested for the HIV/AIDS virus compared to only a third (35%) of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) adults - timely findings as World AIDS Day is observed on December 1, 2003.
At a time when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports HIV infection on the rise in youth and young adults in the United States, two-thirds (67%) of young adults ages 18 to 24 responded they have never received an HIV test. However, 58% of African Americans and 45% of Hispanics - both populations disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS - indicate they have been tested for HIV at least once, compared to only one-third or 33% of white Americans.
These are highlights from a nationwide Witeck-Combs Communications/Harris Interactive study of 2,056 adults of whom approximately seven percent (7%) self-identified as GLBT. The survey was conducted online between October 21 and 27, 2003 by Harris Interactive®, a worldwide market research and consulting firm, in conjunction with Witeck-Combs Communications, Inc., a strategic public relations and marketing communications firm with special expertise in the GLBT market and on health and disability issues.
One disturbing finding is that eight out of 10 (80%) heterosexual adults say the number one reason for not being tested for HIV is that they do not consider themselves at risk for HIV, an indication that more HIV/AIDS prevention education is needed for heterosexual Americans. "As World AIDS Day approaches, these numbers are a very sobering reminder that federal, state and local governments, public health officials, health care providers, and community and faith-based organizations face significant hurdles in curbing the spread of HIV in America," said Darin Johnson, vice president for Witeck-Combs Communications. "We found that complacency about HIV risk continues to be widespread among all populations and demographics."
"It is particularly alarming that 22 years into the AIDS epidemic, we are still faced with fundamental misunderstandings about HIV and AIDS", said Ana Oliveira, executive director of Gay Men's Health Crisis. "Eighty percent of heterosexuals are not getting tested because AIDS is still considered by many to be a 'gay' disease. However, HIV is contingent on risk behavior, and does not discriminate."
Some other key findings from this survey include:
* A significant majority of heterosexual and GLBT respondents say their health care provider did not discuss HIV/AIDS testing and/or prevention with them during their last medical appointment (only 3% of heterosexuals vs. 12% of GLBT said their provider discussed HIV testing, while 2% of heterosexuals vs. 10% of GLBT said their provider discussed HIV prevention).
* The most common response among those who have been tested, when asked where they had been tested last for HIV, was a health care provider's office (34% GLBT vs. 39% heterosexual), followed by a hospital (21% GLBT vs. 16% heterosexual). Other testing sites include a community health center (12% GLBT vs. 8% heterosexual), public health department (7% GLBT vs. 5% heterosexual), or the workplace (4% GLBT vs. 7% heterosexual).
* Of those who have been tested for HIV, GLBT adults are less likely to learn the results of their test compared to heterosexual adults (79% GLBT vs. 90% heterosexual). " Engaging in risky behavior (45%) and entering into a new intimate relationship (44%) were the top reasons reported by GLBT respondents for getting tested for HIV. Overall, 43% of heterosexuals and 49% of African Americans surveyed said their top reason for getting tested was that it was offered by their health care provider as part of a routine visit.
* The rapid-response HIV test, which produces test results in less than 20 minutes, was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in clinical settings. Only 19% of GLBT and 5% of heterosexual respondents said they were extremely or very likely to get a rapid-response HIV test during their next visit with their health care provider now that such tests are available.
* GLBT (84%) and heterosexual (73%) respondents agreed that people living with HIV or AIDS are often discriminated against because of their condition.
"It seems that health care providers and patients continue to feel discomfort in talking about HIV/AIDS testing and prevention issues even when the survey tells us that doctor's offices and hospitals are the most common site for HIV testing and counseling," said David Krane, senior vice president for Harris Interactive.
"The results of this survey are illustrative of the critical work that lies ahead for HIV/AIDS service organizations across the country," said Paul Kawata, executive director of the National Minority AIDS Council, Washington, D.C. "The question for all of us is: Are our messages resonating with people who are at risk of infection? It's clear we need to increase our collective efforts to provide basic HIV/AIDS education for individuals and groups around stigma, at-risk behavior, testing and counseling services, and prevention."
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive between October 21, 2003 and October 27, 2003, among a nationwide cross section of 2,056 adults (ages 18+). Of those adults surveyed, approximately seven percent (7%), self-identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT). Figures for age, sex, race, education and number of adults in the household were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. "Propensity score" weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.
In theory, with a probability sample of this size (for the total sample), one can say with 95 percent certainty that the results have a statistical precision of plus or minus two percentage points of what they would be if the entire adult population had been polled with complete accuracy. Statistical precision is +/-10 percentage points for the GLBT sample. Unfortunately, there are several other possible sources of error in all polls or surveys that are probably more serious than theoretical calculations of sampling error. They include refusals to be interviewed (non-response), question wording and question order, interviewer bias, weighting by demographic control data and screening (e.g., for likely voters). It is impossible to quantify the errors that may result from these factors. This online survey is not a probability sample.
These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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