Posts Tagged ‘facebook hiv’

National Youth HIV AIDS Awareness Day Youth Ambassador Thomas Davis Hosted an event “Positive Transformations” sponsored by REACH LA. The event brought together several performing artists and organizations from around Los Angeles to educate the community on HIV & AIDS. Focuses were on several subjects from HIV testing to life with HIV. The event was a great experience and a great start to what will hopefully be an annual event. Thank you Reach LA for sponsoring, Lula Washington Dance Theater for hosting, Advocates for youth, Tasheena Medina for Producing, and all the artists and organizations that participated! A huge thanks to Tigersnooze Productions for shooting and editing footage of the event!

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Like it or not but HIV related stigma can be seen everywhere. From the entertainment industry all the way to our phones. Mobile networking apps or as I like to call them “FCK or Hookup apps,” carry much of the stigma. Many of these companies like Grindr, Scruff, Jack’d, and Adam4Adam do provide ways for AIDS Service Organizations/Community-based organizations to advertise services, and is a great opportunity to outreach to our community. Many of these applications allow for you to share your status, and even note your last testing date if you are positive; however, we are still turned down, blocked, or face ridiculous comments when we disclose our status to people or reach out to them as a openly positive person.  So here goes a list of the SHIT IGNORANT GUYS SAY TO POZ GUYS Online:    

 

“Are you clean/DDF?IMG_6869

Let’s face it before you can even get into saying what you are into or what your favored dick size is you are faced with either reading this in a profile or after a light exchange of messages. What tickles us is the fact that folks common sense would either be confused by what someone means by clean or not disclose one’s STD and HIV status in order to bust a nut or avoid being discriminated against. Let’s not mention the fact that many are positive yet just do not know it.  How about saying something like “I frequently test and currently negative for all STDs including HIV.  How about you?”  We are all clean.  Let’s stop using cleanliness to describe status and keep it in the hygiene category.

 

“Sooo… can you still fuck?IMG_7183

I take it that the  lack of comprehensive sex education and just lack of contact with positive guys attributes to this. It is really sad that guys think that an HIV positive diagnosis means that we have to give up our sexual pleasure. Yes, guys who are positive can have sex and lots of it. Many use the term “undetectable to share that they are virally suppressed and on top of the virus.” Studies have shown that an undetectable viral load means a significant decrease of being infected with HIV if exposed.

 

“Why are you still having sex and/or bare backing if you are positive?”  

IMG_7108 The answer is simply because I can. Just because someone is HIV positive doesn’t mean they have to confine themselves to a life of celibacy nor only have sex with positive guys. It’s all about sex positivity. If both parties are cool with it then so be it.

 

 

 

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“But you’re such a good guy.”

 I’m still a good guy. Being HIV positive doesn’t change who I am as a person.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I prefer my guys clean or DDF.”

IMG_4643Yet if no one even mentioned HIV you wouldn’t have brought it up or asked when the last time I tested (or cared if it was more than a year). So many put clean or DDF in their profile yet don’t understand you are basically saying anyone who is not STI or HIV free is dirty. Plenty of times you wouldn’t even be able to know a person’s actual status based of off window periods.  We need to learn to have healthy conversations surrounding current STI and HIV status.

 

 

 

How did you get it?

IMG_0683 HIV isn’t something you just pick up off the sale rack at TJ MAXX. Everyone’s experience with the virus is different. More importantly, it’s probably not your business. There are some people who are willing to talk about their own story, but that doesn’t mean you should assume it’s okay to ask other poz people the same question. It could be a difficult conversation for some people to have based off of past negative or traumatic experiences . Don’t be that person who reopens old and unhealed wounds.

 

 

“Who gave it to you?”tumblr_n8qcsl5s0w1tdjuqvo1_500

Who gave you Herpes? Oops was that too much? I mean it’s like asking someone what they went to jail for. Let the person tell you that information when they feel comfortable around you. Again there is such a thing as too much information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Well you don’t look like you have it?”IMG_8295

What does someone who has HIV look like? Remember we are now in 2015 not the 80s. Due to the available and much needed medications, research, medical services, behavioral health services, prevention options, and so many other programs we have the necessary things to stay healthy. Folks living with HIV keep their viral loads down, their CD4 counts/percentages up, and overall holistic health flourishing. Some people don’t look like total a-holes but hey looks can be deceiving, am I right? Listen, people with HIV look like you or me or him or her or them. HIV doesn’t look any specific way. Did you think I’d be wasting away? That we’d be frail and sickly little things? On the contrary, there are lots of hot guys out there living with HIV! (See thepozlife.com and this article for perfect examples.)

 

 

“Isn’t it like you just take a pill and everything is good?”

IMG_0743If only that was the case. Folks who are positive deal with so much stuff that goes beyond just taking a pill. Remember the fact that stigma creates barriers to staying adherent to medication and add a host of other mental and social issues. I hear horror stories of how people hid their meds in over-the-counter bottles, take their meds in secret, or even suffer from behavioral health issues. I have even been open about my own chronic depression and PTSD, which can cause huge barriers socially and to medication adherence. It takes those who truly understand the nature and severity of what people living with HIV are going through to understand that it isn’t just like a antiretroviral HIV pill(s) can fix things. So much time is spent with a mental health professional and a medical provider always checking to makes sure things are well.

 

“Do you think I need to be tested?” IMG_9925 Only you can answer that question. I would say if you haven’t tested in 6-12 months and have been potentially exposed to HIV then yes you should. In addition, if your local health department has contacted you or Disease Intervention Specialist (DIS) and they confirm you may have been exposed then testing would be advantageous.

 

“I was tested for HIV last year?”

IMG_6565 This is a tricky one. When I provide HIV counseling to many people who happen to be young and old alike I have to remind them of the window period, the need to frequently test, and the fact that based off of things like the amount of sex and number of partners may create the benefit of screening multiple times within a year (3-6 months). I tend to recommend HIV and STI testing every 3-6 months for folks who are highly sexually active

“Will you die?” IMG_7275

Chile boo. I am not going anywhere. As long as I take my meds as prescribed, go to my doctors visit, and live an overall holistic healthy lifestyle I will be just as old if not older than you. Yes! And so will you! I’m assuming most guys mean to ask; will you die due to HIV related causes? C’mon guys. Great strides have been made in enhancing treat and the lives of those living with the virus, and discovering out how to control it in order to live a full life. As long as a poz person stays in care and/or sticks to their medications then there’s hardly a reason that their lifespan is decreased BECAUSE of HIV.

 

“But you’re such a good person.” annoyed-2 Sooooo everyone else that has HIV are terrible people? No my friend HIV doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care which walk of life you come from. You could be the biggest sinner around or a total saint!  You could have a purse so heavy making Oprah dollars or dirt poor.  Keep your pre-conceived judgments to yourself.

 

 

 

“How did you get it?”annoyedgif

The same ways HIV is transmitted. Did you want some elaborate story? Well that depends on how comfortable the poz guy you’re talking to is up to sharing.

 

 

 

 

“Who gave it to you?” tumblr_m9ckn3wgDj1qfc8cw Again this is probably not your business and probably not the most comfortable conversation to have. Also, does it matter? If you’re worried about knowing who has “it,” and who doesn’t so you can know whom to avoid, then you probably should be taking other precautions. Like, I don’t know, talking about the matter with your intimate partners, condom use, and even PrEP?

 

“I prefer my guys clean.” not-mr-clean Hey good for you! Some like ’em clean, some like ’em smelly! STOP equating being negative to being clean! If negative is too difficult of a word to type out, use “neg,” maybe? It’s also only one syllable!

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I’m so sorry for you.”

tumblr_nlahy4GIv81rl3tufo4_r1_400 And I am so sorry that you are ignorant as hell. No one asked for apologies. Why? Who died? Is my dog okay? Dude, where’s my car? I kindly reject your invite to the pity party. Instead of feeling sorry or sad for me, you could try to support the HIV community by broadening your horizons and giving back. Educate yourself and start the conversation with your friends. I’m only sorry that people still cringe at the acronyms HIV and AIDS.

 

 

 

 

 

“Why does it always have to be the cute guys?” small-violin

Why does it have to be anyone at all? Why do folks think that HIV only goes after a certain look? Although certain populations are impacted greater than others anyone can be HIV-positive. It does not matter how you look, your socioeconomic status, the amount of followers or likes you have, or even if you identify as a top or bottom. Trust there are some positive tops out there.

 

 


 

Patrick Ingram and Adrian Castellanos are two awesome gay men of color living with HIV sharing their experiences.  Please share, spread the word, and continue to keep in touch with ThePozLife.com.  For media inquiries please contact Patrick@thepozlife.com

 

 

 


My greatest fears
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All of us no matter how big or small have fears. They can be the smallest thing to one person yet to another something so significant. People say to me “Patrick, you are so fearless you must not be afraid of anything.” Actually I am very much so afraid of things. I am open enough with myself and also with you to tellyou that I am not perfect nor has my life been perfect (blessed but not perfect).
 
I believe that so many times we try to give this portrayal of perfection, you know always saying we wear condoms, saying we always get tested for STIs/HIV, telling being you know who you mess around with status (and their HIV/STI status), having the best relationship and communication, having a 4.0 average, etc. etc. etc. We all know that for the most part that is a crock of bull. No one on this earth is perfect and by constantly walking around acting like our stuff does not stink.  Instead we should acknowledge our impurities and use it as a building block. Life is like one of those machines in the hospital that shows the heartbeat, constantly going up and down. That is the point of life…. We all go through ups and downs, without it we would be dead.
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So let’s see back in the day I was never perfect about using condoms, I never was properly educated on sexual health, my family is dysfunctional as hell (no picket fences or 7th heaven), I am an emotional eater, I do not see myself as attractive, and that is just scratches on the surface. So what are you impurities that make you human and how can you work to use them to your advantage to better yourself?
 
My greatest fears…. Well let’s see, the best thing to do is to do this in bullet points
 
  • I am afraid of the dark
  • I am afraid of the Nesquik bunny
  • I am afraid of any person dressed up as a character or animal (Disney World is a no-go
  • I fear never knowing where I got HIV from or if that person(s) infected others knowing/unknowingly
  • I fear my friends and colleagues having to go though the things I have gone through in the past year of being newly diagnosed
  • I fear by having family that is in shambles and a father that does not truly give me 100 percent that I will be the same to my children and they do the same to their children
  • I will die before seeing my 80th+ birthday
  • Being alone
  • Not leaving a legacy or not touching at least one person’s life
  • I will not live to see a cure or vaccine for HIV
  • Seeing more of my friends and community being continuously affected by with HIV
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This list goes on and on but those are my greatest fears. I think in the black and latino community that showing weakness is shown by discussing shortcomings, fears, and defects; however, in all actuality by discussing such personal and difficult things shows strength and bravery. How do we correct this? What are your fears and will you be brave to talk about them?
 

So I am finally getting a hang of this blogging thing.  I find it so cool that people are reading.  It seriously means so much to me. A few days ago I was having a conversation with a father like figure of mines (I call him my gay father) and he asked me where my facebook went.  He was under

the impression that I went on a blocking spree and he was a victim of it.  It was actually much deeper and pressing issue than just me wanting to remove people from my life.  When I found out I was HIV Positive I did something that I still regret to this day.  I told a person who I will call “Ron,” about my new diagnosis.  Well this spread like wildfire across the social media spectrum and the rumors began to start shortly after.  I began to receive so many messages asking if there was anything that I wants to say or if I was going to die from AIDS.  I was so shocked to hear such accusations that I began to panic and stress myself out; however,  I tried to not let it get to me.

The situation that really threw me over the edge took place on Facebook one evening on February 4, 2011.  I got home and loaded up my Facebook and found something that looked strange coming from someone who I considered my friend’s profile.  I notice one picture that turned out to be a needle in his arm

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and what looked like blood going into a tube.  Another picture showed results of a HIV test that showed negative.  Now the next statement is what still keeps me fearful from social media to this day.  Shockingly I read his status that said something to the effect of there being diseased people with AIDS around him who will do nothing but infect everyone around him.  The status continued to say that people who were dying and spreading their AIDS was not welcome with his friends.  At that point I was literally sitting there with my mouth wide open, so surprised that my secret was finally out, maybe not with my name attached but still exposed enough to want to hide away under a rock.

At that point I blocked the guy who said those harmful things and anyone closely associated with him.  I felt so naked and lost but ended up deactivating my Facebook page.  Minutes later I noticed that people on my twitter were talking about my posted pictures and saying that I looked like an alien.  Those twitter comments may not have been related to HIV however it hurt me so much that people were saying such mean things to me, a person who minded his own business and really stayed to himself.  At that point I told myself I was over it and decided to completely pull away from social media.

My excuse?  Well it was simply that I was becoming too obsessed with social media and it was absorbing my life.  Yes, that was true but if I was not called out I would still be an active user giving my friends and follower about my day-to-day and minute-by-minute commentary.  Things definitely have changed for the better.  The time off really gave me time to really grow as an individual.  I have become stronger.  I have reached a point in my life where I am more confident with myself and honestly I just don’t care about the negative things people have to say about me.  When I was a kid my parents always used to tell me that for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction.  So as an adult and as a mature individual I take full responsibility for my actions  and the results of them.  I am proud to say that I am a gay black male who is HIV positive.  Like I always say being HIV positive is a double-edged sword.  The great thing about my condition is that I finally have more appreciation for life, my health, and my friends/family who love me to death.

So due to this overwhelming growth and confidence, this HIV positive guy has finally made the decision to return to social media.  I will return and talk about my experiences and no longer be afraid of what people think and say.  Through my life I have come to realize that words can equate the same feeling of being stabbed in the heart or just feeling plain worthless.  Negative words and put downs seriously suck; however, I have come to realize the importance of being stronger than such verbage.  If I can say anything to my readers it would be to stay strong and to never let hurtful words put you down.  We all go through ups in downs in life however life is seriously an epic journey with the goal of making it to the end alive and with great experiences to pass on to others.

In 2013 I strive to be more goal oriented and to let people know that I am just a regular guy living a quite so positive life.  Social media.. look out here I come…