Monday, August 18, 2008

HIV/AIDS: Three news stories

At work, I sometimes surf the web to find interesting news stories about HIV/AIDS to share with my coworkers. It's something I started to relieve a little boredom that can happen at 4am in the Emergency Room; but, mostly, it's to keep myself updated and provide fodder for postings for my blog.

Found three interesting little bits...

1) To start, the biggest duh story of the year (up there with "alocohol and drugs increase HIV risk behavior"): Crack users with HIV engage in unprotected sex. Thanks guys, we know. The numbers:
One-fourth of the group reported having unprotected sex in the last six months,half had not seen an HIV specialist in the last six months, and more than three-fourths were not getting important medical treatments.

*Shrug* I suppose it's a good reminder.

2) From Uganda...
Health officials and campaigners have protested proposals from Uganda to condemn
to death or severely punish people who deliberately infect others with HIV.

Uganda has become the latest in a number of countries which are considering or have enacted laws which punish people who deliberately infect others.

Let me go on record as saying: I do not support laws that criminalize sex for people eith HIV. The laws, I understand, that say it is illegal for HIV+ persons to engage in sex without first notifying their partner of their status are to provide safeguards against the almost mythical (thus, rarely true) predatorial person who is consciously and knowingly infecting people. Rather, the law is being used mainly against prostitutes and people guilty of other sex crimes -- public lewdness, solicitation, importuning, etc. -- and I don't think there has been a case where the law was used genuinely against the people that was used in propaganda to support the bill (think Welfare Queens a la Reagan for a similar example).

There are two people (or more, I suppose) in the room (or car, I suppose, or park) when sex occurs. They both make decisions and they both consent to a series of behaviors that they know may put them at risk for HIV and/or any other STD. To blame just the HIV+ person is marginalizing them, because the (supposed) HIV- person had a say in what was going on. I don't think it's right to prosecute because, as is most cases, the negative person simply did not ask if the person they were having sex with was positive.

In the case of prostitutes, I don't think it's really an issue 99% of the time because that's mainly oral (extremely low risk for HIV transmission).

A friend of mine (HIV+) once said to me a line that was disturbing at first, but I now regard as truer than anything I've heard in my years of work in HIV/AIDS: If they don't ask, they either have it or want it. It's disturbing to hear, but the reality is that most people in the world (especially in my gay world) are keenly aware that HIV exists. Most of them know that they play a part in their own protection, but, for whatever reason, depersonalize the risks and move on. So, in a way, he's right. People know they should ask, and, if they don't, they are consenting to the risks of the behavior as well as the behavior itself. (Consent, ultimately, is an agreement to knowingly accept possible outcomes of a decision -- negative and postive and, sometimes, unknown.)

Do I agree with this death sentence? No. Though my coworker brought up the point: If someone knowingly infected my daughter, I wouldn't wait for the government to do anything. I'd string him up myself.

For the record, I also don't support lynchings or vigilante justice.

3) And a good reminder that the best way to get tested is through a known source and/or provider of HIV testing services... online testing kits are not always the safest, and there are no current FDA approved HIV tests (I don't think... can someone fill me in if I'm wrong) that are "home testing." There have been in the past, but the vast majority have been pulled from the market. Besides, I don't like the idea of home testing simply because it concerns me about someone finding the result at home, alone, with no one to say "alright, this is the next step" or to help bear the emotional brunt of those feelings.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Barrykins,

Hey Queen! Listen, I was cruising your blog (you are so gay--then again, so am I) when I saw your HIV at-home thingy. As far as I know YES, there are FDA-approved take-home kits available. You can check the fda web site (updated JAN 08) as well as and for actual place to buy them. The blood sample gets sent to a lab by fedex or UPS--something with a reliable tracking number (ie., NOT the USPS) and you call in to get your results using PIN numbers and codes.

So how are things in the Cin? Shoot me an email sometime: