No, I personally am not HIV positive, but those are the words that were said to me this week by my very good friend. After quite the emotional blow to the stomach, my immediate response was, now what?
It seems that over the last few years, as medicines are becoming better and better at keeping viral loads undetectable for longer periods of time and out of plain old unpopularity, AIDS has all but disappeared from mainstream media.
Over the past month, however, I have been made abundantly aware just how prevalent of an issue this still is. As one friend is now learning how to cope, another friend is fighting for his life, and a recent interest of my own just let the cat out of the bag. It seems everywhere I look, I see an unfortunate side of gay life that many of us don’t want to see.
Maybe it is that medicines are better, or there is a lack of sexual education, a lack of caring or its an inconvenience at the time, but condoms seem to be just as unpopular as the touchy topic of AIDS. This seems counter-productive to me, as they are all directly related.
It initially struck me as odd that during my travels, I would go into bars and condoms and lube were readily available for the taking - whether in a bin in the restroom or next to the cashier at the bar - to anyone who might get lucky that night. When I came home though, they have all but disappeared. Not in the bathrooms, not on the bar tops, and certainly not on the minds of people who might have had one too many to drink.
So why? Why, in a society that is so concerned about their health and image, do businesses not take a stake in preserving the very people that give them their profits? And why is safe sex not at the very front of every sexually active person’s mind? Is it that we are just hoping for a medical break -through before it is too late?
On to the now what?
Yeah, it is true that modern medicine is advancing at an alarming rate. Hopefully, our children will not be dealing with things like AIDS, alzheimer’s and cancer, but none of these things are assured.
What people can do is be aware of the resources that are available to them, take care of their selves and not give up. Even if it is not in the headlines, San Diegans are very fortunate to be rich with resources specifically for those living with HIV/AIDS.
One great resource is the LGBT Center for AIDS and there are a plethora of other services. Pick up any gay rag and turn to the resources section for listings of medical services, support groups, and gatherings.
There are even events out there if you just look. San Diego sponsors an AIDS walk/run each year, World Aids Day brings attention to the worldwide epidemic, and events like Dining Out for Life and San Diego Pride locally bring awareness to thousands.
End of story, if you are HIV positive, you are not alone and there is help just around the corner.
Joey is a graduate of Southern Illinois University, a 2010 graduate from Colorado Technical University with a MBA in Marketing, a prior Marine, and a triathlete. Originally from Illinois, he moved to San Diego in 2004 and fell in love. He writes for pleasure while traveling the world and continuing his education. He believes that experience is the spice of life and tries to find new things to see, do, and write about, everywhere he goes.