More distressing than the profound lack of knowledge about HIV/AIDS among the 431 adult men who participated in the survey is the fact that it reveals a startling failure -- even an absence -- of HIV education among gay and bisexual men, despite the fact that we account for the nation's highest number of those living with or at risk for HIV.
As gay and bisexual men, it can be overwhelming -- and in some cases, downright exhausting -- to keep HIV at the front of our minds and on the tip of our tongues. But talking about it, with a friend, a doctor or a potential partner, can ease our anxieties and potentially change our thinking and our actions for the better.
I recently decided to be public about my use of PrEP in order to raise awareness about this relatively new tool for preventing HIV. It's important to encourage people at risk for HIV to talk to their medical providers about all the tools and methods available for preventing infection, including PrEP, and to choose the methods that are best for them.
If you make an informed decision to practice barebacking, then so be it. I can't say I will never do the same. However, short-term pleasure, a sense of belonging, and the excitement of abandoning homonormative sociosexual practices cannot be divorced from either a willful rejection of long-term health or a romanticized concept of what HIV infection leads to.
The idea is that using healthy, sexual images in HIV messaging will dilute the fear of contracting the virus and further increase the risk of infection for my peers and the younger gay men on the up and up. On its face, this argument makes sense. But make no mistake: It is completely and fundamentally flawed.
We were so heartened to hear that the National AIDS Memorial Grove had renamed their college-scholarship program the Pedro Zamora Young Leaders Scholarship. It is dedicated to continuing Pedro's legacy by supporting the academic efforts of emerging young leaders who share Pedro's passionate commitment to ending the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
In 2003, I learned I was HIV-positive on a return visit to Zambia. In that moment I felt entirely hopeless as my mother had just recently passed away, too. I had the support of my family and those that I worked with, but no guarantee for my future. Would I, too, be part of the lost generation in Zambia?