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Tyler Curry
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Tyler Curry is the creator of The Needle Prick Project, as well as a fiction writer and freelance columnist for several online publications. He was once a kindergarten teacher in Seoul, South Korea, but was forced to leave behind the three Korean children he attempted to smuggle through customs upon his return. To learn more about Tyler, find him on Twitter @iamtylercurry, and on Facebook at facebook.com/tyler.curry.16.

Entries by Tyler Curry

Using Sex to Sell HIV Prevention

(8) Comments | Posted August 26, 2014 | 4:16 PM

If I've heard it once, I've heard it 100 times: So many people have accused me of trying to make HIV look "sexy." Many detractors have voiced a general belief that it is dangerous for those promoting HIV awareness or prevention to appear in any way that may come across...

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The Big Business of Hepatitis C and HIV

(15) Comments | Posted July 29, 2014 | 4:19 PM

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Protestors at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia

This year's 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, was marked by a catastrophic loss before the first red ribbon was donned by any of its attendees. Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was carrying six...

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What Not to Do If You Are Dating and HIV-Positive

(33) Comments | Posted July 16, 2014 | 10:35 AM

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Oh what a different world it would be if we all knew how to navigate the tricky and treacherous battlefield that is the gay dating scene. Not only must we face the same plights and perils of the hetero single soldiers, but we...

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Life Can Be Different: Saving the Next Generation in Zimbabwe

(0) Comments | Posted June 20, 2014 | 5:13 PM

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While driving back from Neshaya Secondary School in Makwa, Zimbabwe, I sat, staring out into the African sky at the rural homesteads that were loosely arranged throughout the land, built from logs, mud and thatch. Goats, donkeys and cows roamed free, unbound by...

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Fingers to Ashes: The Millennial Disconnect with HIV

(56) Comments | Posted June 11, 2014 | 5:17 PM

It is hard to imagine that it was only 34 years ago when the first case of HIV was first documented in the United States. Shortly after, the virus seemed to spread like wildfire, burning a path of hysteria, frustration and sadness across the U.S. and throughout the world. In...

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The Duality of a White, Cisgender, Gay Man

(5) Comments | Posted May 9, 2014 | 12:48 PM

As I'm an LGBT and HIV activist, my credibility and culpability in the fight for various human rights is often a topic of discussion.

Given the many layers of social issues that relate to the LGBT umbrella, it comes as no surprise that my race, sexual orientation, and identification with...

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Putting the Gym in Gymnastics: A New Fitness Trend

(1) Comments | Posted April 17, 2014 | 12:28 PM

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You may not have heard of it yet, but a new fitness trend has recently emerged that threatens to steal the thunder of other popular phenomenons that have you throwing around weights and throwing out your back. Instead of encouraging cult-like mentalities among...

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The Needle Prick Docu-Series: Defining HIV Stigma

(0) Comments | Posted March 24, 2014 | 11:02 AM


Getting to the root of HIV stigma isn't easy. The various misguided beliefs, assumptions and character judgments that get in the way of HIV prevention is a complex and enigmatic problem that has plagued HIV advocates for decades. But there is one thing that we can all agree on: It is going to take open and honest discussions involving anyone that is affected by this dismal virus. And anyone is everyone.

The Needle Prick presents the first installment of the NPP Docu-Series: Defining HIV Stigma. This is the first part of a continuous effort to help bring to the surface the root of what causes HIV stigma and how we can overcome it in order to more effectively fight HIV.

Everyone fears the prick of the needle, but a conversation about HIV is just the medicine we need to fight HIV today.

Get...

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Detecting Change: A Landmark in HIV Prevention

(3) Comments | Posted March 12, 2014 | 5:22 PM

For years, the legitimacy of being undetectable and what that means in the fight against HIV transmission has been questioned, criticized and rebuked. Although many doctors and HIV activists have said for years that having an undetectable viral load makes HIV transmission virtually impossible, this message was met with skepticism...

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Why Gay Rights and Trans Rights Should Be Separated

(59) Comments | Posted February 17, 2014 | 6:44 PM

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In the fight for civil rights, the battles have typically been fought between two parties. Whether it was blacks vs. whites, men vs. women or Meryl Streep vs. actresses everywhere, there never has been a need to identify a third party. And in...

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Gay Men, Lesbians and the Ocean Between Us

(22) Comments | Posted January 30, 2014 | 10:07 AM

It may not be the topic that most LGBT activists are clamoring to address, but the unspoken differences that divide the boy bars from the girl bars can be seen and felt throughout the country.

It's not because lesbians prefer acoustic rock, and gay men require the thumping beat of...

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The Five New Years Resolutions All Gay Men Should Make

(9) Comments | Posted December 26, 2013 | 1:30 PM

As we prepare to put on our gyms clothes and try to get one of the remaining treadmills, there is still one more blowout night of the holiday season to come. Filled with champagne, confetti, poor judgment, New Year's Eve is also when we swear to resolve one of our...

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The HIV Life Sentence: Health Care Coverage

(0) Comments | Posted December 19, 2013 | 1:47 PM

This past year has felt like an ongoing cycle of trying to bludgeon the barriers that stand between many HIV-positive men and happiness. Whether it is friendship, love, or success, the path to achieving a healthy mindset is surprisingly quite simple, yet so hard to achieve. The road to self-confidence...

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The Needle Prick Docu-Series Trailer

(0) Comments | Posted December 5, 2013 | 1:46 PM

The Needle Prick Docu-Series is a video project that is designed to get real people talking about real issues involving HIV and HIV stigma.

What would happen if we all started talking honestly and openly about what HIV means without judgment or pretense? That is exactly what the Needle...

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How Social Media Are Ruining Your Love Life

(15) Comments | Posted November 26, 2013 | 7:16 PM

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At the beginning of a potential new romance, both parties usually make an attempt to put their best foot forward. In an effort to dazzle your dinner date, you usually focus on your dreams of a family, how witty you can be and...

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Rejecting the 'Poz' Label

(0) Comments | Posted November 6, 2013 | 5:44 PM

It has been well over a year now since I discovered that I'm HIV-positive. When I learned about my newly acquired status, it was like I took a big breath... and held it in. Then, little by little, with each person I told, I was able to exhale. But it...

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Gay Men and the Pressure to Get Married

(25) Comments | Posted October 8, 2013 | 5:09 PM

I have never felt the pressure to go out and club a potential husband over the head quite like I do now as a gay man of 30. Sure, I have always expected to eventually find a man whom I will want to walk down the aisle with (though I...

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The Strength in Being a Feminine Gay Man

(108) Comments | Posted October 1, 2013 | 6:53 PM

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As the mainstream image of what a gay man is continues to morph into more of a hero and less of a victim, we continue to cast our most handsome, athletic and masculine men in the leading roles of the gay movement. As our...

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Camp Starlight: A Summer Camp for Kids Affected by HIV

(4) Comments | Posted September 27, 2013 | 8:55 PM

For most kids summer camp is that one time of year when their backyard fantasies and lightning-bug dreams become a reality. It's the one week when they are allowed to wear pajamas to the dinner table and eat popcorn for breakfast and are obligated to dance around the table before they've cleaned their plate. Every child should get the chance to experience the simple pleasures of summer camp. All summer long the squeals of laughter and cries over skinned knees can be heard from all over this country. But for the kids at Camp Starlight, it is nothing short of magic.

For 15 years Camp Starlight has created a summer haven for kids who are affected by HIV. Whether they are HIV-positive themselves or have felt the hardships of a parent or family member living with the disease, these children all travel to camp with something truly worth escaping: HIV stigma.

While the physical location is close to Salem, Ore., the majestic, wooded landscape of Camp Starlight transforms into something closer to a fairytale land when camp is in session. Each day is filled with repeat-after-me songs, archery, canoeing trips and horseback rides. No matter what they came with (and sometimes it isn't much), every child is given everything they need to make this one week nothing short of perfect.

As the founder of The Needle Prick Project, the duality of this heartbreakingly beautiful summer camp piqued my interest. Although I was aware of the far-reaching effects of HIV stigma, the impact that the disease has on today's youth was one effect that I had yet to explore. So my sister and I packed our bug spray, a pack of Band-Aids, a box of crayons and our camera equipment and headed west to see what Camp Starlight is all about.

I will admit my predisposition when arriving at camp. I expected that when the kids arrived, I would be overwhelmed by emotions and flooded with just the right words to capture this very special environment. As I began to put the campers' clothes into their temporary homes and wash their hands before dinner, I kept waiting for the feelings to bubble up. I might have even tried to force a sentimental wave or two, but it never really happened.

Why? Because these kids are just like any other campers spending a week away from strict bedtimes and mandatory vegetables. It doesn't matter that a common thread binds them together in the Oregon forest. For this week their favorite camp song or ice cream flavor or whether they want to swim or canoe is what defines them, not the sad story that leads them there. Every other week out of the year, Camp Starlight is known as a camp for kids who are affected by HIV, but when camp is in session, it's just camp.

While this was a wonderful discovery, I was a camp counselor on a particular mission. And while I fell in love with each and every camper, these children and their experiences are sacred only for the sake of leaving the experience ordinarily extraordinary. However, I still was looking for a way to capture the magic. With a name like Camp Starlight, all I had to do was look up to find just what I was searching for, but the real stars were much closer to the ground.

It takes nothing short of a movement to create an environment where children can discuss HIV, if they choose to do so, in a safe and nonjudgmental place, free of the weight that HIV stigma carries. The camp organizers, staff and counselors work all year to create this singular week of stigma-free, majestic bliss. Each year producing the camp session seems like an almost-impossible task.

From the endless fundraising to making sure that each counselor understands the gravity of their role, the leadership behind Camp Starlight works tirelessly to produce the impossible and make sure that each camper has what they need, both emotionally and physically. No matter what shade of bleak the child's background may be (and it can be extreme), the people at Camp Starlight make sure that there is nothing left to be wanted.

As I recall my memories from Camp Starlight, I have no sob stories to give you about the hardships that these children face in the shadow of HIV. That is because the people of Camp Starlight have created a place where these kids get to live the life that HIV robs them of. The emotion I had expected only came once the last camper had turned in for the night. The counselors would gather around the campfire in front of the painted wooden stage. Drinking endless coffee and eating leftover pastries, we'd share an unspoken bond built from the simple joy that had transpired throughout the day. The other counselors' weary but happy faces would gaze back at mine, and all of a sudden it would make perfect sense: The pain and hardship that these children endure year round had never really left, but for this one week it was the counselors' burden to bear. And we did so happily.

HIV is often thought of as an adults-only club. Many people will carelessly spout language that aims to stigmatize adults living with the disease, neglecting to realize that their words trickle below the 18-and-up crowd. But whether we are discussing someone who is 17 or 70 years old, the moralizing over who "deserves" it more is what continues to further stigma. The truth is that no one deserves HIV or the effects of HIV stigma.

The children at Camp Starlight shouldn't need special treatment, and their stories shouldn't weigh more heavily on your heart than those of anyone else whose life has been affected by HIV. Just like anyone else, they should be considered for who they are (no matter how bratty or sweet that may be), not for their HIV status.

But what every child deserves is a week where real life is abandoned, costumes aren't just for Halloween, and every day involves a cannonball.

To learn more about Camp Starlight, click here.

The Needle Prick Project is a video, photo, and editorial project designed to elicit a conversation about what it means to be HIV-positive today. We all fear the prick of the needle, but it's the medicine we need. Get...

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The HIV Generation Gap

(30) Comments | Posted September 24, 2013 | 8:09 PM

For the past 30 years gay men have been stuck in a constant sparring match with HIV. For the first two decades of the epidemic, it seemed that we could never measure up to the brutal brawn of this vile disease, but in the third decade of battle, it appears...

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