Tuesday, June 26, 2012

WTF is National HIV Testing Day???

Sorry, but tomorrow being "National HIV Testing Day" I need to grab and shake some people to get their attention. I’m so frustrated at the whole HIV/AIDS community and at society in general for what I perceive as apathy and denial. It seems we shoot ourselves in the foot before we even begin the march!

Where the hell are all these ridiculous public service messages about the dangers of tobacco coming from?? Who is paying for all this prime-time air time? And now I see PSA’s every day about Shingles, Pot-smoking, bullying, Autism, Diabetes…. etc. And in all the millions of dollars-worth of television airtime dedicated to PSA’s… nothing on the importance of testing or condom use. No information is offered anymore to the general public to help end stigma or promote testing, treatment or prevention. Why???

ASO's and health organizations focus so strongly on the “at risk” populations that almost everyone else has been lulled into a sense of safety simply because it’s awkward to promote or encourage testing among populations perceived as “low-risk”. Aren’t we just fueling the stigma by focusing our efforts only at a certain population of people? Who will finally step out of the comfort zone and say what needs to be said to everyone? There are no “at-risk” populations? We are ALL at-risk!

How can there still be so many reasonably educated and otherwise intelligent people out there having unprotected sex and who are quick to say they are healthy and STD-free when, in fact, they have never been tested? How can they feel so secure? Most heterosexual people (of any color) who don’t live in “the hood” are completely unaware that National HIV Testing Day exists, let alone know it’s tomorrow. Worse yet, if they are made aware and WANT to be tested… and live someplace like Encino or Burbank or Toluca Lake… they will need to drive to West Hollywood or Compton to find a free test. Most have no idea that IF THEY ASK, their insurance (many are insured) will pay for the test.

So how can we have a National HIV Testing Day??? I contend that we can only measure the success of this day by the people we test who have NEVER been tested. Get testing beyond the gay community and the ghetto! Get HIV/AIDS into the faces of all those stupid, ignorant people who just assume they are safe because they are clean, white, heterosexual, over 50 or otherwise “low-risk”.

We should at least have as many PSA’s as the stupid secondhand-smoke zealots!!! My God!

Okay… Rant over.

Love to everyone… get tested… get educated


Monday, June 11, 2012

"Why Don't They Call??"

So, a lot is happening in my life right now. 
My excuse for not blogging? Let’s put it this way: you know how parents complain that their kids never call unless they need money? Well that’s because most kids (using the term for anyone under 28) are too busy trying to overcome some mistake they’ve made and calling Mom or Dad to chat is rough unless you have some good news to offer. Blogging is like that for me.
Too frequently when there’s a lot of negative things happening in our lives, we tend to internalize those feelings of negativity because we only want the world to know of our successes, not our failures. Use Facebook as an example. Most people’s pages are chock-full of all the great, exciting and positive things they are doing, because after all, your friends don’t want to read about your ugly breakup, your teen daughter’s unplanned pregnancy, the three days you spent eating ice cream in a darkened room because you just found out your lover was cheating on you. Anyway… I digress. 

Several weeks ago my elderly mother fell at home and broke her hip. After surgery and some limited recovery, she has been placed in Hospice care at a nursing home. She just turned 81 but is not expected to live much longer. Over the past two years, she has suffered several small strokes, leaving her unable to speak coherently and with limited use of her right hand. I believe her to be perfectly lucid and completely aware but her inability to communicate has made her disagreeable and demanding. I know she is afraid and angry because she now has no control of her life. She is now completely dependent on others and is trapped in a body that no longer operates.
My step-dad visits her daily. They have been married for 43 years. I visit her as often as I can during the week and every Sunday. I always bring her a strawberry-banana smoothie which she eats lustily in silence. Every time I see her, she is a little tinier and a little more frail-looking and a little more… gone. I say a prayer each visit that she will be allowed to escape the prison of her useless body. It's a painful situation for us all.

Work continues to frustrate me but it is what it is and I need to try not to let it matter so much. It’s only a job and I have to accept the things I can’t change. I’ve discovered that boundaries and rules and circumstances which restrict me only make me struggle harder to circumvent the controls others put in place around me. In other words, the more you deny me or stand in my way, the harder I will try to find a way around you. I don't find much happiness when there are too many rules to restrict me.

I’ve decided to get my M1 license so that I can ride a motorcycle. I used to ride before there were restrictions and I’ve always enjoyed it but never taken the necessary steps to get my M1. This time next month, I will be able to rent bikes and begin the process of deciding what I want and how much riding I want to do. I’m very excited for the first time since leaving the hospital with my diagnosis. It really feels great to look forward to something again and I hope I meet lots of nice people at the Motorcycle Safety Program I signed up for. I’m hoping it starts a whole new phase of my life. Who knows, maybe I will finally start doing other things too. At least I’ll be trying something new.

More to come as my life progresses.

Love Betsy

Friday, June 8, 2012

How to Nix the "Ick"s

I did some thinking about a remark I made some months ago in my introductory entry. Someone pointed out that my remarks regarding my visceral reaction to HIV positive straight men were demeaning and that I, in my way, was stigmatizing them with my remarks. 

I decided that this person was absolutely right. 

So I am expanding my remark to eliminate that component by clarifying that I don’t find HIV positive straight men “icky” because they are HIV positive. The “ick” factor is triggered only by those men who lie and claim they were infected by a cheating girlfriend, a one-night-stand with a call-girl in Manila or some other very remote sexual contact with a woman. I believe these men to be untruthful and that is what I find “icky”. Liars turn me off.  

I want all heterosexual men to know that if they step out and experiment with other men, and don’t protect themselves, they need to own up to it and not deny it. And if there’s a man out there who was really infected through heterosexual contact with a woman… and can prove it to me… I’ll have to consider changing my thought process on the subject. Until then, guys, if you did it, just admit it. It doesn't make you less of a man.

So don’t get me wrong. I love men… all men… or at least all honest men. HIV positive or not.

Have a great weekend. 

Love Betsy