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Positive Voices: Finding Strength in Doctor's Orders

Being diagnosed HIV-positive is the clearest example of how completely powerless I am. But I take comfort in following my doctor's orders.

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Op Ed US AIDS Policy vs US Trade Policy
December 16 2011 5:30 AM ET

Op-Ed: U.S. AIDS Policy vs. U.S. Trade Policy

Advocate Contributors

The U.S. hopes to grant more power to pharmaceutical monopolies operating in developing nations — and that could seriously threaten world AIDS efforts.

Oped The Harder Coming Out as HIV Positive
December 10 2011 5:00 AM ET

Op-ed: The Harder Coming Out — as HIV-Positive

Brandon Lacy Campos

I am fairly certain that I became an activist and community organizer sometime shortly after leaving the womb.

Advice He Wont Wear a Condom
December 01 2011 5:05 PM ET

Advice: “He Won’t Wear a Condom”

Steven Petrow

Question: Every so often I meet a guy who tells me he just won’t use a condom because (take your pick): (1) He can’t stay hard; (2) He’s too big; (3) He’s allergic to latex; (4) He’s HIV-negative; or (5) It’s a mood killer. How do you suggest I handle these situations — especially when I’m really turned on? Answer:  Let me start today by noting that it’s World AIDS Day, which is observed December 1 each year and — as the official site in the U.K. proclaims — “is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died.” That being said, there’s no better way to observe this day than to pledge to protect yourself and your prospective partners from HIV. And if there’s any tool we have to prevent the continued spread of the virus, it’s the much-maligned, low-tech (but lifesaving) condom.  I know you’ve heard this before (I certainly hope that you have) but latex and plastic rubbers, when used properly (and yes, that’s key) with a water-based lubricant, provide a high degree of protection to each partner. But sometimes information alone doesn’t do the trick. If only. Instead of going to the experts (as Mr. Manners often does) I decided to ask a friend of mine who recently became infected why his knowledge of safer sex didn’t safeguard him: “You can be armed with all of the information in the world, but it's much harder to put it into practice when you combine casual sex, alcohol, and drugs — and put places like Fire Island into the mix,” he told me. “My suspicion is that somewhere along the line I wasn't sober enough to do what I needed to do to protect myself, and there were enough of those nights that the statistical odds became stacked against me.” So, how do I suggest you respond to these periodic ploys (and that’s what they are) to have unprotected sex?  It would be facile for me to suggest that you just say no. Still, you can’t make sound judgments if you’re stoned, high, drunk, tweaked, or toasted — and there’s no question that drug and alcohol use are closely linked with new HIV infections. For now, though, let’s take each of the objections to using a condom and do a little role-playing:  He says:“I can’t stay hard.”  The truth: It’s true that in a fair number of instances guys may lose their erections after suiting up. But there are a number of things you can do, like try different brands of rubbers — especially those that might not be as tight or as thick. More often than not, though, what you’re hearing (and seeing) is a self-fulfilling prophecy based on a psychological response (“I don't like to wear a condom”).  To counter that, try making the unveiling and capture playfully sexy and fun. If your buddy loses his erection as soon as the glove goes on, go back to first or second base for a while to help him get (re)stimulated.  He says:“I’m too big.”  The truth: Condoms come in all sizes, my friend. Unless your partner is superhuman, there’s a condom for him. He doesn’t go shoeless because he’s a big guy, does he? He shouldn’t go without a glove either. Among the jumbo-size options are Trojan Magnum XL Lubricated, Durex XXL, and Kimono MAXX.  Keep shopping for options until you find one that satisfies.  He says:“I’m allergic to latex.”  The truth: Indeed, some men are, but there are condoms made out of plastic (polyurethane) that provide protection against HIV and other STDs. Be sure to use a water-based lubricant with either latex or plastic. And remember: Don’t use lambskin condoms since they don’t protect against HIV and other STDs.

The Great Hereafter
December 01 2011 10:50 AM ET

The Great Hereafter

Jeremy Kinser

Director Josh Rosenzweig reveals what he learned while filming 30 Years From Here, the gripping new documentary about the effect of the AIDS epidemic on New York City.

Oped As Long as Homophobia Lives AIDS Wont Die
December 01 2011 5:00 AM ET

Op-ed: As Long as Homophobia Lives, AIDS Won't Die

Advocate Contributors

Gay men exist everywhere and African AIDS leaders must accept that fact, writes Mannasseh Phiri, executive director of a Zambian health organization.

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