Thursday, February 23, 2006

I should write an aricle for "HIV, Ethics, and Public Policy"

Last night I went out, the details of which I will spare you because I know there are millions of readers out there who turn to me for moral guidance and advice on how to live a decent, righteous life. I wouldn't want to ruin that reputation for which I have worked so hard.

But seriously folks.

This morning I had to call in sick to work so that I could go with "a friend of mine" who was freaking out about HIV. (Long story.) We went to Callen Lorde Community Health Center whose motto is "We Treat People...Like People". That is the essence of what my thesis should express as the way to do health care. And I have to say those people lived up to their motto.

So while I was there I got tested as well just as a show of solidarity with my friend. They do the finger-prick twenty-minutes-results test. Like I told the counselor, Marvin (I'm in love with him), I was pretty confident that my results would be negative. But it had been a good while since my last test and while you're waiting those twenty minutes, your mind starts turning on all the slips and slides from the past, and you wonder what you would do if by some unfortunate chance you were positive, and on and on until you see on the paper NEGATIVE and breathe that sigh of relief. I'm happy to report that we both tested negative for HIV.

The thing that I tried to express to my friend, however, who was in this predicament because a condom broke -- being aware of the window of time between exposure and accurate test results -- is that condoms are not a magical force field that protect you from shrapnel and rains of fire. I do not want to sound like those "abstinence only education" people, but a widespread misconception -- even among medical doctors -- is that condoms are guarantees against disease. There are several things that condoms hardly provide any protection against, and they can always break. In the gay life we focus on keeping ourselves from getting HIV -- which is The Big One -- but forget that there are all kinds of bugs that can infect and lead to tragedy. Anal cancer develops from STDs. Syphillis can maim or kill you if it goes untreated. There is always a risk in sexual situations, especially causual and/or anonymous ones, of contracting something heinous, HIV and otherwise.

And it goes without saying, most diseases don't express their symptons for a good while, if they ever do at all.

So after all that, I did some shopping for workout pants, as part of what's keeping me motivated for the gym is the fashions. (I kid.) Then I went to the gym (I promise this is not going to become "Stroll's Workout Schedule Blog") and did my due on the elliptical which is becoming my friend and then lifted some weights. I feel that I am way more conscientious about using the spray bottles and paper towels on my sweat-covered equipment than other disgusting people.

With HIV fresh on my mind, I noticed on said bottle that besides the name, the most prominantly displayed fact about this liquid is that it "is effective against HIV-1". Good. But there is slim to no chance of contracting HIV from someone else's sweat, yet there are countless nasty skin infections one can pick up from at the gym from warts to rashes to molluscum. I find it a curious revelation about fear of HIV that that product discloses it's effectiveness against HIV, something you will never catch at the gym without biting someone's ear off, but doesn't mention its effectiveness against the things you can catch. Discuss.

On a final note, my MP3 player still plays the songs that are loaded on it, but it refuses to connect to the computer to change songs. So I'm stuck listening to Celebrity Skin on a loop, with "La Vie En Rose" and "Mississippi Rolling Stone" the only other selections.


anne arkham said...

Great post. Have you considered a career in gynecology?

Stroll said...

Actually, I think I'd make a good gynecologist, with my complete lack of sexual interest in vaginas yet my strange fascination with them. ;)