Looks like I am the last queer in North America to express his or her opinion on the February 6th ‘Rolling Stone’ article ‘Bug Chasers: The Men Who Secretly Long to Be HIV’ article. ‘Rolling Stone’ isn’t exactly ‘the New England Journal of Medicine’ and I haven’t taken them seriously since I stopped cutting out pictures of Jon Bon Jovi and taping them in my locker, but still, if they want to be considered ‘serious journalism’ they need to check their freaking facts first. If not, then stick to Brittany breaking up with the other Justin T.
Personally, I get the latest HIV/AIDS stats from the CDC*, not the good people that brought us the drug addled ramblings of Hunter S Thompson. Remember kids, if you don’t read it in the CDC ‘Morbidity and Mortality’ weekly, it didn’t happen. The Body is also a good source of reliable information.
I know that a sub-sub-sub culture of ‘bug chasers’ are out there. I’ve seen their webpages. It is my professional opinion that these very few misguided individuals are either too deeply into Ms Rice’s ‘Vampire Chronicles’ or else they have never been sicker with anything worse than a cold. Life threatening illness is not erotic, boys.
But I am preaching to the choir, right?
Now, do you want to know what scares me more than irresponsible journalism? I’m worried that, while the gay community (and Jhames, honey I am like you, I am not sure the damn thing exists either) has a hissy fit and starts a letter writing campaign over this stupid bug chasing article, we will lose site of the fact that a lot of people, and not just gay people, are still getting themselves infected. This is a REAL health issue, not pop jouralism. AIDS is the 5th leading cause of death in the 25-44 age group. BTW, that’s a CDC stat, not one from the Rolling Stone.
Mikey and I brought up the RS article last week to our gay teen support group. We like to stir the boys up and make them think. While the guys thought that bug chasing was ‘wacked’ they do seem to share the conflicting notions about HIV that either ‘it won’t happen to me’ or that ‘it’s inevitable, so why even try to be safe?.’ They also believe that the government supports the HIV+ and gives them all their anti-virals for free. Combivir is a cure and apparently unsafe sex doesn’t count if you were stoned, drunk or lied too. Or in love.
And calories don't count if it was on sale, you were just tasting or you ate it standing up.
Rationalizations! Try to get through a day without one.
Viruses, like calories don't care about your good intentions, do they choir?
Mikey and I were staggered by the ignorance and or arrogance of our boys. If ‘Rolling Stone’ wants to perk up circulation and scare the Baby Boomers, who’s children are now becoming sexually active, this ought to do it. No need to make up stuff. And, mind you, these are the opinions of boys motivated enough to come to a gay teen support group in zero degree weather, on the night 'American Idol' premieres
If we are a community, then we have bigger problems than trash talk in the Rolling Stone and we still have much work to do.
*Directly from the CDC: Despite medical advances, HIV infection remains a serious, usually fatal disease that requires complex, costly, and difficult treatment regimens that do not work for everyone. As better treatment options are developed, we must not lose sight of the fact that preventing HIV infection in the first place precludes the need for people to undergo these difficult and expensive therapies
jeff - 2003-01-27 18:02:51
what more can be done to get the word out than is already being done? if we as a community are failing so miserably what is the answer? does anyone out there know anyone that is either a bug chaser or a gift giver---or does anybody know anybody that knows anybody that is one?
Tony - 2003-01-27 21:22:33
I certainly don't know anyone who actively seeks to become HIV+; I think(hope and pray) that's as rare as avid players of Russian Roulette. What's more frightening to me is the incredible number of people (especially teens) who feel as Justin's group kids do: "It won't happen to me and, if it does, it's not that big a deal anymore." Those are the ones we really need to reach and orient to reality.
joop - 2003-01-27 21:23:37
I have wondered for years now: what MORE information about the spreading and contracting of hiv could possibly be made available or made more generally(ubiquitously) accessible?
joop - 2003-01-27 23:48:00
reflecting on the fact that the info on spreading, contracting and avoiding hiv infection has been very much before the public for years, I despair of a way to orient those who don't seem to be concerned.
JJ - 2003-01-28 17:26:08
Good questions, the info is certainly available. One thing that I've been trying with the boys is role playing, where they can practice negoitiating sexual activity. I've done this with the daughters too, although they are supposed to smack the guy and run
Tony - 2003-01-28 17:35:02
Perhaps teens need to actually meet someone in the later stages of AIDS to make the reality of the disease clear.