Paws on POZ
I was pleased to see a cute dog on the cover of your July/August 2003 issue and to read about HIVers and their pets [“The Truth About Cats and Dogs”]. I’ve been positive since 1987, and I believe that Penny, my miniature schnauzer, is one of the reasons I am alive today. I can see why featured dog-owner Kevin Bentley is so in love with his miniature dachshund—he’s quite a character. The unconditional love pets offer is a big plus in the lives of many folks with HIV. Without our pets, we would truly wig out!
When I first saw your July/August cover, I thought I was looking at a hideous drag queen. Then I thought I’d been accidentally mailed an issue of Dog Fancy. Try giving your cover art more consideration. How else can you expect to be taken seriously?
New York City
POSITIVE BUT NEGATIVE
You’ve uncovered the tip of a mammoth iceberg with “The Big Bang Theory” [July/August 2003]. The article about exposed seronegatives is so advanced for its time that it will unfortunately be dismissed by most readers. I was hospitalized 12 years ago for acute viral syndrome. My viral load test came back positive for HIV, though I have never generated any detectable antibodies. Whoever first correlated antibodies with infection was short-sighted.
Via the Internet
NO THANKS FOR THE MEMORY
I’m surprised at how selective Richard Berkowitz’s memory appears in his book Stayin’ Alive: The Invention of Safe Sex [“Class Pictures,” July/August 2003]. The clever writing and editing casts Berkowitz as the Joan of Arc of safe sex. As his peer, I remember others being involved in early AIDS efforts while the author was busy with hustling and drugs [as he states in the book]. I also recall his political ideas on AIDS changing like the wind. To hear him now say we should support one another has me very confused. Yes, there are many stories to be told about AIDS in the ’80s, but I advise readers to find a more credible one.
Your July/August issue was certainly a timely one for me [“Viread, Once a Wonder Drug”]. I had Viread-associated kidney failure three months ago and was on dialysis for two of those months. My kidneys have only partially recovered—and I’ve had to change my diet to such a huge degree that I can barely eat anything that casts a shadow! (Not to mention the attractive catheter hanging out of my chest.) Your article read, “Happily, the problem cases improved after stopping the drug.” Ah, but how long after? If anyone knows of resources to help get this situation under control, please share.
--Leo T. Miller
In the July/August Publisher’s Letter, Brad Peebles writes that HIV continues to spread despite prevention efforts. I’d been through years of sorting out my issues—including occasional unsafe sex and the thrill that went along with it—before I heard someone utter sex addict. The insanity of my addiction was the high I derived from risky sex without regard for a partner or myself. Sexual addiction is often neglected in preventive education because many organizations fear being construed as “sex police.” Awareness of this compulsion must be raised before we can curb the spread of HIV.
Via the Internet
DOCTORS WITH BORDERS
We are outraged that POZ could even mention, let alone support, the notion that gay male doctors should be exempt from medical conduct rules governing sexual relationships with patients [“Hitt and Run,” June 2003]. Yes, it is always wrong for a doctor to have a sexual relationship with a patient. Just because gay men have more casual sex does not exempt them from the laws of society. Gay doctors should be held accountable to the same laws as other doctors. By all accounts, Scott Hitt was an inspired doctor who paved the way for better HIV services. It just seems like he forgot his responsibility to his patients as a doctor, not as a sex toy.
--Meigan Dickinson, John MacTavish, Joanne McAlpine
HIV/AIDS Regional Services