Aiden Shaw Pan Club
I don’t understand POZ’s fascination with Aiden Shaw (“Shagalicious Shaw,” August 1999). You would think that a magazine with your popularity could interview someone who is a more positive (no pun intended) person than an ex–porn star. In my opinion, Shaw’s views about AIDS are not worthy of print and his lifestyle is not one to brag about. The “I don’t give a shit” attitude is a very negative one to portray. If POZ can’t find better people to interview or better topics than “Is there life after porn?” then I suggest printing a blank page.

Trace Baxter
Wilmington, Delaware

A Thorny Issue
The cover of your August 1999 issue featuring a construction by Barton Benes was haunting, artistic and moving. The “Crown of Thorns” was very dramatic in a way that cuts right through you. I loved it.

Kim Jackson
Alexandria, Virginia

Adult Entertainment

Because we’d been hoping that POZ would broaden its attention to in­clude a more diverse representation of those living with HIV, we appreciated both the July and August 1999 issues.

Quite honestly, our first reaction to your August issue was one of complete surprise. We both sensed an in­crease in the level of maturity represented by much of the writing. Don­ald Suggs’ real­­­istic “Net Serve,” River Hus­ton’s refresh­­­ing celebration of Dawn Averitt’s life in “Trail­blazer,” Chand­­ler Burr’s infor­­­m­ative “The AIDS-Friend­ly HMO” and David Groff’s magnificent “The Curious Closets of Barton Benes” represent an examination of the overlooked and less glamorous aspects of HIV’s im­pact on our society. The July Africa issue directed our attention to the needs of others affected by the virus around the world that aren’t being met.

We want to express our gratitude for your recent efforts. We hope POZ continues to be influenced by this maturity.

Roger Banks
Richard Dumas
Via the Internet

Group Therapy
“Bug Bugaboo” (August 1999) was a very good article, up to a point. It disturbed me that only some of the treatments for par­­a­­sites were discussed. There are more drugs out there than we Ameri­cans are led to believe—just because a drug has not been ap­proved by the FDA doesn’t mean that it’s been dis-approved by the FDA.

I’m a big proponent of using nontoxic natural alternative substances before resorting to pharmaceuticals, but when it comes to parasites, one day on the antiparasite Fasigyn (tini­dazole) to treat giardia sure beats six to eight weeks on an herb remedy that may or may not work. Surely nothing is guaranteed, but we deserve to at least know all the options. Many drugs available overseas are pharmaceutical grade and have been approved by local government regulators and/or drug administrators. U.S. citizens are free to travel abroad and bring into this country up to a three-month supply of any treatment that we and our doctors deem necessary for our health. Trips abroad might be extravagant for a $15 box of pills, but that’s why there are buyers clubs that allow for cheap and easy access.

To find out about other antiparasite drugs and how they work, call the Network at 800.734.7104.

Mark Miedzokowlski
PWA Health Group
New York City

Obit Crit
My congrats to you on the fine obit regarding my late partner, John Horn (August 1999). One minor correction: He was 56 when he died, not 64.

Rich Magilli
New Orleans

Mind Your Behind
I want to reiterate how important it is to have check-ups for anal lesions (“Smear Cam­paign,” August 1999). I was having anal problems for almost a year before my doctors took me seriously. Finally I got an anal Pap smear and the results came back as suspicious. When I was sent to a surgeon for a consultation, he said that almost all smears come back as suspicious because of bacteria and such.

I then had a colonoscopy, and my biopsy results came back as dysplasia (pre-cancerous). I was advised that a follow-­up would be scheduled in six months as there was no need to put me through the discomfort of surgery at that time. I told the surgeon that I was already in discomfort and if surgery would benefit, I’d like to take care of the problem immediately. So I had surgery, and two weeks later the pathology results of the removed tissue came back as cancer. My next step was radiation therapy to my anus and the lymph nodes of my groin.

I was fortunate that my persistence caught the cancer before it spread. I have been lesion free for about eight months, and I strongly urge anyone at risk to get a check-up because surgery and radiation are a pain in the ass.

Tony Austin
Treasure Island, Florida

Let Him Eat Cake
Boy, did I feel stupid as I tried Florent Morellet’s recipe for orange cake in your August 1999 issue (“Someone’s in the Kitchen With…”). Before I throw out the mess in this bowl, maybe you can tell me how much flour, baking powder and baking soda go into the cake. It smells wonderful.

Marc F.
Via the Internet

Florent Morellet Responds:
You may have been confused because the recipe is for “orange cake,” and when most of us hear cake, an instinct from some deep, collective primeval kitchen overcomes us—and we can’t help but reach for the flour, baking powder and baking soda. I understand your panic, but if you had taken a deep breath and followed the recipe, you would have poured that big mess—sans flour, baking powder and soda—into the dish, put it in the oven—and voilà! You could have had your cake and eaten it, too.

Small World, Big Hug
I am very thankful for POZ’s Africa issue (July 1999). It looks beautiful, and it has something on Kenya in particular. I am very happy and proud about it.

Esther M. Oloo
Kenyan Ministry of Health

Congratulations on your coverage of AIDS in Africa. It rates among the best I’ve read thus far about health crises on the continent.

Barbara Gomes-Beach
Executive director,
The Multicultural AIDS Coalition

Everyone at my work has a copy of the July issue. The special articles on Africa are very informative. It is so nice to hear that there’s something positive happening in other countries on the continent.

Sandile Walter Ntshakala
Family Life Association
Mbabane, Swaziland

The Africa issue was a marvel—filled with information most of us in America don’t typically get.

Larry Cross
Via the Internet

I applaud you for the Africa issue. POZ successfully highlighted the enormous contrast between our world and the Third World. And the photographs were great, too! I was slow to respond because I read every page and every word.

Bob Hergenroeder

Thank you so much for the Africa issue. The most important aspect was the attention given to ensure that the voices of Africans were heard. Too often, reports fail to reflect the point of view of the person about whom the information is provided. It is especially painful when this happens in the HIV community.

Steve Wakefield
AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition

Thanks for the Memory
On the occasion of your fifth anniversary (May 1999), I’d like to take the opportunity to say well done, congratulations and thank you.

I especially want to thank you for articles by Andrew Sullivan and Larry Kramer. They are, to me, the voices of reason and outrage—two qualities needed to meet this pandemic head-on. Both writers assure me that we are still fighting and moving forward in our struggle.

As someone who’s been dealing with this disease for 19 years, I’ve also found comfort in the lab reports that Sean Strub so selflessly shares. Thanks to your publication of the reports and the lucid commentary by doctors, I’ve had a relatively easy time reading my own reports and having informative and compassionate discussions with my doctor about treatment options.

And finally, thank you for the nostalgia of remembering those who have left us. Though I cried when I saw David Fein­berg’s name in the May issue, I was pleasantly reminded of the times my lover, Jim Lewis (author and former Body Positive editor), and I would go to AIDS fundraisers or be walking on the boardwalk on Fire Island and hear David call out, “Look, it’s the blond WASP boys!” Jim died six months before David, and I’m sure that wherever they are they’re arguing about literature.

Thanks for an issue that brought back the days of joy, love and struggle. Keep up the good work of keeping us focused on what’s going on so we can resist this pandemic.

Anson Hedges
New York City

Ain’t Too Proud to Neg
While I’m HIV negative, I am an older gay man who works with PWAs. Your magazine helps me to do a better job because it is very educational and enlightening. I read many HIV publications, but yours is the best by far. And though I may not always agree with what I read, I find POZ challenging and stimulating. Please never hesitate to take on controversial issues.

Edward J. Shields

I’m a newcomer to POZ. It’s one of the best magazines I’ve ever read. I am not HIV positive, but I have a friend who is and I’ve been reading up on the virus to understand it better. POZ mesmerized me, and I want to turn others on to it.

Terri Davis
Texas Department of Corrections

The Hills Are Alive
My applause to POZ for giving voice to a population that would otherwise be forgotten. Your publication is the only source of updated medical information for many men and women who are incarcerated. Thank God people do care!

Veronica Flournoy
Bedford Hills
Correctional Facility
Bedford Hills, New York

I have been HIV positive for more than 15 years and in prison for five and a half. The stigma in here is so high that it’s disgusting. I picked up POZ last year and I’ve learned so much from it. I read POZ to lift my spirits, and then I send each issue home to my family and friends to show them that this disease is no joke.  

Josie Joey
Bedford Hills
Correctional Facility
Bedford Hills, New York

Wayne’s World
I’ve been receiving POZ for about three years, and I find it to be very informative and helpful. As a man living quite successfully with AIDS, I look forward to each issue. POZ always has interesting articles on the current state of AIDS, with the Gazette news section being my favorite.

Wayne Mancuso
New Orleans