I can see why some gay people living with HIV would hide their status [“Bite the Bullet,”August 2005]. I disclose freely, but I have felt more discrimination from the gay community than I would from any Christian fundamentalist.I try to persuade others to be more open about their status, but I feel like I am fighting a losing battle. If you want an example, check out the often cruel gay online profiles. “Disease-free seeks same,” “HIVneg seeks same,” “Clean, you be too.” Since when did we become dirty?If we cannot get compassion from our own community, what can we expect from the rest?
My persistent opposition to anal intercourse without a condom is not “anti-PWA rhetoric,” as “Bite the Bullet” asserts. The fact that as a journalist I have publicly opposed unsafe sex for 20 years does not make me an opponent of people with HIV. It makes me an opponent of spreading this disease.
New York City
“Bite the Bullet” falls into the very trap that it should point out when it states that 5% of HIVers may be fueling most new infections. The vast majority of new infections in the U.S. come from newly infected people who do not know they have HIV and have unprotected sex when their viral load is skyrocketing. It is much easier to blame those who do know their positive status than it is to challenge the way we think about HIV transmission and restructure prevention models to target the untested. Most prevention efforts are still addressing the problem in terms of either “you have it and you know it” or “you don’t have it at all.” Most people who know they are living with HIV and what that entails naturally would not wish it upon anyone else.
Thank you for “The Glove Comes Off in Mixed-Status Love” [August 2005]. I have been HIV positive for over 15 years and recently got into a committed relationship. Even after squeaky-safe sex, I am haunted by thoughts that I could have done something to expose her. Sometimes she goes down on me and swallows. We’re in love, and it can be easy to think that beautiful expression is enough to keep you safe, but that is a dream. Sorting out fact from fiction and the dream from reality is all that any couple can try to do to be comfortable and safe. Your article helped us to talk about things in more depth, face some fears and ultimately to get closer—and that’s what it’s all about.
I admire your sex columnist Dr. Perry Halkitis for his boldness in advising serodiverse couples. He said it all when he wrote, “If you can balance risk with desire for physical and emotional connection, you can reach a mutually respectful conclusion” concerning unprotected sex. I appreciate the information that researchers agree an undetectable viral load makes a person less infectious. Also, you featured a POZ Personals“Catch of the Month.” Well, I have found my “Catch of a Lifetime” through POZ Personals. I am forever indebted to you.
Tennessee Colony, Texas
The paragraph angles in “Bite the Bullet” are annoying and red type on gray or blue backgrounds simply is not readable. I truly look forward to receiving POZ but don’t want to have to turn the damn thing sideways to read it. You don’t need these eye-catching distractions to get attention. The disease and all the issues facing HIVers get your readers’ attention. Save the gimmicks. Put out POZ for those of us who are struggling every day to take our meds, learn the latest treatments,fight adverse reactions and live in a politically charged society that is ethically and morally fighting us at every turn.
I want to thank you for your redesign of the magazine and website. The site is considerably more useable and stylish, and the magazine continues to lead the way in great design that increases the impact of the messages and stories of the sheroes/heroes profiled. I use your magazine in the desktop-publishing classes I teach, and my students are also huge fans. Last, thank you for always giving a voice to HIVers who would otherwise not be heard.
New York City