I can see why somegay people living with HIV would hide their status [“Bite the Bullet,”August 2005]. I disclose freely, but I have felt more discriminationfrom the gay community than I would from any Christian fundamentalist.I try to persuade others to be more open about their status, but I feellike I am fighting a losing battle. If you want an example, check outthe 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 expectfrom the rest?
Mypersistent opposition to anal intercourse without a condom is not“anti-PWA rhetoric,” as “Bite the Bullet” asserts. The fact that as ajournalist I have publicly opposed unsafe sex for 20 years does notmake me an opponent of people with HIV. It makes me an opponent ofspreading this disease.
New York City
“Bitethe Bullet” falls into the very trap that it should point out when itstates that 5% of HIVers may be fueling most new infections. The vastmajority of new infections in the U.S. come from newly infected peoplewho do not know they have HIV and have unprotected sex when their viralload is skyrocketing. It is much easier to blame those who do knowtheir positive status than it is to challenge the way we think aboutHIV transmission and restructure prevention models to target theuntested. Most prevention efforts are still addressing the problem interms of either “you have it and you know it” or “you don’t have it atall.” Most people who know they are living with HIV and what thatentails naturally would not wish it upon anyone else.
Thank you for “The Glove Comes Off in Mixed-Status Love” [August 2005]. Ihave been HIV positive for over 15 years and recently got into acommitted relationship. Even after squeaky-safe sex, I am haunted bythoughts that I could have done something to expose her. Sometimes shegoes down on me and swallows. We’re in love, and it can be easy tothink that beautiful expression is enough to keep you safe, but that isa dream. Sorting out fact from fiction and the dream from reality isall that any couple can try to do to be comfortable and safe. Yourarticle helped us to talk about things in more depth, face some fearsand ultimately to get closer—and that’s what it’s all about.
Iadmire your sex columnist Dr. Perry Halkitis for his boldness inadvising serodiverse couples. He said it all when he wrote, “If you canbalance risk with desire for physical and emotional connection, you canreach a mutually respectful conclusion” concerning unprotected sex. Iappreciate the information that researchers agree an undetectable viralload 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
Theparagraph angles in “Bite the Bullet” are annoying and red type on grayor blue backgrounds simply is not readable. I truly look forward toreceiving POZ but don’t want to have to turn the damn thing sideways toread it. You don’t need these eye-catching distractions to getattention. The disease and all the issues facing HIVers get yourreaders’ attention. Save the gimmicks. Put out POZ for those of us whoare struggling every day to take our meds, learn the latest treatments,fight adverse reactions and live in a politically charged society thatis ethically and morally fighting us at every turn.
Iwant to thank you for your redesign of the magazine and website. Thesite is considerably more useable and stylish, and the magazinecontinues to lead the way in great design that increases the impact ofthe messages and stories of the sheroes/heroes profiled. I use yourmagazine in the desktop-publishing classes I teach, and my students arealso huge fans. Last, thank you for always giving a voice to HIVers whowould otherwise not be heard.
New York City