Grindr is trying to handle the negative publicity over sharing users' HIV data. The popular hookup app has announced plans to remind users to get tested for HIV and has offered free advertising to clinics and LGBT centers that provide free testing.
HIV is still considered a global epidemic, there has been a rise in sexually transmitted infections that can be tracked to the uses of PreP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), a drug taken once a day and when property used is almost 100% effective in preventing HIV transmission. Doctor's still caution patients to use condoms while on PreP, however, many gay men treat it as license to throw caution to the wind and just have bareback sex.
A stark report completed by the University of California of Los Angeles (UCLA) found a direct link between the use of PreP and a drastic increase in STI's. To make matters worse most gay men believe that STI's and HIV can be easily cured. For example, herpes cannot be treated with antibiotics, and some infections are now developing resistance to antibiotics, such as "super gonorrhea," or multidrug-resistant gonorrhea.
So if Grindr is interested in the health of the LGBT community then shouldn't they focus on STI's as a whole and not just HIV? The plain fact remains that while people will get tested for HIV and community centers many gay and bi men still define 'disease" in terms of HIV, while the STI's issue just remains in the background.
But issues with Grindr don't just stop there (along with other hook-up apps), as most of these apps pride themselves on shirtless (sometimes nude) photos men, might contribute to high rates of depression, body sysmorphia, and eating disorders to 3.6 million users (Grindr).There are a few professional studies that have been conducted to offer analysis and the effects of gay social media sites on mental health. But since most funding goes to HIV research very little finds it's way to other LGBT public issues. Grindr could in effect pressure medial professionals to study LGBT health on a broader scope.
With millions of users worldwide, Grinder has positioned itself to broaden the framework of LGBT health and address issues that might never receive attention.
SO, will Grindr step up to the plate and open honest dialog about STI's within the LGBT community or will the app just ignore it?
Three porn actors two men, and one female have claimed in a Federal law suit that they contracted HIV in 2014 while filming scenes for Kink. U.S. District Judge Dames Donato granted the insurance company a summary judgment saying a physical-sexual abuse exclusion "exempts the insurer from covering claims arising from sexual activity," according to a report in the Courthouse News. The three actors are being represented by Atain Specialty Insurance.
According to one of the actors now retired stated he was infected while filming "Bound in Public" in 2013. Another performer claims that while filming at the Armony in San Francisco, he was blindfolded and required to perform oral sex with dozens of men of the general public - "they were untested, unidentified members of the general public." He tested positive two week later. However does admit he had a cut in his mouth at the time of filming.
“The language of this exclusion is not ambiguous in the context of this policy and the circumstances of this case,” Donato wrote in his 6-page ruling. “Because the contractual language is clear and explicit, it governs.”
In a statement to Courthouse News Karen Tynan attorney for Kink.com in 2015 “None of these claims were made at the time of the shoots, and are easily refuted both by detailed shoot records, our testing protocols, and the video footage itself."
I am sure there are many points of view regarding "bareback", "risky" porn. What are your thoughts?
h/t: Courthouse News
It has always been my opinion that perception is everything when dealing with how people look at one and another. Being gay this is even more important. General society has a wide and varied looked at how we live our lives. When talking about circuit parties that are very popular within the LGBT community, understand that I am not placing everyone in the same "boat", however to deny that sex and drugs run rampant at most circuit parties would be a lie.
I began to think about this topic quite by accident. While talking about circuit parties with a good friend (who travels to many of the circuit parties) we were on the topic of drugs and sex and he stated "I don't think you realize how expensive circuit parties are, how much sex and drugs are available at most of them. It's not something to idealize." What he told me had me thinking, how bad could it really be? You have to understand I live in New Orleans, and one of the South's largest circuit parties is Southern Decadence. Some will yell and scream "it's not a circuit party? Or "You don't know what you're talking about?" Regardless this is my opinion, you don't have to agree or like it, but then ask me if I care?
So, having frank conversations with friends who routinely travel to party weekends like Up Your Alley in San Francisco, the White Party in Miami, or Southern Decadence in New Orleans. I realized that my friends were mostly urban, white, and sexually adventurous. These events bring together sex, music, travel, and the unspoken promise of party drugs. Most circuit parties give a percentage of their funds to LGBT organizations. But if seen as a business - which they are - these events drive a global industry catered exclusively to gay men with deep pockets. The LGBT organizations have no problems accepting the money raised. I do understand that for most this is a major source of money. However, when you try to teach and preach safer sex, HIV education; you in my opinion become a hypocrite.
In the United States, the general public has embraced the monogamous, family oriented image of gay men. But the homophones of American who opposed anything gay just have to glace behind the "black curtain" of these parties and see hundreds of gay men engaging in different "cultural traditions - one that would surely affirm all their ugly prejudice. For example during Southern Decadence you want sex, it's not hard to find. A few of the bars/clubs have no problem with men having sex there, just spend your money. I mean the police at one bar are no more than 20 feet.
These parties can be overwhelming. You discover that party drugs have a nasty habit of increasing sexual risks, you realized that you have paid large fees to get in only to be disappointed., you come to understand that your need to be around other gay men has been manipulated and banked on.
"I remember the last time I stumbled out of a circuit party in New York City at 6 in the morning, trembling and sweating, so fucked up I could hardly speak and walk. In that moment, I felt like a child playing a man's game - or, more accurately, a man being childish". Personal Quote
For example a federal study last year of 6,000 men who attended circuit parties (Southern Decadence, Folsom Street Fair, Hustlaball) found that 95% took at least one illegal drug, 68% reported to having unsafe sex with someone they did not know, 89% abused alcohol, 74% used "poppers", 52% admitted to having a "gang bang", 33% reported they blacked out.
Regardless of how you feel about circuit parties the fact that they raise large amounts of money for LGBT organizations, and have a huge impact on the local community. Many cities report that they have very few issue with party-goers, and don't see a increase of crime. According to local law enforcement they will see an increase in hustlers, drugs, and rape. Local hospitals might see a spike in ER visit; mostly for alcohol, and drug overdoses.
"These parties are creating (HIV-positive) clients," said Troy Masters, publisher of LGNY, a gay newspaper in New York City that has opposed the parties. "You wouldn't find the American Cancer Society throwing a smoking party". A number of charities and public health officials are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with what has become the "dark side" of circuit parties: widespread drug use and random, unprotected sex the very issues they try to discourage. These concerns have lead major HIV/AIDS service organizations to try and detach themselves from the controversy by allowing the parties to be run by promoters, who take a cut of the proceeds and send the rest to the charities, and in some cases charities are worried about the public perception that they support and condone the behavior, and therefore, trying to remove themselves from the party entirely.
For some in the LGBT community circuit parties are a source of great fun, can be liberating, but they do come at a price. Is that cost worth it? We make our own choices and decisions regarding our lives and how we live them. For me personally, what other people do with their life is their own business, if it doesn't concern me I don't care. But you can't pretend or ignore that circuit parties have a darker side, it's just a fact.
Images: istockphoto.com Purchase for commercial use.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV Surveillance Report, 2014; vol. 26.. Published November 2015. Accessed 14 Apr. 2017.
Mattison, Andrew M., Michael W. Ross, and Tanya Wolfson. "Circuit Party Attendance, Club Drug Use and Unsafe Sex in Gay Men." Circuit Party Attendance, Club Drug Use, and Unsafe Sex in Gay Men. Journal of Substance Aguse, 01 Sept. 2015. Web. 14 Apr. 2017.
Weidel, James J., Elias Provencio-Vasquez, and Janet Grossman. "Sex and Drugs: High Risk Behaviors at Circuit Parties." American Journal of Men's Health. Mens' Health Network, 22 July 2013. Web. 14 Apr. 2017.
How much would you be willing to bare, with regards to sex? Barebacking is not always black and white, especially when situations and/or individuals involved change. If you're having anal sex with a regular sex buddy, or a steady partner, chances are you've been faced with this decision to either bareback or not. The choice to have unprotected anal sex can have lasting effects on your life and future, and can increase your chances of contracting or transmitting HIV or numerous SDI's (STD's).
So the question to ask is why men would have unprotected sex? There are several possible reasons:
Now one could argue that there are benefits to having bareback sex, such as increased sensation in the penis, closeness to a partner(s), or increased spontaneous. Regardless of your personal view, it's a personal choice, and anyone who is going to engage in unprotected will do so regardless of the risk.
But what if both partners are negative? Well, this is a personal choice. You might want to look into the use of PrEP, this might be a good choice for both partners to use. The downside of using PrEP is that it's expensive (covered under most insurance and medicare plans), there could be side effects, and long-term kidney or liver effects as well. It's important that you consult with your personal physician. Only a certified physician can prescribe the drug, and you should have routine checkup.
Always remember that keeping open and honest communication is important in any relationship. Get tested regularly and together. And remember that other pesky bugs beside HIV, so get tested for other STI's as well. Be clear about each other's expectations, and for the sake of your partner(s) always be honest and open about your status.
So regardless if you're in a relationship or not, you enjoy "playing the field", engage is risky sex practices; these are your choices, and no one should have the right to decide for you what is safe or not. Just be aware of all the risks and get tested!
KNOW YOUR STATUS: GET TESTED TODAY!
I remember hearing the term GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency) like many people I didn’t know what it meant. Only that it was taking the lives of many gay men throughout the United States. When I ventured to my first gay bar (Bourbon Pub & Parade) like many there was little medical information and no federal funding; it was a death sentence. Therefore, I understood the importance of protecting myself and to believe that most men might or could have this disease. I don’t recall when I first heard the term HIV/AIDS, but I remember that it replaced the term GRID. My Uncle Peter (family friend) also told me “protect yourself at all time, nobody else will”; I have just always remember that quote from him.
NO/AIDS Task Force for as long as I can remember has always been around, the first in New Orleans to establish a telephone hotline/ community outreach (1983), distribution of condoms/ HIV testing and counseling (1985), case management, support groups, substance abuse/ mental health counseling (1990); just to name a few of the many services that they provide. This agency has been in the forefront of HIV/AIDS testing, prevention and services. It is their belief that it is important to reach as many people in the New Orleans community as possible. Considering the New Orleans metro area and Baton Rouge has the highest HIV/AIDS rates per capita in the United States according to the CDC (HIV Surveillance Report, Volume 27), New Orleans Metro Area ranked 2nd, and Baton Rouge Ranked 3rd.
When you think about the high levels of HIV/AIDS just in the New Orleans area you can see why agencies like NO/AIDS spends an enormous about of time and resources helping those in the community. However, there are several roadblocks that prevent them from reaching more within the community; lack of education, social stigmas, cultural differences, and inadequate/unstable funding sources. NO/AIDS relies on the generous support of the community, and corporate donations, and hold several events throughout the year to not only raise money, but awareness. Now for many it was assumed that NO/AIDS was either taken over or merged with CrescentCare of New Orleans, but in fact it has always been a part of the NO/AIDS Task Force; NO/AIDS simply changed their name to CrescentCare.
CrescentCare provides medical assistance to anyone regardless of their ability to pay. Their services are vast; from primary medical services, dental care and even behavioral health.
Because of CrescentCare they now have access to more federal grants and funding. Which is a huge help in the fight against HIV/AIDS and STI’s. According to their website they also provide HIV and STI testing, PrEp, case management and support services (food pantry, home delivered meals, housing, legal services and much more). Currently they serve more than 5,000 people each year and 30,000 with HIV and STI prevention education.
It’s hard to believe that the NO/AIDS Task Force has been providing needed services for more than 33 years, it is the largest provider of HIV/AIDS medical services in Louisiana and the South. Their commitment to the community is unwavering, and as the health care of the community changes so does their mission. As we wait and watch to see what happens with the ACA (Affordable Care Act), many people are concerned with how they will receive medical services or medications; CrescentCare is dedicated to be there for the community regardless of what happens to the ACA, and is aware of the high anxiety in the community about the possible repeal of the ACA. Augustin Correro of CrescentCare said it best “it’s been a long road, and we still have much work to do within and for the community”.
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All images are property of CrescentCare/NO/AIDS Task Force and cannot be copies/reproduced without written permission.
"HIV Surveillance Report, Vol. 27. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 03 Jan. 2017. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.
Nail, Rachel. "The History of HIV and AIDS in the United States." Healthline. N.p., 30 Nov. 2016. Web. 13 Feb. 2017.
"NO/AIDS Task Force." NOAIDS Task Force. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.
Thwe, Min. "HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention in Myanmar." AIDS Education and Prevention 16.Supplement_a (2010): 170-77. Web.