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?
Grindr has been sharing 3.6 million daily active users' HIV statues along with other highly sensitive information with at least two outside companies. According to reports they have been sending this information to Applimize and Localytics; the information being shared was personal information (including your HIV status), along with your last tested dates.
The information was send with you GPS's data, email and phone ID; this was uncovered by Antoine Pultier a researcher at the nonprofit SINTF. “The HIV status is linked to all the other information. That’s the main issue,” Pultier told BuzzFeed News. “I think this is the incompetence of some developers that just send everything, including HIV status.” James Krellenstein, a member of ACT UP New York, calls the whole thing “an extremely, extremely egregious breach of basic standards.” Further more “Grindr is a relatively unique place for openness about HIV status,” he says. “To then have that data shared with third parties that you weren’t explicitly notified about, and having that possibly threaten your health or safety–that is an extremely, extremely egregious breach of basic standards that we wouldn’t expect from a company that likes to brand itself as a supporter of the queer community.”
But wait it gets better; Grindr has also been sharing your "tribes", sexualities, ethnicties, and relationship statues to third-party advertising companies. To make matters worse the information was send via "plain text" that can easily be hacked.
“When you combine this with an app like Grindr that is primarily aimed at people who may be at risk–especially depending on the country they live in or depending on how homophobic the local populace is–this is an especially bad practice that can put their user safety at risk,” Cooper Quintin, a senior staff technologist and security researcher at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says.
Grindr released a statement stating that the reason they are sharing your health information is to improve their app. “No Grindr user information is sold to third parties,” the company says. “We pay these software vendors to utilize their services.”
The fact that Grindr is selling the information is a issue, but they are making the information available to third party companies that is a major issue. “Even if Grindr has a good contract with the third parties saying they can’t do anything with that info,” he says, “that’s still another place that that highly sensitive health information is located.” Quintin stated, and a bigger issue is “If somebody with malicious intent wanted to get that information, now instead of there being one place for that–which is Grindr–there are three places for that information to potentially become public.”
STILL WANT TO USE GRINDR?
Karl Schmid an entertainment reporter for ABC's affiliate station in Los Angeles over the weekend came out as HIV-positive in a Facebook post that has gone viral.
Hi. I’m a 37 year old HIV+ man who has been poz for almost ten years. I work in television. And on the side of the camera where, for better or worse it’s considered “taboo” for people ‘like me’ to be ‘like me’. For 10 years I’ve struggled with ‘do I or don’t I’? For ten years the stigma and industry professionals have said, ‘don’t! It’ll ruin you’.
Schmid decided to ignore the advice and is proud of who he is and doesn't see a reason to feel ashamed or to even hide his status. “I’m me. I’m just like you. I have a big heart and I want to be loved and accepted,” he writes. “So here’s what I say, stand tall, and stand proud. You can’t make everybody happy but you can make you happy.”
He concludes the heartfelt post with a few words of encouragement for other HIV-positive people:
Love me or hate me, that’s up to you. But, for anyone who has ever doubted themselves because of those scary three letters and one symbol, let me tell you this, you are somebody who matters. Your feelings, your thoughts, your emotions count. And don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. I’m Karl Schmid, and I’m an HIV-positive man!
The support has been overwhelming and he appears to be humbled. He wrote on Twitter: “Today has been insanely overwhelming. I had NO idea that me sharing something would have such an impact. For those of you who dm’d with your stories THANK YOU.”
Anal bleaching, that's out! Gay men in Thailand are starting a new trend for their nether regions, and getting their penises whitened. Lelux Hospital in Bangkok has reported that almost 100 men have had treatment, mostly identify as LGBT.
The hospital has been known for their body-whitening services and only began to offer this unique service after a customer requested to have his package lighted, after complaining of "dark parts."
Manager Bunthita Wattanasiri told AFT that a lot of people are asking about the procedure and most clients are between 22 and 55-years old and are willing to pay about $650 for five sessions. The procedure uses a tiny laser to whiten the area. "We have to be careful because it's a sensitive part of the body and can be quite painful at times," Wattanasiri said.
After the release of a man undergoing the procedure it started to get an excess of attention. While skin-whiting services are available worldwide, Channel NewAsia has reported that it's very popular in Thailand.
So would you have this done?
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
There is no doubt that seniors in the LGBT community are isolated or discriminated. How may times have I heard men at a bar or event say "he's so old", "that man is a creep", "I would never dare be with someone that old", or even worse "he should be dead by now", "He props the bar up." No matter what is said there is this level of disrespect for seniors in the LGBT community. I've heard this 100's of time how this community is suppose to be inclusive, love one another, be there for each other, etc... And as I always say "this community is full of bullshit".
To assume that when someone reaches a certain age their no longer valuable to the community. Maybe the younger generation doesn't care to remember the past. The struggles that many in the senior community had to fight for or sacrifice. We as a community owe it to them to make sure they are taking care of, accepted, and loved. I mean when did you decide to just throw someone away because they have reached a certain age?
I came across an article Address Discrimination in Healthcare Against LGBT Elders from Within the Community, by Robert Vestees. It's an in depth look at the stigmatization LGBT seniors face in healthcare. But it's more than just health care issues that need to be addressed within the community. We have to take a hard look at care-giving issues, financial insecurity, social isolation and access to aging services.
To discard the legacy and history of LGBT seniors would be a disaster to our community. There has to be a proactive move to include senior's in our daily lives. To prove that we are more than the sum of who we are, and that we as a community take care of our own. That regardless of our age we belong, and we have value.
New Orleans is fortunate to have an organization to assist LGBT seniors. For more information contact New Orleans Advocates for LGBT Elders at noagenola.org or call (504) 517-2345.
Image purchased through istock.com and used for commercial use only.
Now I don't know about you, but I cannot stand an unclean penis. Especially if the man is uncircumcised (uncut). I mean who wants to go down there if it smells, and we have all been there. Now I understand that there are men who enjoy it unwashed, but I'm not one of them. I was surprised when someone asked me if there was a way to keep it clean. OK, after I got over my shock, I really didn't know the answer (common sense might work). Since I am cut there's never been an issue.
So in response to the question, I have put together 5 steps to keeping your Johnson clean and smelling just right! The fact that I'm even addressing this is just too funny to me, but here we go!
1. Choose a mild soap. Many soaps will contain perfumes that may cause skin irritation (sensitive skin), and some even contain cleaning agents which might be too hard to use on the genitals. For best result try using a mild, unscented soap that can be used on the body, whatever you do don't use hand soap.
3. Wash the penis. Lather up your choice of mild, unscented soap between your hands, and apply it to the testicles and shaft of the penis. The key thing to remember with an uncircumcised penis is to wash under the foreskin.
4. It is important to maintain personal hygiene, but doctors do over warn against over-washing the penis. Frequently washing, especially with soap or shower gel, can cause soreness and irritation. Therefore, you should also thoroughly dry the penis after showering/bathing. If you use talc or body powers on your testicles, resist the urge to powder the penis. Talc if it gets under your foreskin can cause irritation and discomfort.
5. Understand foreskin care. With proper care and hygiene, having an uncircumcised penis does not present any significant health problem; however, failure to clean under the foreskin can cause a buildup of oils and debris, called "smegma." Other common foreskin problems include:
Now I did consult a dermatologist to get basic information about keeping your uncut penis smelling nice, healthy and clean. For the most part it's not rocket science, and it's a pretty simple process.
Source: Peter W. Simoneaux, MD. Dermatologist. Ochsner Clinic. New Orleans, LA
Image: iStockPhoto.com. Purchased for commercial use.
All women face certain health risks. However, sexual minority women, such as those who identify as lesbian or bisexual as well as women who have sex with women, have some specific health concerns.
Although your individual risks are shaped by many factors beyond your sexual orientation and practices — including family history and age — it's important to understand common health issues for sexual minority women and steps you can take to stay healthy.
SAFEGUARD YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
Minority women are at a higher risk or depression and anxiety. Also, youth who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender have a higher risk of depression and attempted suicide.
Contributing factors include social alienation, discrimination, and rejection by loved ones, abuse and violence. These issue might be more severe for sexual minority women who are not "out" to others and those who lack social support. If left untreated, depression can lead to risky sexual behavior and a downward of spiral of emotional, behavioral, health, and possible legal and financial problems.
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS
Sexually transmitted infections (STI's) such as human papillomavirus (HPV), bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis can spread between women. Oral sex and sexual behavior involving digital-vaginal or digital-anal contact, particularly with shared penetrative sex toys, can spread infections as well.
Sexual contact is also a possible means of contracting HIV. To date there is no cure for HIV/AIDS and many sexually transmitted infections, such as HPV and genital herpes. The best way to stay healthy is to always practice safe sex.
TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS:
Make routine health care a priority. Some sexual minority women struggle to find a doctor knowledgeable about their specific health issues and with whom they feel comfortable discussing their needs and concerns. The website for the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association is one place to find referrals for doctors.
Look for a doctor who is curious, emphatic and respectful of your specific needs. Share your sexual orientation with you provider, and ask about routine screenings recommend for women in your age group; such as blood pressure, and cholesterol measurements, and screenings for breast cancer and cervical cancer.
If you're not in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship, schedule regular screening for sexually transmitted infections (STI's). Share any other health concerns you might have with your doctor as well. Early diagnosis and treatment helps promote long-term health.
Image: istockphoto.com. Purchased for commercial use.
Source: Conhran, Susan, Ph.D. "EPublications." Lesbian and Bisexual Health Fact Sheet. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 16 July 2012. Web. 01 May 2017.
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.
Growing up in the gay community body image is a major factor in today's health-conscious world. Since the start of social media, we have been sharing just about every aspect of our live, not just with our own network of friends, but colleagues, acquaintance, as well as with thousands of total strangers.
Let's be honest with each other, most gay men don't like their bodies very much, which might seem surprising giving the amount of time gay men spend at the gym. Gay men probably devote more time and effort cultivating a physical since than any other demographic group. I appears that gay men tend to dislike their physical appearance are gay men.
So why does this happen? Social media has made our culture a sexualized subculture that places a premium on physical beauty, and the media appears to bombard us with images that reflect and impossibly high standard on physical beauty.
Research has shown that second only to women, gay men suffer from dysmorphia - a preoccupation with some imagined defect in appearance when the person involved is actually very "normal looking". Places where gay men socialize especially bars, gyms, or sex clubs, often emphasize physical attributes or make those the first criterion for checking someone out. It’s difficult for someone who is older than a certain age or different from the prevailing cultural standards of beauty to catch someone’s eye in a bar or club. This has the sad and unintended consequence of leaving some gay men in the social binds most familiar to teenage girls – obsessed about their appearance and feeling like their locus of control lies completely outside of themselves.
If you have trouble accepting your body, there are steps you can take to improve the situation. First, take the concern seriously. Don’t confuse who you are with how you look. Develop a sense of identity based on all of your attributes and on your values. Put your body back together. Consider stretching, yoga and massage as ways to help yourself feel like more than just “skinny legs” or “love handles.” Indulge in body pleasures – long baths, massage, good sex, a walk in the park on a sunny day. Make your own list.
Learn to appreciate body types in all shapes and sizes. Stop trashing men who don’t conform to the “buffed” image. Seek alternative role models. Don’t emphasize body size or shape as an indication of a man’s worth or his identity as a man. Learn to value the person inside. Pay attention to the images used to promote products in our community. Notice the way physical beauty is used to push sales or manipulate us. Talk about this with your friends, too.
And finally, confront homophobia, including internalized homophobia. Don’t accept being treated as a second-class citizen by straight society or by other gay folks.