A year of writing for Xtra Newspaper and what that was like
It has been a year since my first column came out. It is time to talk what has and has not changed in that year.
Know the risks of HIV transmission got lots of attention, and some professionals in the field of HIV did not like it. I only quoted Spectrum Health’s website for the data, but people who did not like what I said about risks attacked me but not the 10 doctors at Spectrum who specialize in the field. Interesting I think.
PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxes) seemed to stir some interest. Although BC is generally advanced in addressing HIV issues, we are backward in addressing PEP. Guys can be kept from getting HIV by going to the Hospital emergency room and getting PEP. But BC is slow to act, now that is about to change. In the next few weeks PEP will be available to guys who feel they were exposed to HIV. The wheels move slowly and every day more guys are needless infected by HIV, but finally PEP will be available soon!
What happened with the condoms? Well I was told by the media person at BCCDC that a committee decides on which condoms will be bought, I was told that I would not be told who is on that committee and I would not be told what goes into making a decision. But now there are new condoms provided for the public. I manufacture of these condoms claims that they exceed the US and International standards for condoms. The only criticism I have seen about the new condoms it that they may be a bit small. Now the HIM clinic at 1033 Davie gives out larger condoms and non-latex condoms.
Where is the wart vaccine? I am told that the BC Cancer XXX will be recommending that the wart vaccine become available for males. I talked to a doctor in the field and he said that if he were again out on the sex market he would get the vaccine because it has few side effects and help a person immune system cope with the wart virus. A very nice nurse took the time to review my article and point out places in my article that were unclear and could have presented the issue more accurately.
Loneliness feeling disconnected. Well this one seemed to get the most positive reaction for people. It seems though that most people could identify with the problem. But most people in the helping business seemed to miss my point that though there are many activities for gay guys to participate in, there are reasons they don’t. People are less likely to attend group discussion than a course where because of shyness (or whatever). I called for courses to help guys address their isolation but people seemed to respond with the same programs that are out there.
I expected a lot of reaction to HIV immunity but it seemed like interesting information at people took in to use as they might.
How often should you get tested? Well BCCDC is working on a policy about how often gay guys should get tested. I think that risk based testing as well as routine testing is the best answer. IF you have a risk then get tested, if you tend to be a bottom who has lots of sex then your routine might be every 2-3 months, if you tend to be a top than every 3-4 months get tested. We will see what BCCDC has to say eventually.
Now for some personal reflections about this column. Not everyone likes what I say here. I was surprised how intensely some people will react to me voicing my opinion. I think I am a bit naive about this, but I did not expect some of the reactions I got. Someone lobbied Xtra to have me fired, I felt bullied by someone. Some professionals started talking about me being mentally ill in an apparent attempt to discredit me. One person hit me, though it was not an assault it was harder than necessary just to make a point. And there were many guys who will come up to me and tell me how much they enjoy what I write about. I hope it is useful and gets discussion going about important topics for our health. My goal is to create a healthier and happier community for us all.