Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New Era of HIV prevention needed.

HIV prevention has had two previous "eras" of prevention. When HIV/AIDS first broke, the primary message was "don’t get HIV or you’ll die." This era was before the time of effective medication (pre-1996). Once the field discovered some basic medications, the second era of HIV started where prevention attempts had an implicit assumption that we would be able to eradicate the spread of HIV.

However, today we need a third era of HIV prevention and I honestly don’t have the answer on what the new era should look like. We need an approach that affirms the importance of HIV prevention without using fear as the primary motivator. We also need to acknowledge the reality that HIV is no longer considered a deadly illness but is now a chronic illness. Don’t get me wrong; HIV is extremely serious, but, we might be able to learn from other prevention programs, smoking for example, in developing better HIV prevention.

We also need to see risky sexual behaviors as a symptom rather than the problem. Co-occurring problems such as drug and alcohol use, mental health concerns, sexual compulsivity, and poverty are but a few of the related issues that need to be addressed in prevention.

Please don’t start a flame-war by attacking other respondents, but I’d like to hear from you.
How do you think our community should move forward?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The dilemma of outing "closeted" LGBT

A few of the stories in the recent posts highlighted how individuals were outed to help them in the coming out process: friends and/or family members told other people to "help them along." To someone in the closet regarding his or her sexual orientation, the biggest fear is the exposure of the secret. This is known as "being outed.” Simply the fear of being outed has sent more than a few individuals back into the closet.

The rise of outing people partially occurred in the 1980s in response to the AIDS epidemic, particularly when "closeted" individuals worked against the best interests of the LGBT community.

Much of the current debate, and one which the paparazzi feeds on, is the fascination the general public has with people's sexuality. Adam Lambert is a very recent example of this. Throughout his time on "American Idol" questions about his sexuality were raised not only on individual blogs but also in the mainstream press. The recent Rolling Stones article highlights the culmination of the process where Adam Lambert responds to the ongoing reaction. The dilemma raises the question of whether or not a public person like this has a "right" to privacy.

The biggest reason against outing others is their right to privacy. When a person is outed his or her privacy and freedom to chose the method of coming out is violated. In the first article in this series, I highlighted how the coming out process is a personal process that should reflect the individual’s needs. Outing ruptures this process and can interfere with his or her personal growth.

One of the justifications for outing people, so the argument goes, is because of hypocrisy. For example, in 2006, Ted Haggert was publically outed for same-sex behavior with a sex worker. At the same time, Ted Haggert was the senior pastor at a fundamentalist church that was outspokenly anti-gay and openly hostile to the gay community. The argument is that because of the hypocrisy, he deserved to be outed. Haggert is but one example, and the list could continue.

What are you opinions about outing people? Have you been outed? What was the outcome?