The art of the gay cruise

PacinoCruising

Al Pacino in the film “Cruising.”

We received a booklet produced by a man named Robert Brandon Sandor, who runs a website called Poz4Poz.com, which supports a new “age of enlightenment” in HIV prevention. The self-published booklet, called The Essential Sex Venue Etiquette and Resource Guide, is basically a primer for conduct at bath houses. I imagine the pamphlet could be useful for you men entering the sex scene, but I was most drawn to a category called “Cruising Techniques.” It’s interesting to see the gay mating ritual deconstructed the way Sandor does it. Here is an edited version of his techniques (check out especially his last bit of advice):

The Look — Simply make and maintain eye contact for a longer period than usual.

The Brush Past — If someone you are interested in is standing in the hall or other public area, you could walk past and lightly brush your hand against [his] upper leg, arm or chest. If he follows — enjoy!

1, 2, 3, Turn — This is pretty much the same as cruising in the bars or on the street. As you walk [past the man you are interested in] count to three and turn to look back over your shoulder. Is he looking back at you? If he is, you can do a number of things: Stop and lean against the wall, signal for him to follow you, change direction and follow him or go into a room and have fun. Word of caution: As you are looking back, be careful not to walk into a wall or trip down a flight of stairs.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Parkland hospital targets gay and bisexual men, transgender people, with HIV prevention grants

Parkland Hospital

With new grants from the state and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Parkland hospital is targeting those at highest risk for contracting HIV — transgender people along with gay and bisexual men — for testing.

Darrel Bell, Parkland’s program manager for HIV prevention, said it may seem like an unusual role for a hospital but fits with the system’s community primary care facilities throughout the county. Several maintain specialties in HIV care.

“We’ve gotten into the prevention arena through our positives,” Bell said.

Using social networking, Bell is bringing people in for testing. He said the program is beginning with low-hanging fruit. Using incentives, he’s encouraging the partners and close friends of existing patients to be tested.

He said Parkland already serves about 4,000 people with HIV. At least half are in the target groups of gay and bi men and transgender people.

Bell said he hears a number of objections to getting tested.

“’I thought I’d wait until I got sick,’” he said is the most common, adding that this isn’t a good idea. “Don’t wait until you burn your bridges.”

—  David Taffet

Dallas Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett to participate in World AIDS Day event

Dallas Cowboys' tight end Martellus Bennett

Dallas Cowboys’ tight end Martellus Bennett will speak Thursday, Dec. 1 at the World AIDS Day event at Main Street Garden in Downtown Dallas at 7:30 p.m.

Bennett may be best known in the LGBT community for cheating on a girlfriend who had nude pics of him last year — and for making a rap video that included a gay slur the year before.

The theme of World AIDS Day this year is “Getting to Zero.” Organizers said that meant zero new infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths.

Among the other speakers at the hour-long event are restaurant-owner Monica Greene, Anthony Chisom AIDS Foundation founder Anthony Chisom, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins and Dallas City Councilwoman Angela Hunt. Openly gay Cantor Don Croll will begin the event with an invocation. Pastor Doris G. Deckard, founder of the Church of the Solid Rock, will close the ceremony. The Women’s Chorus of Dallas and the African drum ensemble from Booker T. Washington High School will perform.

Six panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt will be on display.

The Greater Than AIDS movement will set up a video and photo booth where individuals can share their “Deciding Moment” — a personal decision to take a stand against HIV and to be greater than the disease.

Local HIV/AIDS organizations and community groups will be on hand with information on HIV prevention, care, and treatment.

The event is free and open to the public. Main Street Garden, 1900 Main Street. Dec. 1, 7:30-8:30 p.m.

—  David Taffet

Need a condom? There’s an app for that

In perhaps one of the most innovative efforts to spread the idea of safe-sex and HIV prevention, MTV and iCondom have teamed up to create a worldwide map for condom distribution. The channel’s global youth HIV awareness and prevention campaign and charity Staying Alive has teamed with iCondom to “join them in their fight to help prevent the transmission of HIV by downloading the free iCondom app and providing details of their local condom dispenser / retailer.”

Georgia Arnold of MTV said, “An estimated 5 million 15-to-24-year olds are living with HIV and 2,500 young people are infected with HIV each day. We have partnered with iCondom with the ambition to make it easier for more people around the world to source condoms and reduce the transmission of HIV and STIs. A percentage of money made from the app will go towards Staying Alive Foundation grants which are awarded to young people working to prevent HIV in their local communities.”

Basically, you download the app for free and check to see where the closest condom dispenser location is. I have a guess ours is the 7-11 across the street, but I’m waiting for the app to download to see. It’s sort of like Grindr for rubbers and how many feet away they are. But then you can add to the map by entering in locations that might not already be on there. Simple, huh?

Although don’t be a d-bag about it. After loading the app, I see someone entered in the “location” title “Homeless Guy His Name is…” on Greenville Ave. I rated it one star for fail and responsibly entered the 7-11 store on Travis St.

Hey, I’m that kinda guy.

iCondom from mtv staying alive on Vimeo.

—  Rich Lopez

WATCH: Lady Gaga on self-love, AIDS prevention and her little monsters on ‘Good Morning America’

In case you were heading in to work at this time, Lady Gaga appeared today on Good Morning America. Remember, she’s the spokesperson for MAC cosmetics and discussed their work with HIV prevention, but she also talked to Robin Roberts about a few other things.

Not that we’ll post every appearance on TV by her, but I thought she was relatively poignant about working toward educating and preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS.

—  Rich Lopez

Local Briefs

AOC plans Black HIV/AIDS Awareness event in Fort Worth

AIDS Outreach Center, in collaboration with the city of Fort Worth, will commemorate National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Monday, Feb. 7, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Fort Worth City Hall, 1000 Throckmorton St.

The theme for the event is “It Takes a Village” and AIDS Outreach Center’s Prevention and Outreach staff will provide testing at the event.

In addition, on Sunday, Feb. 6, the center’s Prevention and Outreach staff will offer testing at the Christ Center Missionary Baptist Church, 2126 Amanda Ave. in Fort Worth, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Contact AIDS Outreach Center’s Outreach Specialist John Reed or Cynthia Vargas at Johnr@aoc.org or Cynthiav@aoc.org for more information.

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day  raises HIV awareness and reduces the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS within the African-American community, and encourages at risk individuals to get tested and know their HIV status to help stop the spread of HIV within one of the fastest growing segments of the population.

In 2011, AOC will celebrate 25 years as the leading organization in Tarrant and seven surrounding rural counties serving people with HIV/AIDS and their families, educating about HIV prevention and advocating for sound HIV public policy. For information, go online to aoc.org.

Dallas Pride auctioning dates, raffling dinners for AIDS Arms

Dallas Pride Cheer presents a Valentine’s Dinner and Date Auction Thursday, Feb. 10, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. at JR.’s Bar & Grill, 3923 Cedar Springs Road, to benefit AIDS Arms.

Auction items include dinner and a date with a Dallas Pride cheerleader, and raffles will be held for gift certificates for dinners for two at upscale and fine dining restaurants.

OLOUC  presents program by 3 men exonerated after years in prison

The Oak Lawn Community Outreach Center of Oak Lawn Methodist Church will host “A Community Conversation: How Can Something Like This Happen?” on Sunday, Feb. 6, at 12:30 p.m. in the church’s fellowship hall, located at Oak Lawn Avenue and Cedar Springs Road.

The event features three men who were wrongfully imprisoned and spent decades in prison for crimes they did not commit.

The three, who co-authored the book “Tested,” will talk about how they held onto hope and reconstructed their lives.
Jeff Crilley, formerly of Fox 4 News and now president of Real News Public Relations, will moderate.

This event is free and open to the public.  For more information, call 214-521-5197 ext. 203.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 28, 2011.

—  John Wright

Thanks for an amazing year at RCD

LGBT, HIV communities should be prepared for new challenges in 2011

What a year! Who could have predicted all the twists and turns it has taken, or the events that galvanized our country and united our communities?

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HELL FREEZES OVER  | A member of the Phelps clan from Westboro Baptist Church protests outside Resource Center Dallas in July. A counterprotest fundraiser organized by RCD netted more than $11,000 to buy a new ice maker for the agency’s hot lunch program. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

So much happened in 2010 involving Resource Center Dallas, and none of it could have occurred without the strong support of the HIV/AIDS and LGBT communities in North Texas.

Looking back, I am filled with gratitude and wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you. Here’s what you helped us accomplish:

• Dallas Area Rapid Transit expanded its nondiscrimination policy to include gender identity, in the wake of news stories about the discrimination experienced by a transgender bus driver;

• RCD joined forces with the Kaiser Family Foundation, Dallas County Health and Human Services, and AIDS ARMS to bring the “Greater than AIDS” campaign to Dallas, highlighting services available to people living with HIV/AIDS and promoting HIV prevention;

• DFW International Airport expanded its nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity, following a request from RCD and Fairness Fort Worth;

• A fundraising counterprotest against a “church” from Kansas brought out hundreds of community members in a rainstorm and netted more than $11,000 to buy a new ice maker for our HIV/AIDS clients’ hot lunch program;

• Following advocacy by RCD, Lambda Legal, LULAC and a coalition of other community groups, the Dallas Independent School District adopted a first-of-its-kind-in-Texas comprehensive, enumerative antibullying policy that covers not only LGBT students, but all students;

• We partnered with 138 community groups, including the Tarrant County Health Department and the Urban League of Greater Dallas, in the “Stomp Out Syphilis” campaign; administered over 3,100 HIV tests; and delivered HIV prevention messages to more than 8,600 people;

• We completed diversity training for all 700-plus employees of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage commission statewide — the first time a state agency conducted this training for all its employees;

• And, we served more than 21,500 weekday lunches and provided about 29,000 visits to our food pantry for our HIV/AIDS clients in 2010 — distributing more than 350 tons of groceries.

These accomplishments, funded while the economy remained sluggish and both the need and demand for our services continued to increase, show the generous nature and support of our communities and allies. Each and every one of you who got involved deserves recognition and a deep, sincere thank you — especially the more than 1,100 people who volunteered at RCD in 2010.

As we stand on the cusp of another year, we do not know what opportunities for change will be presented. Clearly, the political landscape has shifted, and the new realities in Washington and Austin will provide opportunities and challenges for the LGBT and HIV communities.

One key area — funding for ADAP (AIDS drug assistance programs), medical care and social services for people living with HIV — will be an issue for Texas lawmakers already grappling with a large budget deficit.

The movement toward marriage equality will continue in the federal courts, as well as state legislatures. Even though “don’t ask, don’t tell” is coming to an end, work needs to be done so that gay and lesbian members of the military can serve openly — and, there remains a prohibition on openly transgender members of the armed services.

Over the past year, the LGBT and HIV communities responded to issues as they developed. We made phone calls, wrote letters, spoke truth to power, and rallied. We donated our time to organizations quietly and without thought of recognition. We sent our dollars in to provide economic support to organizations that share our values, focus and interests.

What 2010 teaches us is that we must be ready to meet whatever challenges we encounter. Resource Center Dallas will be there, engaged on behalf of not only our communities but all North Texans. We’ll continue to develop partnerships across the region, because the issues of HIV, discrimination and equality don’t respect city limits or county lines. And, we’ll be turning to the communities again for your help and support.

Playwright and author Thornton Wilder reminds us, “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”

Throughout this year, you and our work with and for you kept us fully alive and conscious of our shared treasure. For that, and the opportunity you offer us to serve you and our communities, Resource Center and I say thank you. And Happy New Year!

Rafael McDonnell is strategic communications and programs manager at Resource Center Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Out Youth gets $25K from Sir Elton’s foundation

Out Youth Austin today announced that the organization for LGBT youth has received a $25,000 grant from the Elton John AIDS Foundation for Out Youth’s K.Y.S.S. (Knowing Your Status is Smart) program for HIV prevention, testing and counseling for young people, ages 12-19, in Central Texas.

The group received a $25,000 grant for the same program in March from the London-based Red Hot Organization. The Elton John AIDS Foundation is based in New York.

Out Youth Austin Executive Director Candice Towe called the latest grant “a tremendous Christmas present” for the organization.

Monrovia Van Hoose, Out Youth’s clinical director who oversees K.Y.S.S., said, “It’s critical that GLBTQ youth have regular access to confidential HIV testing and counseling. Staff, clinical interns and volunteers have received intensive training to provide testing and counseling for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.”

According to a 2009 report from the Centers for Disease Control, 48 percent of Americans ages 13-24 who are infected with HIV are unaware of their HIV status. In 2008, CDC noted that American youth are at “persistent risk” of HIV infection, and that many are “not concerned” about the risks of infection.

—  admin

Study: Pill helps gay men avoid HIV infection

Experts call Truvada research ‘a major milestone’ but warn that condoms remain the ‘first line of defense’

MARILYNN MARCHIONE  |  Associated Press

MILWAUKEE — Scientists have an exciting breakthrough in the fight against AIDS. A pill already used to treat HIV infection turns out to be a powerful weapon in protecting healthy gay men from catching the virus, a global study found.

Daily doses of Truvada cut the risk of infection by 44 percent when given with condoms, counseling and other prevention services. Men who took their pills most faithfully had even more protection, up to 73 percent.

Researchers had feared the pills might give a false sense of security and make men less likely to use condoms or to limit their partners, but the opposite happened — risky sex declined.

The results are “a major advance” that can help curb the epidemic in gay men, said Dr. Kevin Fenton, AIDS prevention chief at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But he warned they may not apply to people exposed to HIV through male-female sex, drug use or other ways. Studies in those groups are under way now.

“This is a great day in the fight against AIDS … a major milestone,” said a statment from Mitchell Warren, head of the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition, a nonprofit group that works on HIV prevention.

Because Truvada is already on the market, the CDC is rushing to develop guidelines for doctors using it for HIV prevention, and urged people to wait until those are ready.

“It’s not time for gay and bisexual men to throw out their condoms,” Fenton said. The pill “should never be seen as a first line of defense against HIV.”

As a practical matter, price could limit use. The pills cost from $5,000 to $14,000 a year in the United States, but only 39 cents a day in some poor countries where they are sold in generic form.

Whether insurers or government health programs should pay for them is one of the tough issues to be sorted out, and cost-effectiveness analyses should help, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“This is an exciting finding,” but it “is only one study in one specific study population,” so its impact on others is unknown, Fauci said.

His institute sponsored the study with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Results were reported at a news conference Tuesday and published online by the New England Journal of Medicine.

It is the third AIDS prevention victory in about a year. In September 2009, scientists announced that a vaccine they are now trying to improve had protected one in 3 people from getting HIV in a study in Thailand. In July, research in South Africa showed that a vaginal gel spiked with an AIDS drug could cut nearly in half a woman’s chances of getting HIV from an infected partner.

Gay and bisexual men account for nearly half of the more than 1 million Americans living with HIV. Worldwide, more than 40 million people have the virus, and 7,500 new infections occur each day. Unlike in the U.S., only 5 to 10 percent of global cases involve sex between men.

“The condom is still the first line of defense,” because it also prevents other sexually spread diseases and unwanted pregnancies, said the study leader, Dr. Robert M. Grant of the Gladstone Institutes, a private foundation affliated with the University of California, San Francisco.

But many men don’t or won’t use condoms all the time, so researchers have been testing other prevention tools.

AIDS drugs already are used to prevent infection in health care workers accidentally exposed to HIV, and in babies whose pregnant mothers are on the medication. Taking these drugs before exposure to the virus may keep it from taking hold, just as taking malaria pills in advance can prevent that disease when someone is bitten by an infected mosquito.

The strategy showed great promise in monkey studies using tenofovir (brand name Viread) and emtricitabine, or FTC (Emtriva), sold in combination as Truvada by California-based Gilead Sciences Inc.

The company donated Truvada for the study, which involved about 2,500 men at high risk of HIV infection in Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, South Africa, Thailand and the United States (San Francisco and Boston). The foreign sites were chosen because of high rates of HIV infection and diverse populations.

More than 40 percent of participants had taken money for sex at least once. At the start of the study, they had 18 partners on average; that dropped to around 6 by the end.

The men were given either Truvada or dummy pills. All had monthly visits to get HIV testing, more pills and counseling. Every six months, they were tested for other sexually spread diseases and treated as needed.

After a median followup of just over a year, there were 64 HIV infections among the 1,248 men on dummy pills, and only 36 among the 1,251 on Truvada.

Among men who took their pills at least half the time, determined through interviews and pill counts, the risk of infection fell by 50 percent. For those who took pills on 90 percent or more days, risk fell 73 percent. Tests of drug levels in the blood confirmed that more consistent pill-taking gave better protection.

The treatment was safe. Side effects were similar in both groups except for nausea, which was more common in the drug group for the first month but not after that. Unintended weight loss also was more common in the drug group, but it occurred in very few. Further study is needed on possible long-term risks.

What’s next?

All participants will get a chance to take Truvada in an 18-month extension of the study. Researchers want to see whether men will take the pill more faithfully if they know it helps, and whether that provides better protection. About 20,000 people are enrolled in other studies testing Truvada or its component drugs around the world.

The government also will review all ongoing prevention studies, such as those of vaccines or anti-AIDS gels, and consider whether any people currently assigned to get dummy medicines should now get Truvada since it has proved effective in gay men.

Gilead also will discuss with public health and regulatory agencies the possibility and wisdom of seeking approval to market Truvada for prevention. The company has made no decision on that, said Dr. Howard Jaffe, president of Gilead Foundation, the company’s philanthropic arm. Doctors can prescribe it for this purpose now if patients are willing to pay for it, and some already do.

Some people have speculated that could expose Gilead to new liability concerns, if someone took the pill and then sued if it did not protect against infection.

“The potential for having an intervention like this that has never been broadly available before raises new questions. It is something we would have to discuss internally and externally,” Jaffe said.

Until the CDC’s detailed advice is available, the agency said gay and bisexual men should:

• Use condoms consistently and correctly.

• Get tested to know their HIV status and that of their partners, and get tested and treated for syphilis, gonorrhea and other infections that raise the risk of HIV.

• Get counseling to reduce drug use and risky sex.

• Reduce their number of sexual partners.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Do you get the message?

A group out of California called the One Life Initiative has created a new video intended to encourage HIV awareness. The video is titled “Take Action.”

A press release announcing the video says: “Even though the virus continues to propagate, it is practically invisible in the mass medias. We are thus presenting a video that aims to get people talking again. The video titled Take Action has been created to resonate to people at risk, raise awareness on HIV and encourage everybody to act. We believe it is essential to share the message with all those that deem themselves invincible to HIV.”

The press release also informs us that “The One Life initiative, whose website has become a worldwide resource on the fight for HIV prevention, is supported by many communitarian organisms.”

(I wasn’t familiar with the term “communitarian.” So I looked it up. It means “of or relating to social organization in small cooperative partially collectivist communities.”)

Anyway, I watched the video, and I have to say, it left me a little perplexed. Yes, it grabs your attention. But to me, the AIDS awareness message was, at best, very vague. I wouldn’t have had any idea the video was even about AIDS without the words on the screen at the end.

So, watch the video and tell us what you think? Is it effective?

Take Action Video from One Life / Une Vie on Vimeo.

—  admin