1. BEAHBEAH says

    I’ve watched the changing attitudes towards this disease over the years, and it’s downright disturbing. I keep hearing the same excuses, “medication has gotten better,” “people with AIDS live a lot longer than they used to…” One of the stupidest things gay people ever did was forget about AIDS.

    I think this PSA is pretty bad, not because of the content, but the production values and especially the voice over. Sounds like a trailer to a bad action movie.

  2. says


    but till the moment the couple agrees to monogamy and both get tested etc….condoms should be used. Then yeah monogamy is the best way to prevent the spread of HIV

  3. ggreen says

    Yeah because using shame, guilt and fear worked so well the first time around. Gays were shell shocked buy the constant barrage of negative and preachy messages in the 1980s that made HIV seem inevitable and described gay sex as “play” with calls for “playing safe”. After all these years can’t someone come up with a more effective and long lasting way to send this message of risk and responsibility? This thing plays like a Fox news hype of the week.

  4. Boxerdad says

    Can someone here speak to the prevalence of anal cancer among HIV positive men? My direct experience with HIV is very limited, but in all these years, this is the first time I’ve heard that statement. Therefore, it has the ring of something Tony Perkins would state rather than the ring of truth, and, I think, weakens the impact of message while at the same time stigmatizing the disease.

  5. Brian J. says

    Boxerdad….anal cancer is thought to be caused by HPV, the human papilloma virus. This is the same virus that infects women and potentially causes cervical cancer. There are dozens of sub-types of HPV, some causing genital warts and in others cancer. Even typical warts on one’s hands are a variant of HPV.

    In immuno-compromised men and women, HPV is harder to contain. Once contracted, HPV remains in the body for life potentially causing potential problems, however a healthy immune system can usually keep the virus from manifesting symptoms. Some people are even fortunate enough to completely eliminate HPV from their bodies, but that is usually the exception.

    In men with HIV, the immune system is overtaxed fighting HIV. As the immune system begins to fail, and opportunistic infections set in, if that individual has previously contracted HPV, he risks it reemerging from its controlled dormant state into something considerably worse. Like cancer.

    This can be said for HSV as well. (The herpes virus) People with HIV who also have HSV can run the risk of the herpes virus becoming more of a problem too. (Like herpes induced meningitis)

  6. ophu says

    @ Ty: I’m pretty sure that “good old fashioned monogamy, guys” will work about as well as “abstinence only”. There is no substitute for a condom.

  7. jamal49 says

    My best friend who is HIV+ and diagnosed two years ago with AIDS saw this on Tuesday night and nearly lost it. He was so disturbed and became so despairing that he asked me, “Why am I taking all this medication if I’m going to get dementia or anal cancer or osteoporosis? I’m screwed no matter what I do. What’s the point of all this?”

    Since then he has been as depressed as I have ever seen him. I suggested he consult with his primary care physician about this ad. I am trying to encourage him, keep his spirits up, but this ad really got to him.

    We’ve gone through a couple of very rough years and almost a year ago, he turned a corner mentally and physically. Now, after viewing this ad, he’s almost back to square one–at least, mentally.

    It’s a shocking ad, that’s for sure. I hope no one else has been so deeply affected by this ad like my dear friend.


  8. Rob says

    I am very sad for your friend, Jamal. He will have struggles, but needs to live to face them, and will live much better on treatment than without it. Life with HIV, warts and all, is better than not living- where we will all be soon enough.

    We deliver two very contradictory messages about HIV. One is that there is hope and treatment and we need to support those affected, another is that one really, really needs to avoid it. I am an HIV negative gay physician, whose teenage son just came out, and I’m worried.

    I am distressed by those eroticizing and romanticizing “barebacking,” especially among the young, and am very worried for my son. Next to suicide, it’s my greatest fear. I will show this ad to my partner but I wonder if my 14 year old son is ready for it. Probably better to make the point in a less dramatic way, as he is struggling with ostracism already, and wonders what his future holds. Will keep up with the “It Gets Better” videos. (An answer to a prayer.) Very interested in other comments on this provocative ad.

  9. ratbastard says

    Is the ignorance surrounding HIV and AIDS among of all people gay men that bad, even after all this time? OF COURSE it’s still a deadly illness! There are very advanced TREATMENTS for it, especially compared to the first 10 years or more of the virus outbreak when it was an automatic, painful and fast death sentence, but it’s still only treatments, not a cure. And the treatments involve taking a cocktail of drugs that in and of themselves have negative side-effects, in addition to being very expensive. And of course the bodies immune system is badly compromised, which is how the cancers, infections,skin disorders,etc., develop. This is a shock or news to gay men, in America, in 2010? Holy crap.

    Anybody watch, read, hear about the male porn actor who has contacted HIV/AIDS? Performed in both str8 and gay porn. After his FIRST porn job he had contacted gonorrhea, chlamydia, and herpes! Now, after only being in the business a short time [where he didn’t use condoms on some occasions and barebacked], he’s HIV+. You know better, engage in stupid reckless shit like barebacking with strangers or with those you know have a high probability of being diseased, you might as just as well put a gun to your head.

    I watched a porn clip a few days ago and it was PLAINLY obvious one of the dudes had gonorrhea of the mouth [an example of the law of unintended consequences and HD video]. And he then barebacked! And they both used poppers. Both guys were otherwise very good looking, young healthy [on the outside] looking dudes. I watched for 2 minutes with morbid fascination.

  10. GregV says

    I think the ad’s answer is too simplistic. People are always being told to “always wear a condom” to prevent both pregnancy and STD’s, especially HIV.
    I have some issues with this message:
    One issue is that people need to realize that there are all kinds of ways to get off with someone, and some of them involve a relatively low or even zero percent chance of either pregnancy or HIV.
    People can choose what kind of sexual activity they will have with someone (based on things like risk factors), and also should never feel pressured to have any kind of sex with someone when they don’t want to. “Always use a condom” subtly suggests there are no other options than having risky sex with whoever wants it from you.
    Another problem is that condoms alone are not a great solution. Condoms AND lube AND not proceeding without replacing a condom if it breaks would be an improvement. But I know plenty of women with unplanned kids who received the same message to “always use a condom” and ending up saying, “I guess it broke.”
    Another thing: you know FOR SURE that both partners have no STD’s (i.e. you’ve been monogamous with each other for long enough and have both been tested afterward), then a condom won’t be necessary, unless you just like wearing them.

  11. scott says

    Negative reinforcement only changes behavior in the short run. It’s like trying to scare teenagers into driving safely by showing them footage of bad car wrecks. After around 3 weeks – the lesson is pretty much forgotten. These ads have to use positive reinforcement that make HIV- people good about safe behavior, and won’t make HIV+ people despair about their lives.

  12. Boxerdad says

    Thank you to Brian and Maxx for the info and link. I don’t want to minimize the very real risks of anal cancer for HIV+ men, but I do think the PSA paints a misleading picture. I conclude from reading the article Maxx linked to that the risk increases by a factor of 2 for MSM who are poz vs. MSM who are negative, not a factor of 28 as the PSA implies. Is the cost of such sensationalism worth sending Jamal’s friend and others like him into deep despair? Not if there are other, more honest ways to get the message across.

  13. kimosabe says

    This ad stigmatizes HIV positive men. There is already too much AIDSphobia in the community. This ad makes younger low information gay men FEAR contact with HIV+ men.
    This ad should not be shown.

  14. Brian J. says


    I am currently HIV negative. I’d like to stay that way, and I practice safer sex religiously, however I realize that being sexually active no matter how safe I am could result in an accident, a slip up, a moment of bad judgement and so forth. I’ve been there and have had my share of scares. But we’re human beings and therefore prone to mistakes. Scaring the bejesus out of someone for their mistakes will only move a person into living their life out of fear which usually means more mistakes, depression and self image problems.

    Whether you’re positive or negative, contracting HPV isn’t that difficult. In reality, more gay men are exposed to HPV than HIV. Your HIV sero-status is only really an indicator as to how well your body will ultimately deal with the virus. HIV negative people can still get HPV induced anal cancer… but poz folks face a greater risk of HPV going out of control. Whether it’s 2x greater or 28x greater I’m not really sure. The problem with statistics and odds is there’s a different set of numbers for whichever political party is trying to make a statement. All we can do is know that poz people face a greater risk of developing anal cancer IF they have HPV.

    Personally this ad gets me a little upset. Yes…all these things can happen to you if you have HIV. But lets look at the “noble” brother of chronic diseases….Cancer. If someone contracts cancer that’s a horrible thing too…and the drugs you take to treat it can eat you alive but with cancer your socially forgiven because you didn’t do something “shameful” to get it (or maybe you did but its still better to be a smoker or have some other vice that contributes to cancer rather than being a filthy homo).

    What this ad accomplishes is a demonization of people with HIV and reasserts that if you do something wrong and get this disease your life will be without hope, you’ll die a horrible death, and if you must partake in shameful sex use a condom or you’ll get what you deserve.

  15. Depressed says

    As someone who is newly infected with HIV and just starting taking medication, I had a similar reaction to that of Jamal’s friend; this has completely ruined my day. Thanks Towleroad.

  16. Tell It Like It Is says

    This ad is certainly depressing. I can see where it would really affect someone who is already HIV+ and cause them intense despair.

    At the same time. It is true. Taking that many medicationd for the rest of your life is no field day for the human body. A lot of drug companies do the opposite by advertising HIV drugs with shiny happy smiling people obviously not suffering any side effects.

    Regarding anal cancer – HPV has already been proven to increase the risk of anal cancer. And I would bet most sexually active men, gay and straight, have HPV. The fact that HPV has been so ignored among men is pretty bad. You hear about it a lot moe regarding women for obvious reasons – cervical cancer. But men should be treated for it too. Of course, it is too late for all of us to get the vaccine that is available for many strains of HPV.

    Anal cancer carries a lot of stigma. Farrah Fawcett had it. It was speculated it wa slinked to HPV but never mentioned or brought up in interviews, I’m guessing largely because of the stigma attached to it.

  17. Rick S. says

    “There is already too much AIDSphobia in the community.”

    If there is so much alleged “AIDSphobia” in the gay community, then why are HIV rates soaring? The CDC recently released a survey that revealed in 20% of gay/bi men in major U.S. is HIV+, with a full half of those not even aware.

    Yes, this is ad is depressing, because THE FACTS IT BROACHES ARE DEPRESSING.

    Sorry guys, I am 47, and I was there the first time around in the 1980’s, when the initial reaction in “the community” was to excoriate the messenger (be it Randy Shilts, the CDC, or the New York Times) as well as to second-guess the message (“they’re exaggerating! It’s all hype!”). That is, until the body count became too high to ignore…and suddenly everybody was blaming Ronald Reagan for acting with the same jejune denial about AIDS that the gay community initially did.

    HIV is especially high with gay men under 30, but from what I’ve been observed, these same kids who are so casual about barebacking and other risky behaviors will shun guys who are commendably out in the open about being HIV+. There is something wrong with this picture.

  18. Brian J. says

    Safety and awareness “fatigue” is certainly a problem. Whether its fighting HIV or making sure you put on your seat belt….over time the message is either integrated into one’s psyche or its not. Teaching someone to “enjoy” putting on a seatbelt rather than showing them gory details of not doing so may not work in the short term, but as someone said here…scare tactics only work in the short run.

    I can’t even imagine driving my car without a seat belt, but it took me a couple of big accidents to really drive that fact home for me. I wish people didn’t have to learn by experience, but unfortunately that tends to be more common than not.

    The other issue I find are men over the age of 45 who pretty much ignore safe sex. Many think….even at 45, if I contract the disease now I’ll still live into my 60’s or 70’s which is where many of them expect to die of natural causes anyway. So why fight it? HIV meds are capable of extending live out to an average of 25 extra years or more rather than the original 8 to 10 average life expectancy rate after initial diagnosis.

    For me, I can deal with the bodily issues of taking toxic drugs for the rest of my life, what gets me more is the emotional stigma attached with contracting HIV. Ads like this one don’t make it any better.

  19. Depressed says

    @Brian J. “HIV meds are capable of extending live out to an average of 25 extra years or more rather than the original 8 to 10 average life expectancy rate after initial diagnosis.”

    You’re not helping any. Life expectancy can approach normal rates now, thanks to early diagnosis, access to medications, and healthy lifestyles. Throwing out an arbitrary number like 25 years just makes you look stupid.

  20. Brian J. says

    Oh and here’s some more of my “stupid” evidence:

    Each of these articles quote with potential ARV medications an individual can POTENTIALLY extend one’s lifespan up to 22-25 years or potentially more.

    Does that mean everyone will benefit that long? No. Does that mean people can relax? No. ARVs are no picnic, but with proper nutrition, exercise, and supplements a person with HIV has the POTENTIAL to live up to that amount of extra time.

    While I don’t agree with ads like this…you’re the one who’s not really helping here. People have to be shown that there is hope and there the possibility of living a fairly normal life after being diagnosed.

  21. Depressed says

    My point is that HIV negative people like you just assume that all HIV positive people like me are going to die before you, and that we all have an average number of years (25) left until we die. Each person is different. It’s not fair to any of us to throw around an average number of years. Like I said, it all depends on how long we’ve been infected until we are diagnosed, our access to medicine, and our lifestyles. No one knows when any of us is going to die. If you were positive, you’d hate coming on here and reading some of the ignorant comments that I’m reading today.

    By the way, that article you posted sounded pretty awful and insulting… Saying that HIV positive people are a strain on the rest of the country because our meds are too expensive..? Please.

  22. Boxerdad says

    The larger point I was attempting to make is that by over-hyping the message, the PSA has the potential to lose the audience for which it is intended. Young gay males aren’t going to listen to health advice that sounds like it was designed by the Family Research Council.

  23. Vince in WeHo says

    I can’t argue the effectiveness of this ad or a more positive one. But, if this were an anti-smoking ad, would we be considering the feelings of smokers who develop lung cancer? Just wondering.

  24. Donald says

    Maybe ads like this should instead show perfectly healthy looking people climbing mountains and out on dates! Since scare tactics don’t work and we certainly don’t want people already infected to feel bad about the poor decisions they’ve made in the past. So let’s make an ad that says something like, “being HIV+ isn’t the best thing, but it’s not the worst either.” That way no one is offended.

  25. Brian J. says


    No I don’t assume anything like that. I could die tomorrow for all I know. The articles posted are quotes stating the potentiality of extended heath. Something poz people should appreciate in hearing. Just because I list an article that includes a realistic analysis of the cost factors involved in treating HIV doesn’t mean I personally feel poz people are a burden on the health care system any more than cancer patients are.

    I’m sorry that you’ve been diagnosed. But I’m just simply stating the facts. You can wallow in depression as long as you want. I however refuse to do so. Oh, I may be negative but that doesn’t mean HIV hasn’t affected me through my friends.

  26. Depressed says

    @Vince: You’re right. I got HIV even though I used a condom with everyone I was with. However, now that I have HIV, I should have to be subjected to false statistics, horrifying imagery, and people trying to tell me that I should have been more careful, even though nothing can change the past. And now I have to be compared to smokers who get lung cancer. Thanks.

  27. lazlo says

    I think beyond the ads and PSA’s, we need parents to have open welcoming conversations with their kids at an early age. My parents never talked to me about anything. Just “Don’t you get HIV!” We need comprehensive sex education in schools. We need to address the issues of depression and ostracism (fueled by our anti-sex/anti-gay society) which leads to risky behavior. The glbt community at large could do a better job at outreach also. For the longest time I’ve never truly felt a part of the community and it took forever to find real friends in addition to a bf. Sometimes we’re just as cruel to each other as some straight people.

  28. Craig Mingus says

    Come April 29th I will have had HIV for 15-years and have gone from taking 36-pills a day to 1-pill a day to help my immune system. I have sustained a lot of discrimination amongst the HIV- gay community for being so honest about my HIV status. I am not ashamed of having HIV and I am just done with all the “bitching” about “condoms don’t make me feel this” or “oh poor me ’cause I got that”.

    Take some responsibility for your life!

    If you are sexually active then you should either be asking your partner/one-night stand/trick/whatever when the last time he was tested for HIV and STDs. If you don’t ask then you should be smart enough to assume that person has everything and you should be using protection to protect yourself.

    If you are sexually active then you should be having anal Pap smears (yes they exist) to test for HPV because prevention is key. You should also be tested for HIV every 3-months if you are sexually active as well.

    If you are in a committed relationship then you should be open with your partner, and responsible enough, to let him know if you slept with someone else. That way you won’t give your partner (the supposed person you love) a potential life threatening disease.

    It’s time to toss the shame out the window, time to stop the wasteful complaining and just be responsible. Is this PSA the best? Maybe not. But it is getting you to talk and getting people’s awareness. HIV does exist and there is no cure but only manageable treatment.

    You may be a mess with your own life but DO NOT go and mess up another person’s life by your lack of responsibility.

  29. Vince in WeHo says

    @ Depressed.

    I made all of the “right” decisions in my youth and my life did not turn out anywhere near where I had hoped either.

    My best friend is HIV+ 14 years. HIs life certainly isn’t easy with no health insurance and having to be on meds. But he is one of the happiest people I know. I would be lucky to have 1/10th of his attitude and outlook on life.

  30. kimosabe says

    @ craig mingus
    “You may be a mess with your own life but DO NOT go and mess up another person’s life by your lack of responsibility.”
    Typical blame the victim mind set.

    These younger guys don’t know what it is like to lose all of your friends.

  31. -DC05- says

    No, it’s not too depressing…it’s REAL.

    Let’s for ONCE get logical instead of emotional about this disease. We so fear offending ourselves that we don’t want to protect ourselves. After so many of our very own have been affected by this disease, we should have a more healthy grasp on it than ANY other demographic and yet recently the rates are skyrocketing, ESPECIALLY with young gay men. That is inexcusable!

    Before you glamorize HIV to help those who have it feel better about their condition, it is no careless matter. It IS a serious disease. I’ve seen a friend become a walking patient….every day of his life. Life as you know it changes, and changes drastically once one becomes positive and that is a FACT. Anyone who tells you otherwise does not at all have your best interest at heart and is trying to glamourize the disease.

    It’s time we start getting brutally honest about this crippling problem in our community and that requires telling our young gay men the seriousness behind the disease and what life is like upon getting it. Feel abruptly sick (your meds don’t stop from getting random sickness, pain, feeling ill) …your immune system takes a heavy toll. Your body sometimes feels to be a shell of itself. Those are the facts.

    I’m sooo disheartened by those of you who are HIV positive who could use your status as a symbol to advocate health, responsible choices, and educate our community and instead you’re too focused on not hurting feelings, your own or someone else’s. Well guess what, you could be saving LIVES.

    Fear and education are not one in the same, but ignorance and burring our head in the sand and not talking about it will lead to the non existence of our community.

    This is a crying shame and very few gay people want to sit down and have a serious conversation about it!

  32. JaySmith says

    I can’t believe some of these comments. No wonder 1 in every 5 gay men in large cities is positive. People discussing HIV prevention is now offending those whom have HIV? Well, what would you rather do? All of us become infected so we can adopt an ignorance is bliss mentality. the selfishness displayed in these commentary is revolting. HIV and every life altering disease is not as predictable as you think. It IS a choice disease. It is not a random air born disease that comes from out of nowhere, and considering how heavily it has disturbed our population, you’d figure we would have prevention down to an art. Instead, 30 years since the alarming outbreak and we’re sitting here either A.) Being asked to talk about the POSITIVE aspects to it or B.) Not talk about it at all.
    HIV is no fun. It is nowhere near as manageable as those who are promiscous and want a license to be reckless desire for it to be, and if you want to hand your life to a disease that controls your livelihood, energy, health and wealth…go for it. Don’t request the rest of us adopt that same non chalant attitude.
    LGBT lost too many lives from this disease, and still does today for us to not be talking about HIV and it’s side effects.

  33. Redgreen says

    umm I don’t blame people for being cautious, for having concern for themselves before empathy for someone who is positive, for talking about the grim realities before talking about how “great” life is with AIDS or HIV. there’s nothing great, or fine, or enjoyable about having any disease, especially one that aims to deminish your immune system unless you take pills that diminish every other aspect of your body. ain’t nothing cute or fun about that. if some of y’all had it your way, it’s sounds like we’d all be positive just so we can all be equal and not offend anyone. misery sure does like company.

  34. Rick S. says

    Well, put me in the same camp as DC05, Jaysmith, and Redgreen. There is absolutely no way you can sugarcoat the grim reality of HIV.

  35. Chloe says

    The adult film performer Derrick Burts who tested HIV-positive wishes he had known more about the risks of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. He share his blogs and stories at the largest hiv community It is a really very sad news.

  36. Hank says

    Is increased risk of anal cancer really the most medically and statistically significant health risk associated with HIV? Or just the most graphically sensational?

    This ad clearly attempts to manipulate men who have sex with men by invoking shame , fear , and “gross -out” about anal sex, thus tapping into one of the most potent of the cultural taboos that feed homophobia. It also leaves people confused ( as some of the posters here are noting ) about what their real risks are, because it doesn’t give useful rational information, ( for instance about HPV and HPV prevention- which is vaccines , not condoms- instead deliberately confusing HPV and it’s effects with HIV.)


    It is hard to believe that the city really thinks that trying to misinform, shame, terrorize, and disgust msm who may not have access to other information into ‘always using a condom’,( which 15 years of prevention research worldwide has shown is too simplistic and uninformative to be an effective , realistic message anyway) is going to support them to take better care of their sexual health and their partners’. I find this ad to be a shockingly irresponsible , hateful, and destructive way to address men who have sex with men .

  37. James says

    @JaySmith: Really? REALLY?! It IS a choice disease?? Why don’t you tell that to the gay man who’s been in a committed relationship with his partner, only to find out that his partner has been cheating on him, so now HE has the disease. Why don’t you tell that to the woman who’s husband is on the DL, and she gets it from him? Or why don’t you tell that to the child who had absolutely NO choice in the matter, because he/she got it from birth. Sometimes I really wish people like you knew what those blanket statements feel like when it comes to this disease.

  38. GregV says

    Hank makes a good point about the HPV vaccine. It is quite ridiculous for medical professionals to have been so far mostly recommending it for only females when it will obviously protect males as well (and by protecting males, it will also protect those males’ partners, whether they are male or female).
    I don’t know anyone really well who is HIV+, but I have a friend who had risky sex once in a drunken moment of poor judgement. He took the cocktail for sevral weeks afterward because his doctor told him it could help ensure he would not be infected.
    My friend told me that the experience taught him that taking those drugs is no picnic. He felt lousy the whole time.
    And that reminds me, does anyone actually ever learn in “comprehensive” sex education about options like this? Who ever thinks to go to the doctor if they have slipped up, in order to get treated promptly?
    From what I gather, having HIV is in this era something like having diabetes. It changes a person’s everyday life permanently because of the constant monitoring, adjustments and complications you have to deal with, but life can go on.

  39. ratbastard says


    It is NEVER a good idea for anyone…man,woman,heterosexual,homosexual,bisexual, to engage with multiple sex partners, stranger hook-ups, and to not be very careful with the type of sex practiced. Anal is particularly risky. The anus isn’t and wasn’t designed for shoving things up inside it and it easily tears and bleeds. Oral sex is also more risky than many think. The mucous membrane of the mouth is easily damaged and bleeds, making for easy blood transmission. Unless you REALLY know somebody well and REALLY trust them, everyone should always use the protection that’s available, such as condoms, which do help tremendously in lowering the spread of disease.

    Many who engage in a lifestyle of regular multiple sex partners, cruising, etc., also abuse alcohol and drugs, both of which of course damage the body’s immune system, making coming down with various illnesses, contracting disease more probable. Such people with weakened immune systems are also natural incubators disease and viruses, and unfortunately many go on to spread and infect others, knowingly or unknowingly. No one reading this can deny there’s a big problem with lack of stability and grounding in many gay mens lives as far as lovers and sex partners is concerned, there’s a greater amount of [for lack of a better, less negatively judgmental term] promiscuous activity vs heterosexuals, and a bigger problem among gays of substance abuse and various mental health issues that negatively impact a persons thought process. These things when combined are a perfect storm. From anthropological, biological, psychological, and sociological standpoints, it’s no mistake this deadly virus and the illnesses and disease it causes it’s victims centers on gay men and originally exploded on the scene among gay men.

    The real tragedy of AIDS was it was never treated as a public health hazard the way it should have been. It became highly politicized and co-opted into the gay rights movement. Certainly, if it had primarily affected straights, it would have been treated as a simple public health issue like syphilis has been since at least the 19th century. No one [to my knowledge] ever questioned the aggressive and graphic public health warnings and other aggressive tools that were used to combat syphilis from the late 19th century well into the 20th. Nobody ever said [to my knowledge] no, we don’t want to hurt the feelings of people who have syphilis, so we better more kind and PC with our warnings.

  40. ratbastard says


    Another thing to consider is it’s EXTREMELY expensive to treat. I know cost in a perfect world shouldn’t be an issue, but we don’t live in a perfect world and it is an issue. HUGE sums of money are spent on researching hiv/aids, developing treatments and treating patients. A whole big industry has been built up around it, and much of the research funding is publicly financed.

  41. HealthWorkerNYC says

    I agree that the ad was poorly executed, but I think it’s important to remind young people that even though we can manage HIV, it’s still a lifetime diagnosis with serious consequences. Making people aware of the higher risk for opportunistic infections that comes along with HIV is important, and it is not the same as stigmatizing those with HIV. America’s youth should be better educated about the realities of dealing with HIV and frankly, I’m glad NYC is taking a step in that direction.

  42. says

    When you have Herpes (HSV-1, HSV-2), HPV (Human Papillomavirus), HIV or any other STD, it can make you feel like you are all alone in the world. Do you wish there was a place where you didn’t have to worry about being rejected or discriminated? is a warm-hearted and exclusive community for singles and friends with STDs. Here you can get on with your life and meet new friends, partners or potential spouses. You can also learn about STD medical treatments and information, or find someone to talk to or offer help and advice.

  43. billmiller says

    Some of us are well informed, others live their lives on net info. Not all of any of it is accurate, but too much static, lies, and bad information is available as truth on the internet. I was diagnosed late and strted treatment with out of this world numbers(experimental trial drugs+combivir) about 10 yeears ago. I have lost many friends and aquaintences since the late 70’s/ early 80’s. I came out in the early 70’s Philly/NYC corridor. Ground zero on the east coast for early AIDS losses. I’m on combination therapy now with Atripla, it has been over four years and I’m in great health and my numbers are great! Longevity runs in my family, and I have no idea how long I will live. I do not worry about it. All of us need to make every day an advenutre and live our lives! What is the point of worrying about something that may or may not happen? Bill at mechanicbill55/gmail you want to talk, contact me! Happy Holidays and Love to All!!

  44. Vince in WeHo says

    There’s a wrecked car being exhibited on the corner of San Vicente and Santa Monica in WeHo.

    As someone who texts and drinks while driving, I am offended by this display. It’s just way to rash and insensitive.

  45. Hank says


    Yes there are big problems in our community with mental health, substance abuse, and destructive/self-destructive behavior. My point is that activating shame about anal sex, which I believe is this ad’s tactic, will only make that worse. Men who have sex with men need comprehensive realistic information about health risks, not shame and confusing scare tactics. Fifteen years of prevention research globally, about what works and what doesn’t, tells us this. My biggest concern is not that the ad is insensitive, but that it is actually counter-productive in the effects it may ultimately have on the risk behavior of men who might not be accessing a lot of other information.

  46. Dan says

    Why are we not making sexy safe sex advertisements? Are we only allowed to try to scare the sh* out of people – which incidentally has been proven over and over not to work. The only thing we increase this way is stigma. We need to make sure that people understand that safe sex can be sexy. We used to be able to deliver that message – for a short time back in the 80’s and early 90s till the super-conservatives knocked it out. Now our mainstream orgs are too afraid of losing their funding to put out materials to that effect. God forbid we should have a sex-positive safe sex campaign that does not divide our community into clean and unclean.

  47. says

    An excerpt from my analysis (found in full here: of the three arguments most commonly marshaled to defend these ads, and then a review of the scientific evidence to evaluate them:

    Argument 1: Young Gay Men Aren’t Scared Anymore

    Response: Perhaps – and We Should be Thankful It’s So!: Younger gay men may well be less fearful of HIV, though the evidence to support that assertion is shaky. What we know is that most HIV-negative gay men are already scared to some degree of HIV infection — but perhaps its not to a threshold satisfying to a different generation that lived through a time when treatment was not available, and when HIV was indeed a terminal illness. It is of course thankfully not a terminal illness for those who have access to medication anymore. As a so-called “younger” gay man myself, I want to take a moment and explain why it’s not acceptable to be mad at young gay men for not being terrified of contracting HIV. The implication here is that you wish our friends were still dying so we’d be a bit more scared. I’m glad my friends are alive. I’m thankful that my HIV-positive mentors, colleagues, friends, tricks, teachers, and past lovers have access to ARV treatment that keeps them alive and healthy. And doesn’t it make intuitive sense that a terminal illness would be scarier than a chronic disease? We know this from research in the risk sciences! HIV as a chronic disease is less scary than HIV as a terminal illness. Obviously. And we should be absolutely thankful that this is the case.

    Argument 2: Using Fear is a Necessary Tool to Induce Behavior Change

    Response: Evidence Shows Fear Doesn’t Change Behavior: Underlying this argument is the notion that fear will in fact result in behavior change. But what we know is that fear campaigns are only persuasive to men who are ALREADY using condoms. Fear is not effective at encouraging men not using condoms — presumably the population this ad is intended to impact — to start using them. Moreover, research has shown that fear is especially ineffective at persuading young gay men, and only tends to persuade older gay men. So again we have evidence to conclude that this argument is ill-founded.

    Argument 3: Fear is the Only Way to Change Behavior:

    Response: Culturally Sensitive, Relatable Approaches Actually Work There are many different ways to communicate effectively about HIV risk: inducing the fear of God is not the only option. I don’t have time to relay to you all of the things that work in prevention, but I do want to highlight one that is useful in rebutting arguments in favor of this ad. Research has shown that prevention works best when its approach is relevant and culturally sensitive. There are a litany of studies to back this claim up. Gay men have friends who are HIV-positive, and their bones aren’t shattering before our eyes and their asses don’t resemble something from the SAW franchise. The images included in this ad are just not relatable — they’re the opposite. Prevention should take the community’s experiences as a starting point, rather than forcing down our throats some horrifying alternate reality that just doesn’t exist in our lives.

  48. Throbert McGee says

    This ad clearly attempts to manipulate men who have sex with men by invoking shame, fear, and “gross -out” about anal sex

    Without the contribution of anal sex — that is, if virtually no gay man ever had anal sex, and if “fellatio all the way to swallowing” were therefore the highest-risk sex act that most gay men ever engaged in, the AIDS epidemic among gay men would’ve been smaller by at least an order of magnitude. That is, the infection rate and death toll would have been 1/10th of what they actually were. Mind you, there are some medical experts who believe that fellatio transmissions likely account for perhaps only 1% of HIV cases in the male-to-male demographic, rather than closer to 10%. So if the “1% of cases were spread by fellatio” estimate is correct, then in a world where gay men never had anal sex and fellatio was the only transmitter, the gay AIDS epidemic would’ve correspondingly claimed only about 1/100th as many lives as it did in our world.

    In short, no HIV-prevention campaign need apologize for deprecating anal sex — especially considering that any such deprecation of anal would merely be competing with the vast ocean of “anal-friendly” messages in gay male media.

  49. Throbert McGee says

    Dammit. The following sentence at the beginning of my comment was a quoted passage from someone else, and not my own words:

    “This ad clearly attempts to manipulate men who have sex with men by invoking shame, fear, and “gross -out” about anal sex”

  50. Poz and still not dead! says

    HIV does suck for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being that gay men who test poz are continuously subjected to the sort of blinding sanctimony displayed here. As someone who always wore a condom and never detected a break, I have to emphasize that nontraditional infections…through oral sex, breaks, slips, sabotage, cheating partners, one off mistakes or whatever…are very real. As a result, it really could happen to any one of you jerkwads. Yes, that means YOU, Safety Queen. Telling gay men “wear a condom or get dementia” doesn’t change anyone’s long term behavior. Anyone stupid enough to ignore the very obvious physical, social, economic and emotional consequences of HIV before isn’t going to be scared straight by New York’s attempt to make infection into a horror movie. What it does is draw a line in the sand between supposedly conscientious negative gay men and the raving morlocks who presumably chose to cross that line. A more nuanced truth is that HIV rates in the gay community are stratospheric, and will continue to climb, because there is, for lack of a better phrase, a high degree of ambient infection which makes it difficult to avoid. The virus basically sits and waits for the mistakes and arrogance which are part of the human condition. This is why whispers of lifetime infection liklihood for gay men were around the 50% range even before rates started to skyrocket. You know that Chlamydia your cousin got because she was too naive to demand a condom, or that case of herpes your brother got because he got drunk at the bar? That child your neighbor had, despite using condoms? In your case and mine, its just as likely to be HIV. Asking us to “protect” ourselves by completely submerging our sexuality or treating our bedroom like an operating theater has been about as effective as one would expect. Commercials like this only reinforce the false dichotomy which leads to infection by convincing gay men that condoms are THE answer when they are not. It makes poz guys afraid and embarassed to disclose or get tested. It compels those who want to be risky to dismiss the very real complications of HIV as the ravings of hysterical lunatics as soon as they realize that the disease doesn’t immediately, or even necessarily, result in bone loss, dementia and anal cancer. Saying “gay men today need to fear HIV” is simplistic, and it doesn’t really address the problems and the stigma that this commercial creates. Instead, it makes excuses for them. Poz gay guys hear enough excuses for why we’re stigmatized. We don’t need to pretend that its a prerequisite to stop 19 year olds from living like its 1975.

  51. Derrick from Philly says

    Thanks, POZ.

    I had hesitated to comment on this topic back in December because I was ambivalent about what good the commercial would do. And I was angry because I felt the commercial made people like me look nasty, but that was too simple-minded for me to say. You just expressed with far more intelligence what I was feeling.


  52. says

    we have all lived with this beast in our community for 30 years …. in all this time I have never heard of anyone having anal cancer albeit quite graphic ..

  53. asm says

    My partner is a long-term survivor with HIV and has been on meds now for over 15 years.

    Yea, without the meds, he would be gone by now.

    But by now, even with the meds, the disease has crippled him physically and he has pretty bad dementia. He’s exhausted all the time, feels sick all the time, hardly can leave the house.

    Great…he can live a long time, but what about the quality of his life?

    Great…a treatable disease now, but who wants to live this way?

    Yea, we don’t need shame about sex, but barebacking seems more prevalent than ever. Sometimes, fear is a good motivator.

  54. krissy says

    It should be directed at gay and straight, men and women. Straight people especially have a sense of complacency.

  55. Harry M says

    Try posting some truth that is what needs to happen. They make it seem like this is a direct cause of being Gay and it isn’t. HIV doesn’t give a damn about what gender you are. It spreads through multiple means from sexually to sharing needles. Stop portraying this as a gay thing.