AIDS/HIV Hub




Jack Mackenroth's Shower Selfie Challenge Raises Funds And Awareness for HIV/AIDS - VIDEO

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Hoping for a viral sensation like the ALS ice-bucket craze, Jack Mackenroth is stripping down and soaping up for a challenge of his own: the shower selfie. Mackenroth, known as much for being a reality star as he is for his AIDS activism, has started an online campaign encouraging people to take sexy (but PG-rated) shower pics and then challenge three friends to do the same, using the hashtag #weareALLclean.

“I was inspired by the use of the word ‘clean’, especially common in gay culture, to describe oneself as STI/STD free. Indirectly this implies that HIV-positive people are somehow ‘dirty’”, says Mackenroth about the campaign which he kicked off this week with his own sudsy selfie. It's all part of a two-pronged effort he hopes will remove the stigma of HIV while also raising money for AIDS care and research through donations to Housing Works.

Mackrenroth has set up a page on the Housing Works website where you can donate directly to the campaign, which he hopes will raise one million dollars. While it's a lofty goal, it could happen if it takes off like this summer's ALS challenge which went super-viral and ended up netting over 100 million for the Lou Gehrig's disease charity. Mackenroth is working with the gay social app Moovz where people can post their pics, or just use their own accounts on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

So far he's enlisted sexy singer Chris Salvatore and model/activist Colby Melvin, who have already posted their shower pics online. You can check them out AFTER THE JUMP...

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For Most Gays, The Golden Years Are Looking Something Less Than Golden: VIDEO

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Kathy Murphy stands to lose $600 a month because the Social Security Administration refuses to recognize her marriage to her late wife.

Murphy, who recently lost her wife to breast cancer, lives in Texas, and the SSA currently bases eligibility for spousal benefits on laws in states where same-sex couples reside.

She recently filed a lawsuit against the SSA, and now she's among the subjects of a new Associated Press video report, focusing on why gays and lesbians are woefully unprepared for retirement. 

An AP study found that the average gay couple has $66,000 saved for retirement, compared to the average straight couple's $88,000. Then there are people like 55-year-old Jim Albaugh, also featured in the report, who's a long-term HIV survivor and hasn't saved for retirement in part because he didn't think he'd be alive this long. 

"I have enough to get me through the next bad time, but that's it," Albaugh tells AP. 

A Prudential study mentioned in the report found that just 14 percent of LGBT respondents said they are well-prepared for retirement, compared to 29 percent of non-LGBT people. Although both figures are alarming, this means the golden years are looking less than golden for more than six out of every seven LGBT people.

In addition to unequal laws affecting taxes and benefits, as well as the AIDS epidemic, gays often earn less thanks to job discrimination and start families later, the AP notes. 

It's a sobering report that should serve as a reminder about the importance of programs and support for aging LGBT people, who are already facing a whole new round of discrimination when they enter retirement homes — if they can afford one.  

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP ...  

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PrEP Is Not The Problem, Perfection Is

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The Interplay is a special biweekly series exploring the intersections of sex, pop culture, and current events.

BY CHARLES PULLIAM-MOORE

Over the past few months Towleroad has extensively covered the development and deployment of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and its use as an HIV preventative. The concept is fairly straightforward: If you’re HIV negative, you take a pill once a day that dramatically decreases your risk of contracting the virus. Like most drug treatments, PrEP is not 100% effective. Like most drug treatments, PrEP’s rate of efficacy is high enough to make it a legitimate guard against HIV infection.

12468795723_49cc5f73f7_zThere are times where explaining PrEP can feel repetitive, especially in writing. While the research and testing around newer versions of PrEP necessitate a fair amount of coverage, the core details of what the drugs do and how they work are the same. It’s easy to think that everyone understands PrEP, reads about it, and is talking about it with their doctors. It’s easy to think that Truvada opponents are overzealous fact-deniers that can’t be reasoned with. “Why bother engaging with them?”, one might ask. The thing is, though--walking away from an opportunity to talk about PrEP is almost as socially irresponsible as calling PrEP a threat to the gay community.

Figures like Zachary Quinto (most recently) and Larry Kramer (earlier this year) represent a side of the PrEP conversation that is couched in a very justifiable fear of sex. Hear me out: Regardless of who you are or how you do “it,” most every form of sex that we engage comes with a certain degree of risk. Part of being a sexually and socially responsible person is understanding that risk and making decisions with it in mind. For an entire generation of gay men, HIV/AIDS changed the way that people thought about that risk.

Experiencing a plague that spreads through sex brings the implicit danger associated with all sex acts into the sharpest relief. To that end, there’s a grain of truth to Larry Kramer’s ham-handed condemnation of today’s sexually active youth. I am a 24-year old millennial. Many of the men of my generation simply weren’t there for the initial outbreak. While the legacy of HIV/AIDS is a part of our collective cultural history, our generational relationships to it, and sex, are recognizably different. We are not so far removed from the early days of HIV/AIDS to have completely forgotten the lessons learned about safer gay sex. We are, however, primed for new, additional innovation.

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Zachary Quinto Responds to Controversy Surrounding His PrEP Remarks

Zachary Quinto has issued a follow-up to the response he's received from his interview in OUT magazine's OUT 100 issue where he had some stern words to say about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and the gay community's "complacency" when it comes to the spread of HIV. 

QuintoSaid Quinto in the interview:

AIDS has lost the edge of horror it possessed when it swept through the world in the ’80s...Today’s generation sees it more as something to live with and something to be much less fearful of. And that comes with a sense of, dare I say, laziness...[On PrEP,] We need to be really vigilant and open about the fact that these drugs are not to be taken to increase our ability to have recreational sex...There’s an incredible underlying irresponsibility to that way of thinking…and we don’t yet know enough about this vein of medication to see where it’ll take us down the line.

Here's a portion of Quinto's follow-up, published over at The Huffington Post

I am a staunch advocate for the rights and well-being of the LGBT community. I have deep compassion and empathy for people living with HIV/AIDS. I am assuredly not internally homophobic or poz-phobic or willfully ignorant regarding this issue. I am a well-adjusted and well-educated gay man. I have read and understand the way PrEP works, and at least the most basic science behind its practical applications -- although I am always open to learning more. I support and encourage the amazing work done by HIV/AIDS awareness organizations -- as well as the many research and treatment organizations that exist across the country and the world. I did not intend to make generalizations about the LGBT community at large -- or people living with HIV/AIDS or people in love with someone living with HIV/AIDS.

What troubles me -- and what I was trying to speak to in my interview -- is an attitude among (some of) the younger generation of gay men -- that we can let our guard down against this still very real threat to our collective well-being. I have had numerous conversations in my travels with young gay people who see the threat of HIV as diminished to the point of near irrelevance. I have heard too many stories of young people taking PrEP as an insurance policy against their tendency toward unprotected non-monogamous sex. THAT is my only outrage.

How gay men have sex with each other was unilaterally redefined for nearly two generations as a result of AIDS. I was simply trying to assert my belief that we need to be especially vigilant and accountable to ourselves and one another at this moment in our evolution. It is a tremendous advancement in the fight against the disease that scientists have developed this particular medication. But it's still early -- that's all.

Read Quinto's full response here


Zachary Quinto Cautions Gay Community Against PrEP, HIV and 'Complacency'

Zachary Quinto is prominently featured in OUT magazine's OUT 100 issue, where he is listed with the honor of Artist of the Year.

QuintoIn one part of the profile for the issue, Quinto talks HIV and PrEP, and he has some stern words. Here is a condensed quote, via HuffPo:

AIDS has lost the edge of horror it possessed when it swept through the world in the ’80s...Today’s generation sees it more as something to live with and something to be much less fearful of. And that comes with a sense of, dare I say, laziness...[On PrEP,] We need to be really vigilant and open about the fact that these drugs are not to be taken to increase our ability to have recreational sex...There’s an incredible underlying irresponsibility to that way of thinking…and we don’t yet know enough about this vein of medication to see where it’ll take us down the line.

Check out the full text of the interview, over at OUT, where Quinto also talks Oscar Wilde and coming out. His comments might lead to some charged conversations, but as OUT points out, it's "disorienting" as well as thrilling "to hear a celebrity speak so passionately about divisive issues in the LGBT community"


Australian Obelisk Enveloped In A Giant Pink Condom to Help Promote HIV-Awareness


Screenshot 2014-11-09 20.42.45There are certain cities throughout the world that feature monuments whose construction lend themselves to...a particular kind of tourist photo. Paris, Pisa, and Washington are all homes to magnificent feats of human ingenuity whose shape tend to be co-opted for a giggle or two, and now Sydney, Australia can count itself amongst their ranks.

Last week the 157 year old obelisk located in Sydney’s Hyde Park found itself enveloped in what the AIDS Council of New South Wales (ACON) is calling  Australia’s largest condom as a part of their HIV/AIDS transmission campaign.

“ The need for gay men to ‘stay safe’ by using condoms is at the core of NSW’s strategy for eliminating HIV transmission by the end of the decade,” explained ACON’s CEO Nicolas Parkhill.

“We won’t be able to achieve this goal unless gay men use condoms when they’re having high-risk sex with casual
partners, particularly in situations where a partner’s HIV status isn’t known – it’s that simple. This installation is sure to create lots of interest as we’ve selected a very visible icon in a high traffic area. We’re hoping to turn lots of heads as well as raise a few eyebrows, not only here on the street but also on social media where the reach of the campaign will be expanded throughout NSW and beyond.”

According to Pink News the condom will remain in place for the next six days as a means of provoking conversation about safe sex policies.


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