Archive for the ‘Safer Sex & HIV’ Category
It is not unusual for people to reach out to us with anxiety of having contracted an STD because they had unprotected sex with a stranger of the same sex. Unprotected sex is a dangerous activity. Callers are frequently aware of the risks and are often mortified at their own behavior, as well as being sick with fear of the potential consequences.
A common link for the people who make these calls is that they are attempting to hide their sexual orientation from others (and often themselves). This denial then leads to risky behavior, regret, and further denial.
One of our primary goals at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) National Help Center is to help people identify their own sexual orientations. We believe that when a person is honest with herself, she is more likely to make informed and healthy decisions. That is one aspect of diminishing risky behavior. The second is support from one’s friends and family,* which of course an individual who is coming out does not have control over. However, this further suggests to all of us that acceptance of differing sexual orientations leads to happier and healthier individuals.
Did you recently have a risky same-sex encounter that you want to talk about? Give us a call, send us an email or start an online chat with a volunteer peer-counselor.
*From a study by Vincke, Bolton, Mak, and Blank at the University Hospital in Belgium, 1993:
Individuals who recognize and freely admit that they are either homosexual or bisexual may be rejected by their peers, families, and others. Adequate social support, however, has been shown to lead to a heightened sense of well-being and health. It has also been shown to encourage individuals to adopt and maintain healthier lifestyles. There are important correlations between social support and self-esteem, control/mastery, and stress management. The withdrawal of social support following the coming out of gay people can have serious detrimental effects on their social and emotional well-being.
While certainly it gets less attention in the press than in previous years, HIV continues to be a hovering presence in the GLBT community. And while no one wants to get an HIV-positive diagnosis, it is not the death sentence that many assume it is. Through medical management, HIV-positive men and women can live active, and full lives. HIV is now more on par with diabetes in terms of affecting one’s day-to-day life.
This does not mean that an HIV-positive diagnosis is not a shock. We hear from numerous callers when they discover their positive status, and many question the probability of attracting loving and sexual partners. It can be reassuring to learn that there is an active HIV-positive community, and that for many people who are informed and educated about HIV and how it is transmitted, a positive status is not a deterrent for love or sex.
If you were recently diagnosed with HIV, please give us a call. We’re hear to talk whenever you need to.