Paris Hilton Has AIDS (Problem)

September 23, 2012

 

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Can you tell which quote above was secretly recorded and which one was not?

Mostly everyone has heard Paris Hilton’s controversial comments by now.  If you haven’t, here’s the scoop.  She was riding in a cab with a gay friend (his orientation matters here) talking about the hook-up site, Grindr.  That’s when Paris went on a little rant about gay men and her thoughts on their sexual appetites.  Her opinion on the matter was capped with, “Dude, most of them probably have AIDS … I would be so scared if I was a gay guy. You’ll like, die of AIDS.”

You may remember a few years ago Paris stepped in a puddle of water and said she was worried she’d gotten AIDS from it.  She wasn’t being serious, it was a brain fart but it did provide some fodder for me and countless others.  In some ways, we should thank Paris for sparking conversations that reach people who may not otherwise know that you can’t get AIDS from a puddle, or that all gay men are not at risk of dying from AIDS.  In some ways, she’s kind of an accidental Ambassador for AIDS Discourse in America.

What Paris Hilton said was wrong-headed.  Make no mistake about it.  I hope her friend attempted to correct her thinking, even at the risk of being snubbed for a while and missing out on cool parties and shopping expenditures, or whatever it is that Paris occupies her time with.  I also wish the cab driver had challenged her, if he were offended by her remarks… did he start recording her for a reason?  Had she said ridiculous things before that?  Was he offended, or just trying to make money off of her fame?

Either way, her comments brings to light a very real problem because many people feel the same way she does.  Whether or not they think gay men are disgusting, lots of folks still think AIDS is problem that is only faced by the gay community.  Lots of young men in the gay community practice unsafe sex, because they think AIDS is a problem faced only by old men- men in their 40s.  It’s all about perspective, and Paris Hilton’s skewed perspective on this isn’t a rare or novel concept.

So when you hear this story don’t focus your anger on Paris Hilton unless you expected more from her.  Also, if this really caught you off guard then- please- find new people to look up to.

Positively Yours,
Shawn

Mars Landing… Curiosity Did What? (Comic)

August 10, 2012

curiosity-killed-cat.jpgThat’s a funny drawing that my friend and Synthetic Division co-conspirator Josh D’Elia did in honor of the Mars rover landing. Hope everyone has a nice weekend. If you’re a cat and you’re on your ninth life, look both ways wherever you may be roaming.

Positively Yours,
Shawn

Louganis Inspires Olympic Medalist to Disclose HIV Status

August 8, 2012

ji-wallace.jpgAn interview last week with Greg Louganis by Piers Morgan has inspired a fellow Olympian to come out of the AIDS closet. A trampolinist in the 2000 Games in Sydney, Ji Wallace of Australia penned a letter to the Star Observer disclosing his HIV status. 

After seeing Louganis discuss his experiences as a gay man, Olympian, and someone living with HIV, Wallace was compelled to speak out: “It made me think and think and I couldn’t sleep, so I wrote.”  Kudos to Wallace for following his heart.  In an attempt to show that HIV is still out there, his willingness to speak up now is as perfectly timed as the athletic skills that propelled him to the silver medal at the 2000 Sydney Games.

Especially since there was speculation that, just as the athletes were arriving in London, the servers for the same-sex hook-up app, Grindr, grinded to a halt due to the influx of athletes from around the world.  Of course, that story seemed to be rubbish or a PR stunt from Grindr.  But the heart of the story, which is young people in the best shape of their lives looking to blow off a little steam with a post-Games hook-up, can’t be denied.  Single athletes of all orientations would be crazy not to troll the Olympic Village for a willing gymnast.

Hopefully, with Louganis and Wallace shining a spotlight on sexual health, some of these seemingly impervious physical specimens will realize that when it comes to HIV, they are just as vulnerable as the rest of us.

Positively Yours,
Shawn

Passing You To Sean (National HIV Testing Day)

June 27, 2012

Today is National HIV Testing Day. I’m passing you off to Sean Strub today because he has written two great blog posts and I, well, I haven’t been writing much lately since I’ve been swamped with Synthetic Division stuff.

Hope all are well!


Positively Yours,
Shawn

Greg Louganis in a Hot Tub

March 4, 2012

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On Friday night I was pleasantly surprised to see a cameo on one of my favorite new shows by world famous positoid and Olympic athlete Greg Louganis.  On Portlandia, he explains the Olympic games to the doubtful co-stars of the show whilst sitting in a hot tub.  When they meet by chance in the hotel, Greg proves he is indeed the Greg Louganis by showing them the scar on top of his head from the infamous diving board incident at the 1988 Games.

Remember what an uproar that caused when Louganis revealed his HIV status?  I’m not quite sure that if someone accidentally bled into a swimming pool today that the reaction from the general public would be any different.  People just don’t understand how the virus is transmitted. Just last week, I spoke to a high school English class.  I was trying to get across how hard it would be to transmit my virus if I suddenly bled on the podium.  I explained that the virus dies within a few seconds once it is exposed to the air.  I said that someone would have to rush up, throw me out of the way and snort up the blood as it dripped down the podium… and even then, they probably wouldn’t contract the virus.

Science has taught us a lot about this virus in the two-plus decades since Greg Louganis botched a dive and baptized an Olympic swimming pool with positoid blood.  As an educator, it would have nice to see Greg’s status revealed on Portlandia for laughs and educational value.  I can see Fred Armisen now, looking nervous. “You’re not going to get out of the hot tub and do any of those flippy dives into here, are you?”  “Oh- you’re worried about me cracking my head open and bleeding all over the hot tub? Well, no, I’m not going to do a triple back flip, double tuck swan dive into this hot tub, but if I did you wouldn’t have to worry. The only person I’d be hurting would be myself.”

I know I’m in the AIDS bubble. But it would have been funny to see something along those lines.  More people need the facts, and delivering them with a punchline is sometimes the best way.  That said, it was really nice to see Greg delivering some laughs on the show.  It’s so comforting to see long-term survivors on the boob tube.

Positively Yours,
Shawn

SHOCKER: Red Ribbon Worn At Golden Globe Awards

January 16, 2012

Yes, you read that right- an actor of prominence wore a red ribbon on his suit jacket at the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday night. Before I laud praise, I gotta say that it was wonderful to see one of those little suckers.  Really.  I paused the screen to inspect it, I was so excited.

Back in the 1990s, actors routinely wore red ribbons to award shows to express their solidarity with the plight of those living with HIV.  But once treatments became available to those in privileged areas of the world, the red ribbons started to disappear.  By the end of the 90s the red ribbons had gone the way of the parachute pants, deemed unworthy to enter the new millennium. So big ups to the one and only Steve Buscemi, who continued his tribute to the 90s by losing a Best Actor Award in the TV Series to Kelsey Grammer. 

If there’s ever a ribbon made for actors who lose acting awards to Grammer, I’m wearing one in your honor, Steve.

Positively Yours,
Shawn

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I Victory Crouch You by Synthetic Division (Halo Tribute)

October 12, 2011

Did you hear the story last month about how a group of gamers solved a problem with HIV that has been baffling scientists for over a decade? Click here to learn more about how a University of Washington program transforms scientific problems into computer games. 

I, on the other hand, use gaming for less noble purposes.  Inspired by the insane amount of time I’ve logged on Halo in the last year, I decided to pay tribute with a Synthetic Division song and music video.  The song was co-written with one of my good friends, Micah Consylman.  We got together, had a beer, and took turns pecking away at a synthesizer and laying down vocals. Though it’s not discovering the elusive structure of a retrovirus protein, I believe “I Victory Crouch You” is more than a song inspired by an act that is perpetrated on fallen opponents in the game.  I think this song will have a reverse effect, and eventually inspire scientists to find a cure for HIV so I can dedicate every waking moment of my life to playing video games.

Positively Yours,
Shawn

Two and a Half Men: Did Charlie Harper Have HIV?

September 20, 2011

I’m not a big Two And A Half Men fan- in fact I’ve never watched an entire episode until last night.  Morbid curiosity drew me in, as I was wondering how they would kill off the womanizing, drug-usin’, freerollin’ Charlie Sheen’s character, the womanizing, drug-usin’, freerollin’ Charlie Harper.

Well, I wasn’t disappointed.

The opening scene is the funeral. His grieving brother Maxwell (Jon Cryer, “Maxwell” is a guess) is saying a few words, but can barely finish a sentence before the angry mob of hot ladies chime in.  “My brother gave so much, to so many people…”  “Yeah, he gave me herpes.”  “… and me gonorrhea.”  “I got genital warts from him.”  Then another man chimed in about how much drug money he was owed, and who he should collect from.  When Maxwell suggested hiring a lawyer, then man said he’d rather keep the law out it.  Later, while grieving at home, Maxwell is visited by a slew of people, including John Stamos, who admits to a threesome that involved he and Charlie Harper as well as a female, which became a twosome after the female passed out.

Oh, and he died because he fell in front of a train, but it was insinuated that he was pushed by his girlfriend; hence no open casket at the service.  It was all funny stuff until the script went up in a puff the moment Charlie’s ashes were accidentally scattered across the living room floor.

Anyway, based on the post-mortem fleshing out of Charlie Harper’s character, is it not a stretch to think that maybe he was a positoid?  That somewhere along the way, during a decade of heavy partying and drug use, he contracted HIV?  Let’s rip this one from the headlines, since “AIDS monster!” stories are always popular in the media…

Maybe Charlie’s girlfriend went to donate blood, found out she was positive, went back to Charlie. “I don’t have HIV!”  “Well, have you ever been tested?”  “No- I use condoms when she says she won’t have sex without them…”  “Who is SHE?”  “Uh, wait baby, I didn’t mean-”  One shove later and Charlie Harper is splattered by a train.  If that sounds too dark for a sitcom, you must remember that a laugh track can sooth the seriousness of any situation.

Positively Yours,
Shawn

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