30 years into the epidemic, exasperated by silence and ignorance, we don’t need AIDSphobia articulated anymore. Sadly, 3500 words later, that is all Rich Juzwiak’s article Please Don’t Infect Me, I’m Sorry, has to offer (how someone can fail to write about PrEP or PEP when investigating their fear of HIV is beyond me). While taking us on a grindr fueled journey of fear and loathing in lost chances, all we learn is sites like Gawker still feel free to trade in fear mongering, lack luster research, and discriminatory points of view. For all of his fear of HIV, he fails to mention evolving prevention technology such as PEP or PrEP, and seems to almost refuse to people living with HIV as anything beyond a positive sign.
Its articles like this that can almost break an online citizen, leave you blurry eyed and wondering what you have to show for yourself hours later beyond a few dozen flaming comments, and online enemies. It’s enough to consider a moratorium on the Internet, or at least on caring. But it doesn’t last, because the straw that almost breaks the camel’s back is nothing compared to the numerous threads, that when viewed together, weave together something akin to an online community.
For nuanced, interesting and informed takes on the human immunodefiency virus, and the culture it engenders you have to go to the source; people living with HIV and those who take time to think about the virus beyond crisis, and death. Luckily the Internet is filled with such proactive and fascinating voices. The rise of blogging as means of therapy, community building, and anti corporate media has created a wealth of information and insight about HIV is a gateway to understanding health, politics, culture, and each other.
Among my favorite AIDS-centric blogs is HIVSTER. It brings together hipsters (boys I hate to love) and stories about HIV, circa right now. Brad Crelia’s recent post on Grindr” illuminates the intimate possibilities of Grindr. In lucid prose he maps out a constellation of moments both sexual and not, in which he was open to love, penetration, death and connection.
“Real Stories from the Frontline of HIV/AIDS” is how POZ markets its blog hub. Similarly The Body uses, “Perspectives from the HIV/AIDS Community”. Both host a PC blend of represented acronyms such as leaders from ASOs, and PWAs. While POZ works to get more international voices, The Body seems to have more grassroots writers. Both sites, like almost all the AIDS related blogs, are a mix of posts that are obviously about HIV, and others that seemingly have nothing to do with the virus. Ria Denise’s August 23rd post is a play list that regardless of your status may give you pause, but maybe specifically poignant when navigating stigma, haters, and mortality.
Criminal HIV Transmission is a good one-stop shop to get you started in thinking about HIV and criminalization. It is a blog with a simple and obvious focus. Similarly Lifelube, with a focus on the holistic health of gay men, and HIVandHepatitis, benefit from knowing what they are and digging deep.
Due to the nature of blogging, the speed in which one can express—and possibly feel heard—many people who feel silenced, gravitate towards starting a blog. There is a lot of abandon blogs in which people newly diagnosed, or working out the earliest days of disclosure have left behind. Among the best are The Naked Truth from charismatic Marvelyn Brown and Still Arriving by James McLarty-Lopes. Left unupdated, a reader, like myself, can be left hoping that the one time blogger’s circumstances are so good IRL, they no longer needed the online community.
Among the single author sites, humor and a blend of the exceptional and the banal reign supreme. Mark S.King’s video blog My Fabulous Disease brings together his drag queen whit with heart-felt essays on his father. Adrienne Seed’s blog HIVINE is a welcome voice that crackles with her British humor. When reading, her wins (like recently getting her doctor to switch her meds) can feel like our win.
For news and stories beyond blogs there are also magazines available online like The Positive Side and Positive Lite (Yah Canada!) and Positive Frontiers. And some magazines have columnists that focus on HIV such as Aaron Stella at Philly Gay News. All of these examples bring together medical, political and cultural news through the filter of HIV, often leading to heated discussion on Facebook and message boards.
While you may not agree, or even enjoy, every word from the above-mentioned sites (to say nothing of the ones I don’t even know I don’t know), together they are part of the evolving discussion around HIV. They explore what it is to be living with HIV, rather than to be plagued by it, and they link the experience of the virus in multiple way into the everyday. And for these reasons they are exactly what we need 30 years into the epidemic.