Monday, October 29, 2007

Condom Use Amongst Young Gay Men

An article featured in Southern Voice Online, an Atlanta based online publication for local and national news, discusses dwindling condom usage amongst young gay men. The article states possible factors such as: a change in attitude from HIV/AIDS going from terminal to manageable, the public school taught abstinence only program which excludes gays and lesbians by not having the right to marry, self destructive attitudes deep rooted in gay men/women because by the time we figure ourselves out society/religion has already told gay people they are pieces of shit, and lastly a shared cultural feeling that HIV is inevitable for gay men :

"There was once a time, in the not too distant past, when there wasn’t a gay social function — whether held at a club, community center or festival — that didn’t stock condoms seemingly by the truckload.
There was once a time, in the not too distant past, when many gay men — older men, teens, even gay porn stars — wouldn’t think about having unprotected sex, particularly with casual sex.

Times have changed. Jay Dempsey runs the P.O.O.L. program for gay men at AID Atlanta, and begins each new group by asking attendees whether condom use is still the sexual norm among local gay men.

“The answer’s always no,” Dempsey said.
The change in gay men’s views toward condoms is often associated with the onset of highly effective anti-AIDS drugs in the mid-’90s, when the perception of the disease transformed from an automatic death sentence to an almost invisible, manageable illness. Experts agree that no longer seeing friends suffer or die from AIDS has affected how gay men approach safer sex, but other factors have changed as well.

The condom-friendly sex education of the ’90s has been replaced wholesale by the Bush administration’s devotion to abstinence-until-marriage, while, simultaneously, marriage has become a legal impossibility for most gay and lesbian Americans. And as gay people fight for rights and acceptance from society at-large, many continue to struggle with self acceptance, tensions with their families and creating healthy intimate relationships.

“If you have this feeling of yourself as not being worthy, perhaps you don’t really care about yourself, you don’t care about your health, and so you might not use a condom,” said Celia Lescano, a researcher at Brown University who studies condom use among young people.

And then there are gay men who believe wearing a condom is futile. “There’s a deep linkage in the minds of some gay people that if you’re gay, you’ll inevitably get HIV,” said Donna Futterman, professor of clinical pediatrics and director of the Adolescent AIDS program at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York."

The article goes on stating, that unless we show passion, intensity, and a modern view specific to the young generations in the wear-condoms-to-avoid-AIDS message the concept will not fit them.
"Companies like Coca-Cola launch new advertising campaigns every few years to capture new generations of youth, while the wear-a-condom-to-avoid-AIDS message hasn’t been modified in decades, Children’s Hospital’s Futterman said.

“Unless we give each generation the message with the same kind of passion, intensity and updatedness, [youth] are not going to get it, they’re not going to believe it’s for them,” said Futterman, author of “Lesbian & Gay Youth Care & Counseling.” HIV-prevention strategies must address “the interaction of so many forces” that prevent gay youth from using a condom, including various mental health stressors, Futterman said.

“We can’t isolate one factor [that causes unsafe sex] and so our approaches have to be multi-factoral,” said Futterman, who added that a societal taboo about condoms prevents them from appearing in commercials, movies, music and all other mass media. “If condoms are just in the public health sphere, and not in the real world sphere, why should young people think condoms are for them?” Futterman said.

I've always felt intensity is a key factor in "reinventing" the concept of safe-sex messages. I believe you have to establish a character which fits the roll of any person. It's not about who the character is but more about what the character is going through. The viewer needs to share the same commonality and emotions as the character they are viewing. It has to be something strong enough that causes people to say, "I never want to be in that position," or, "I've been there and I don't want to go there again. I am going to protect myself," "I respect myself. I am going to make choices which reflect that." In my opinion, you're never going to get anyone to listen by being soft on an issue. To me, being soft, is like whispering in a protest. Use the most informative and honest data and hit people below the belt.


Anonymous said...

I am simply appalled by how short-sighted gay men can be. Sure, AIDS hasn't ravaged the community in a few years but who's to say a mutation in the virus won't take everyone back to the early 90s? And blaming our government for the prevalence of abstinence-focused sex-ed is getting old. Sure, Bush and co. are terrible, but it's the responsibility of each person to learn about safe sex. Schools don't do shit and never really did.

It's becoming really hard to muster up any type of sympathy for the gay community and the lives lost to AIDS when stories like this become more and more prevalent.

the zak said...

A thought experiment...
the strategy of let's get tested TOGETHER BEFORE we have sex for A VARIETY of sexually transmitted diseases

warrior scout said...

thank you. i used a snippet of your post for mine on much the same subject. good job btw.

Anonymous said...

There are certain people who believe that the use of condoms leads to unfulfilling sex. There are many gay men who have experienced loss of erection while having anal sex wearing condoms and as such they have given up using condoms while having sex. Because of this move there are chances of these men getting Dr.Ursacaught in STDs including HIV AIDS. Loss of erection has also been reported by other men when they make love with the opposite sex wearing condoms.

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