We live in parallel worlds rife with contradictions. As we fear more and more budget cuts; AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) problems; slow, or lack of, global access to HIV medications; and other concerns that keep popping up when attempting to control this epidemic, there are rays of hope that emerge, and motivate many of us working in treatment and research advocacy to keep moving forward.
It is one of the great ironies of a sex-drenched culture that sex, if it is spoken of at all, is too often described with code words and cute metaphors or, in health care settings, sometimes barely mentioned. Both practitioners and patients can be reluctant to speak frankly and this can impact both the quality of health information, as well as good decisions about healthy sexual practices. Health care providers need to take an honest look at their ability to be comfortable with sexuality and discussions of sex.
As a result, we've posted a case on the Journal Watch/AIDS Clinical Care site, describing someone who requests intermittent pre-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV.
Bethsheba Johnson (in green) at a meet-and-greet with former President Bill Clinton for Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative volunteers; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 2006.
"Smile, it can't be that bad!" My client Sam had just arrived in my office and was angry and upset that a total stranger had approached him with these words while he was shopping for groceries. "Can you believe that?" he asked before adding, "And that's not the first time that's happened." He was embarrassed that his mood was so obvious to everyone he encountered, yet defiant at his right not to mask his feelings from anyone.