"Eventually, everyone sits down to a banquet of circumstances." - Robert Louis Stevenson
Each of us have a bowl of berries which can serve as the desert for the banquet of food. This banquet sometimes gets to be too much. The banquet is overwhelming so each of us starts to separate the meat from the vegetables from the sweet potatoes. Even our separation does not spare the mixing of all categories. This is your own banquet of CIRCUMSTANCES.
We will have to deal with this banquet at one time or another. I believe it is inevitable. The banquet of circumstances can be your relationship with your family, your own personal relationship with another individual or your relationship with work. Maybe it is even your relationship with your own self. This 'banquet' happens for a reason. It is time to look at your own 'house'. Does your house need cleaning or does your body needing cleansing?
When was your last banquet of circumstances? Did you work it out? Or was it brushed under the rug? The banquet of circumstances I sat down to last weekend was absolutely enjoyable. I was surrounded by love, friendship, bees and needlepoint amphibians. In addition to caring for my bees I had the pleasurable of the company of my friend, Bessie at the Arts Project of Cherry Grove Annual Art Show. It was Bessie's first show and a hit for contacts, camaraderie and sales. She makes her own lampshades. I displayed needlepoint frames, pillows, knitted scarfs, hats and neck warmers. Gotta love that little frog!
Circumstances did happen during the 80's and 90's The first wave of patients dying of AIDS, the epidemic that we all feared during that time. I was in my 20's. I first came to Fire Island Pines in 1976, and every summer from 1978 - 1982 . I was visiting my cousin, Anthony who had a house there. He was an artist/illustrator for Highlight Magazine. I was introduced to the finest cultured gay men. Some of these men were the same who had been present during Stone Wall. One by one these men started dying. I left for medical school in 1982. By the time I returned in the summer of 1983, many more had more died, including my cousin, Anthony Rao.
We are in trouble once again.
As a health care contributor to Instinct Magazine (www.instinctmagazine.com) I have the pleasure of reading this nationwide magazine before it hits the news stands every month. This month is a sobering experience. A 21 city survey finds one in 5 men having sex with another man are HIV positive. This will become the second peak of this thirty year old epidemic.
You may ask how is this possible? Why is this happening? There are newer drugs on the market. I remember working in London at the old St. Stephens Hospital where men had to go 'underground' to get AZT as it was not available in London at that time. I find it utterly sad that more than 8,000 people are today on waiting lists for tapped out state programs providing life saving HIV medications. How could this happen in 2011?
Here are the numbers. 8,153 men who have sex with other men were surveyed in 21 cities.
- 19% of these men were HIV positive
-28% of these HIV positive men are black
-18% of these HIV positive men are Hispanic
-16% of these HIV positive men are white
Most alarming is 44% estimated number of these men are unaware of their infection.
You would think that prevention is the key. It is! The government view of sexuality of gay men should be celebrated and not viewed as an obstacle or 'different'. I do not how to put it, but I hope same-same marriage in New York State will help alleviate these escalating numbers. You must read the first ever safe-sex book by Richard Berkowitz called How to Have Sex in an Epidemic. If you want a look back, watch his 2009 documentary entitled Sex Positive. New campaign ads are finally focusing on minority groups and young gay teenagers/young adults with their accepting father/mother. There is a group that goes unnoticed. This is the supposedly heterosexual man who likes to have occasional sex with men. These are men on the DL (down low). Where are the campaigns for these DL men?
Promiscuity is still here. We have to realize it. We are sexual beings... some with a larger appetite than others. Some have sex addiction. There needs to be more open talk- lets get down and dirty and tell the schools, other doctors and religious organizations about the reality. This is not going away. I am open and frank with my gay patients. I want to know how they are practicing safe sex. I also want to know what these gay patients are doing for this second wave of the AIDS epidemic. Get involved! Do not be one of those statistics.