20 Is the New Stupid
Preliminary data from the New York City Health Department shows that HIV infection in men who have sex with men has increased by 33% in the past six years. What is even sadder is that HIV infection in teens, 13-19, has doubled, while men over 30 have shown a 22% decrease in new infections. New infections in the under 30 age group now account for 44% of all new cases. Still not phased by the new data? Well, how about 232 vs. 101? That’s the difference between the reported Black vs. White new cases in 2006. Oh, don’t breathe a sigh a relief for the Latino population either; Latinos had 55% more HIV diagnoses than Whites. Although Manhattan showed a 57% increase in infections, specific neighborhoods – such as East and Central Harlem – showed increases of up to 115%. Here’s what all New Yorkers should know. First, you can be tested for free and receive free treatment regardless of your health insurance situation by visiting one of the 10 NYC Health Department STD clinics. In addition, all NYC public hospitals as well as various agencies will provide free HIV exams to anyone asking for them. Youngsters should know that anyone age 12 and older can receive a free, confidential and anonymous HIV and STD screening and treatment without parental notification; they don’t even care if you’re an illegal immigrant. If you have or believe you may have HIV or an STD and believe you may have exposed someone, the NYC Contact Notification Assistance Program (CNAP) will do the job of informing the person for you. NYC residents should call 311 for more information. Most important, please feel free to use some of the three million free condoms distributed through clubs, bars restaurants and other venues each month in the Big Apple. 30 may be the new 20, but 20 doesn’t have to be the new stupid.
The Pitfalls of Intimate Friends
I recently discussed intimate friendships with both a straight female friend and a gay male friend. In both instances, it appeared that the intimate friendship – defined here as a friendship that includes sexual intimacy – can turn into a minefield; littered with more issues than either party cares to tackle. There’s the issue of respect. How much should the parties share about their other intimate activities – if anything at all? When is it okay to bring someone you’re dating around your intimate friend? How much priority does the intimate friend have over other friends or individuals you’re dating? All said, the aforementioned questions have different answers depending on the intimate friends you ask, but more important, when the answers are different within the intimate friend pod, the relationship gets sticky. In the end, intimate friendships – unless handled with kid gloves – can prove fatal to the core friendship of the duo. Mainly because the lines of what’s appropriate become blurred leaving someone disillusioned. Most important – for me – I found that my intimate friendship(s) were preventing me from opening myself up to true love and a concrete and healthy relationship with someone who could be a partner and not just a great time and a hot screw. Can intimate friendships work? Of course they can. There are so many variables to these types of “friendships” that there is someone bound to find it a perfect arrangement. Maybe it’s just my personality type or my Latino man demanding his worth is valued, but my days of giving someone the gift of an intimate friendship are long gone.
The Caguas Zoo
Cas, Mercy and I had the opportunity to meet Kitty when we visited my mom and dad for my birthday last month. Now, my parents have adopted a 3-month old Labrador Retriever they fittingly named Brownie. Now Kitty, 6-months old and the new puppy have turned the homestead in Caguas, Puerto Rico into an Animal Planet adventure house. While speaking to mom on the phone last night she mentioned that Brownie and Kitty had managed to knock down more furniture than Hurricane Katrina. My next visit to the folks is in November and I’m afraid of what the rambunctious duo will have in store for me then.
In your opinion, what are the positive and negative qualities of having an intimate friend?
Keep passin’ the open windows…