Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Morning Edition - 9/12/07

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.

On Blast
In your opinion, what are the positive and negative qualities of having an intimate friend?

Keep passin’ the open windows…

10 comments:

Joey Bahamas said...

Those stats on HIV are terrifying...great write up though! This is one of the reasons I enjoy your blog so much...

Darius T. Williams said...

I cut that intimate friendship crap out - well, I'm a church boy, so I'm not intimate (smile). Anyway, it's too confusing - then there's expectations once you reach a certain level in the eh "relationship" not to mention your feelings and their feelings...or in many cases the lack thereof. Yea, eliminate those scenarios and enjoy life.

KennonPurdy said...

Intimate friends are cool when you are single. But I gather you are no longer single so the intimate friends need to get the axe!

Cocoa Rican said...

"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."
Kennon, do you read my posts to their end or just what you'd like to take a stab at? Lawd... it's just one of those days for me.

Mr. Jones said...

Re: 20 New Stupid - HIV is up, up, up everywhere. People just need to wake up and realize that everything that looks good and feels good aint good for you.

Re: The pitfalls... - Just to be clear, 'intimate friendship' in this case basically = fuck buddy?

If so, then I've never been one to engage in sex with friends. It's waaaay too awkward. Don't get me wrong, I'm not denouncing having regularly having sex with someone you enter into that type of agreement with (for example, there's this dude who I have an understanding with), but we aren't friends.

I'm totally against having sex with people I consider friends.

That Dude Right There said...

Intimate friendships are most certainly a minefield. Although mine did start out with and me and the person dating. After we decided to discontinue dating, we continued having sex (it was TOO HOT to quit). But when he decided to start dating again, I decided that I the sex had to stop.

Now as far as HIV goes, I truly believe that those with HIV have the power to stop the spread of it. I believe that most of those that have it, know that they have it, but they decide not to tell people and continue to have sex. I know a few of those people.

If there ever is a day that I find out that I have HIV, that will be the day that I discontinue having sex (until I am in a true and committed relationship). My biggest fear would be giving the virus to another person.

Cocoa Rican said...

TDRT...truth be told, that's just how my intimate friendships got started...I was with them first, then did a quick conversion...
Jones...boi, I don't sleep with my friends either. It would be messy and I'm so close to them that it would feel like sleeping with siblings.

Anonymous said...

Those HIV stats are sad but not surprising. I know in the MD/DC area the young boys are one of the fastest growing groups affected by this, and a large part of that is them having unsafe sex with men who are much older than them ... the old heads cruise around CONSTANTLY looking for them boys (college campuses, etc.) and the kids don't have the foresight to make them wrap it up. I was sitting in a bar, and watched in disbelief as boys six and seven years younger than ME were leaving with me who were in their late 30s and early 40s ... and I doubt it was to talk. When it comes to safe sex, I think the average man, if you let him, will take the risk of going without any kind of protection. A good portion of folks dont' give a fuck. That's just real.

People now are apathetic about it because the average kid in his late teens or early 20s, regardless of orientation, has never seen the horror of AIDS first hand like many of us who are a bit older did. There's not the same points of reference. It's not being beaten into their heads to wear condoms, either: remember way back when you had TLC wearing condoms on their clothes, Salt and them making records about AIDS, and Magic hosting specials? Young kids have none of that now. Well, I shouldn't say none but the urgency is not there. There is info out there but they just aren't educating themselves.

Sometimes I even wonder if the rates ever declined ... if you want my honest opinion I think more people are getting test now than were say five or six years ago, and we are seeing the results.

Mr. Jones said...

Cocoa - Exactly.

yet another black guy said...

goodness, that's scary news! i try to inform youngsters at every opportune moment to use protection; whether they be gay, straight or bi. we can beat this disease with common sense and control.

my one intimate friendship turned into something i'm still struggling to get over. it's best for me to keep the platonic and romantic piles separated.