Today, I’m HIV Negative!

My HIV test came back today. It was negative. Kool!!  But why did I have to confirm and correct the Veterans Administration (VA) hospital nurse who called on how to report the results?  HIV test-negativeHere’s what happened:
VA Nurse: Mr. Robinson, your HIV test was normal.
Me: Huh? Normal?? Don’t you mean it was “negative”?
VA Nurse: Yes, the test was negative.
Me:  Are you sure you mean the test was negative?
VA Nurse: Yes, the test was negative.

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Readers, when it comes to a serious test like HIV, the word “normal” can have many  implications. Perhaps the word is commonly used in such reports but in the years I’ve been tested for HIV, today is the first time anyone in the medical field has said, “your test was normal”.

I know a number of people who are living with HIV. You cannot just say to someone NOT affected with HIV that their test was “normal”. That could imply that they already have it and that current tests show that certain things are “within range” of expected normalcy for one living with and being treated for HIV. People with and being treated for HIV have to monitor certain blood cell count and activity and get constant check-ups to make sure any medications they are taking is working as expected. Their doctor has to determine that the infected person’s blood and the body are not undergoing some other physiological change(s) which could adversely affect the treatment or the overall health of the person who has HIV.

Before I go further, this important side-note is needed:
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is not AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). There is a difference. People simply do not “catch” or become infected with AIDS; they are infected with HIV. HIV is a slowly replicating retrovirus that causes AIDS. HIV attacks your body’s immune system. The virus destroys CD4 cells, which help your body fight diseases. It can severely damage your immune system and lead to AIDS.  AIDS is the final stage of the HIV disease. This is the MAIN reason for getting tested regularly and, if found positive for HIV, getting treatment.  There is more than enough information on the web and in every medical office, hospital and most institutes of learning about HIV and AIDS, its symptoms and how it is treated.

The reason I wanted to post something personal like my HIV test results is simply to share an important message:  NEVER let nurses or doctors give you a “matter-of-fact” report of any medical test you’ve taken, particularly those which may be health or life threatening. LISTEN carefully to what is being said to you. QUESTION, CHALLENGE and CONFIRM what you just heard so that there is no misunderstanding in your mind. If you choose to take the home HIV tests, such as the OraQuick Home HIV Test  for example, READ THE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY for how to test yourself (and/or your partner) and how to determine the results of the test.

Finally, if you are sexually active – be it daily, weekly, monthly or every six months or more, USE PROTECTION but [still] GET TESTED REGULARLY, especially if you should “slip up” (meaning you and/or your partner didn’t use a condom) which is the same as engaging in risky sexual behavior.  GET TESTED if you have any doubts about possible exposure to a STI (sexually transmitted infection) or STD (sexually transmitted disease).

Here’s a short video on how to put on a condom…correctly. You know, I always felt that men, not women ought to give such lessons, since WE have the “equipment” and since we don’t show women how to use a tampon, etc, but… after seeing this video, I’ll give the lady here a pass. Guys, even if you think you know how to put a condom on, watch it anyway; some of you might learn something new!

Now, let’s have fun and fuck…YES…by all means…but let’s do it responsibly! Your health and life… and that of any sex partner, may depend on it!

Keepin’ It…REAL!

Self-love (and Viewing Pornography) Is NOT Cheating

May is National Masturbation Month. With that in mind, I thought I’d share part of a response I made on another forum, with some added thoughts regarding the controversial and often debated question of whether or not self-love (aka masturbation) and viewing pornography is considered cheating on your partner.

I’m a highly sexual creature, with a strong but CONTROLLABLE, sexual appetite. That’s pretty damn good for someone my age! While I enjoy partner sex, sometimes I simply WANT to be with or often feel the need to please…myself. Therefore, if I feel the need to “rub one out”, and pornography helps me to achieve that “nut” (because by nature, many MEN rely on VISUAL STIMULATION for sexual gratification), then I’m going to want my hassle-free sexual right and freedom from my lover or sexual partner to do just that… and to do so without my partner tripping! In most cases and with many men, self-love, self-pleasuring or masturbation (let’s call it what it is!) has no adverse reflection on the other person in the relationship. If one was masturbating often and enjoyed doing that activity before finding a regular sex partner AND establishing a regular and long-term sexual and emotional relationship with that person, what indication is there and what law is there, to declare that masturbation should just stop being a personal solo, sexual activity?

Many women (and oddly, some men too) seem to think that once a relationship is in effect, especially MARRIAGE, all self-pleasuring should just stop cold turkey. Wrong! But still such people seem to feel that this is the way things are “meant to be”. Many ministers condemn the act of self-pleasure after marriage. They either preach to their congregations or state in personal counseling that masturbation is a “cheating against the spouse” and “is a sin against God”. I have actually heard people say (or rather, have lied) about how they “no longer have a need or desire to ever masturbate again” or to view porn because “their partner takes care of all their [sexual] needs”. REALLY??  If such people have it like that, then God bless ’em!  However, the REALITY is, even though many couples may indeed have “all their [sexual] needs taken care of” by their spouse or partner, it remains highly likely that one, if not both partners will eventually masturbate at some point in the relationship, and that he or she may come to do so often, and perhaps even using some sort of pornographic tool or sexual aid or sex toy to help stimulate or enhance their self pleasuring sexual goals.

It bears repeating: regardless of your gender or sexual orientation, that if you were regularly masturbating before you started having frequent partner sex, it is very likely you will continue to masturbate – either alone or with your partner (or with some other person) while in a relationship. Of course, it is also very possible that the more frequent partner sex you have, the less often you’ll need or want to masturbate; however, studies have shown that masturbation occurs frequently in partnered relationships, too.

Let’s get one thing clear: Masturbation allows a person and teaches a person to be more in-tuned and comfortable with and appreciative of his or her own body and sexuality, and the pleasures body can give, on the PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL, AND SPIRITUAL levels!  The POSITIVE result of such being (if masturbation is done within reason), is the development of a better, sexual person.  One negative, yet RARE result of masturbation is when a person loses all proper perspective on life and reality as a result of having or developing an OBSESSION with doing such an activity, and when that obsession with self-pleasuring/sexual gratification is allowed to control and dictate that person’s life over all else, and begins affecting certain livelihood responsibilities and needs. In this case, such an obsession would be considered an addiction and that person would need and should seek professional help.

And now a word about…PORNOGRAPHY.

Pornography has its bad points; that’s true. But much of pornography can also be quite…good… so, let’s talk about the good, since what can be considered “bad” about pornography is debatable.  First, no one should be judgmental on the TYPE of pornographic material another person has or chooses to use or view (except of course, that involving minor children or animals!) which a person has determined to be “helpful” towards achieving certain levels of personal pleasure and comfort. Second, I think it would be enhancing, if not necessarily helpful to any relationship, (not to mention, very hot, sexually speaking), if both people in a healthy relationship, who are enjoying healthy, pleasurable intercourse sex, also masturbated TOGETHER from time to time and, on occasion, also watched and enjoyed pornography together! Now, we all know that there are many couples who have partners who are “so not into porn”. That’s kool. But what is the OTHER partner who has always enjoyed porn to do? Just stop watching it? That’s not fair. And what if that one partner, who DEMANDS that there be no porn, goes a step further to demand that there be no masturbation “in the course of the relationship” either? It seems obvious to me that if the “need” for self pleasuring is strong enough, that porn-loving, sexually self-pleasing partner will sneak off to do what he or she desires to do anyway. If he/she is “caught”, a whole different set of issues (like “trust and honesty”) will come into play! I suggest that people, early on in their relationship, tell their partners what they like to do sexually.  A partner may not like or approve what the other partner enjoys sexually but they should respect that part of the person.  I also think a person should consider inviting their partner to join in on a few of  masturbatory sessions and not be afraid to tell his/her partner that, when the mood arises, he/she will probably be  “checking out some skin”, and yes, may even jack (or jill) off to it, too. (“jill off” is one of many references to female masturbation.)

At this point, few of you might want to know whether or not I masturbate. You might also want to know if I like or love pornography, and you want to know if I love sex. The answer to all three of your questions is YES, OF COURSE; and I say that without hesitation, shame or embarrassment. And, I don’t mean to brag but in my entire sexually active life, I’ve never had any complaints regarding MY sexual performances from any of my sexual partners. I’d like to think that I owe a great deal of credit to the things I learned about my body and sexuality, particularly MALE sexuality (since I happened to be male) through years of masturbation, coupled with self and formal education, and  from sexual relationships with others. Of course, some credit goes to my reading and using pornography! Lots of great ideas were – and are found within that media!

Finally, the main and perhaps single purpose of pornography is to inspire sexual interest in people. This is a no-brainer!  Pornography can be fun and can only enhance, heighten and stimulate sexual desire and awareness and a sensuous atmosphere. Now, if the other partner doesn’t like porn, or doesn’t like it when you masturbate, then you and partner need to talk about it!  At some point, somebody is going to have to deal with the other partner’s sexual likes, quirks and even fetishes. Somebody in the relationship will have to respect that part about their partner as they take into careful consideration ALL the other, more important things that IS liked and loved in the relationship. (Or, they can simply end the relationship, pack their bags and move on).

Everyone has SOMETHING that is NOT liked or not easily accepted or tolerated by other people, especially a loving partner. It’s simply human nature. The fact is, we CAN choose to accept, tolerate, or reject things those things. I believe that if you TRULY LOVE your partner, then it should be easy to respect that partner as having been a single sexual person long before they met you. Therefore, within reason (and so long as it is not addictive to the degree mentioned earlier), anyone giving him or herself some “personal time” on the self-love/solo sex level is NOT cheating on their partner. Such very natural a sexual activity as masturbation will hardly ever negatively impact a relationship UNLESS of course, an objecting partner is so insecure in that relationship that he/she decides to make it (and/or pornography) an issue.
Keepin’ it….REAL!