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July 2013

12
Jul

FC2 Not Just For Females

female-condomThese days, there are a lot of “tools in the toolbox” when it comes to keeping yourself safe during business time. Gone are the days of having condoms as the only option for playing safe (although there are endless options of those, but more on that another time) and now more than ever, fellas have a treasure trove of ways to protect themselves. One of the most popular alternatives is the Female Condom. Yes, that’s right the Female Condom. However, because it can be used by both ladies AND gents, a more popular term is FC2.

 

The FC2 gets a bad rap. Not only does the name throw guys off, but it seems that they are a bit out of the comfort zone for many. I get it, they’re weird. But they’re also AWESOME. I’m going to shout my praises of the FC2 from the rooftops and by the end of this, I hope to have converted you into a believer.

 

Does your partner not like to wear condoms? Maybe he can’t stay hard or finds them uncomfortable? Never fear, FC2 to the rescue! The beauty of these bad boys is that the top doesn’t have to wear a condom… the bottom dons the FC2 and the top gets to enjoy the ride. In fact, you most definitely DON’T want to wear a traditional condom at the same time as an FC2; the two don’t mix so it’s one or the other.

 

Another bonus is that the FC2 is latex-free, which is really nice if you or your partner have an allergy or sensitivity. They’re made of a very strong and soft poly material that can warm and adapt to the anus, which feels great. And if regular condoms “ruin the mood” for you, another nice thing about the FC2 is that you can put it in hours before sex, so it’s already in and ready.

 

Now, here is the tricky part: insertion. When using the FC2 anally, it can take some time and patience and little ingenuity to make it work. See, there is an inner ring that is meant to serve as a kind of anchor when used vaginally. But, when used in the bum it’s not needed so a lot of guys choose to remove it. If so, you can either manually insert it into the rectum or have your partner place it on his penis to get it in. However, if you want to use the ring to help with insertion you can. Then, either leave it in for the duration or remove it once the FC2 is in. Don’t you love options?

 

But don’t just take my word on how great they are (full disclosure: I have used them. Ladies have butts too!)… you should try the FC2 yourself. And lucky you, we have them available at Project HIM for free! All you have to do is stop by and we will fill your pockets with the glory that is FC2. Are you a believer yet? That’s what I thought. Halleloo!

 

Resources:

8 Feel-Good Reasons To Use Female Condoms

Female Condom Use For MSM

26
Jul

Communication – Overcoming Dating Barriers

iStock_000001341102Small“I just know that if it comes out positive I’m going to be alone and lonely for the rest of my life.”

 

As I looked at the young man across from me who spoke those words as he waited for the results of his HIV test, I realized how many times I’d heard that same sentiment – both from persons waiting for their results and from clients that found out their HIV+ status some time ago.  The fear of being lonely and alone is one that most individuals can relate to.  In the search for a relationship and working on improving a relationship, there are always barriers and issues to work on and through.  HIV is just one of those barriers.  But, you know what the most important thing about barriers is?  They can be overcome.

 

In all relationships, communication and knowing your partner are the key factors in overcoming barriers.  Talking about finances, decisions with children, education choices, health choices and all sorts of other life events and factors is immensely important and should be a part of all healthy relationships.

 

As antiretroviral medicines have increased in effectiveness over the years, HIV+ individuals are living long and healthy lives.  As health increases, so does the number of healthy serodiscordant relationships.  Serodiscordant relationships are those where one partner is HIV+ and the other is HIV-.  The term serodiscordant originates from the word “seroconversion”, which is the medical term for becoming HIV positive, and the word “discordant”, which means “at odds”.  These relationships have been able to survive for years with the HIV- person maintaining that status.  Individuals remaining adherent to medication and maintaining undetectable viral loads have a much, much lower chance of transmitting the virus to a partner.  So, when you’re getting involved with a partner who has disclosed their HIV+ status, ask them about their viral load.  Ask them about their medication adherence.  Those are the keys.  Ask.  Communicate.

 

In any relationship, there are many, many things to discuss.  Specifics to discuss in a relationship are as unique as each relationship itself; however, there are some commonalities in all relationships.  We all need to discuss our emotional health in a relationship – talk about our fears of loss and grief if something happens to one of the partners.  We all need to discuss sex – what are both partners comfortable with?  How do we keep safe?  Ask. Communicate.

 

Fears of being lonely and alone are natural and experienced my most individuals; fear of being lonely and alone solely because of your HIV status?  That’s the one that shouldn’t need to exist.  All individuals deserve respect and love and to find that person that makes them happy.  People fall in love with an individual, not a health status.  HIV is just that, a health status, a barrier that can be overcome.  Know your partner, communicate with your partner; those are the keys to any relationship.

 

Related post: Sero-discordant coupling: Looking after each other in a Pos-Neg relationships.

5
Jul

Message from Greg- July 2013

Greg - HIV Program DirectorProject HIM debuted Troy’s video at Pride. In the video, Troy shared that someone he slept with had been with an HIV + partner and that he was nervous about the possible risk of HIV. What wasn’t shared was that Troy was nervous because he’d slipped up and had sex without a condom with the guy he slept with.

This omission caused a stir on Project HIM’s Facebook page. Some comments on Facebook made it clear that there were people living with HIV that were hurt by the content of the video. A few of the comments became heated to the point where battle lines were drawn between those who are HIV-positive and those who work to prevent HIV. (To read all the comments, see the June 9th post on Project HIM’s Facebook page. Link)

Divisiveness hurts us all.

We apologize to those who were hurt by the video. Project HIM staff care about people –whether you’re positive, negative, or don’t know your status. In response to the expressed hurt, the video was temporarily disabled.

Truth be told, there’s more to the video. Another segment that explains Troy’s slip ups and gives some background about Troy isn’t through with our videographer’s refinements yet. When it is, the two segments of the video will be presented together.

Notably, all the videos produced by Project HIM and any educational materials we distribute undergo a mandatory review process by the Materials Review Committee for the Iowa Department of Public Health. In addition, Project HIM’s advisory committee, a group of gay men of various ages, professional backgrounds, and varying HIV status, review and provide feedback on each video’s content.

Inevitably though, questions still surface: How do we react when the personal stories shared by others aren’t exactly how we (as HIV prevention staff) think we might respond (armed with the knowledge and experience of working in the field of HIV prevention)? Do we jump in and explain—or uphold the dignity and worth of each person’s story —as it is? There’s no perfect answer.

Each misstep is an opportunity for healing and change.

Project HIM hopes to make the hurt and anger —the underlying passion—a starting place for conversation. Do we have to stigmatize HIV in order to prevent HIV? How can we work together as a community? These are the questions we’d like to discuss at a forum this fall that brings together HIV prevention, HIV care, those living with HIV, and those who are not. We can’t move forward together if we don’t tackle the thorns that keep hurting us.

Before Troy’s story was debuted, Project HIM and its advisory committee developed the summer campaign “Know Pride. Know your status.” We wanted to take away the stigma of HIV status and emphasize the importance of knowing what your status is. A disproportionate amount of new HIV infections happen because of those who have HIV but don’t know it. People who are HIV +, know that they are, and are getting treatment, aren’t spreading the virus and chances are they’ll live a long and healthy life—just as Troy astutely notes at the end of his second video.

Pride is knowing. Pride is taking charge of your health—whether you’re negative or positive. At this critical time in history, having experienced the repeal the of DOMA, what better to do than to take pride in who we are and push the stigmas we’ve all felt to the periphery—while we move toward the center. Where we can stand united.