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Anally Afraid

Fear-based parenting is an approach that many parents believe is effective. Their children are too scared of them to misbehave--or so they think. As those children get older, they may still be afraid, but the power of that fear to influence their behavior diminishes.

It doesn't take a PhD in child psychology to notice that parents who rely on hitting or screaming at their young children to keep them under control find themselves with older children who hit and scream back and eventually are no longer moved by such tactics.

I'm not a parent, but I've been parented and I've witnessed parenting. I'm also not an HIV prevention expert, but I am HIV positive and I have witnessed the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Scaring people about HIV will not control their behavior in the long term.

That said, scaring the shit out of people does affect their behavior in the short term. Which is exactly why parents who favor this approach rely on it as much as they do. Scare tactics are used the world over in all sorts of situations because this is true.

So when I hear people say "Scare tactics work" or "Scare tactics don't work" I am at a loss. It is nearly impossible to evaluate these assertions without knowing what the person saying this or that really wants as desired outcomes.

Do you want to stop people from having unprotected sex in the short term? Then maybe scare tactics are for you. Do you want to promote safer sex over the long haul? Then maybe scare tactics aren't for you.

The question for me is whether there is room in the world of HIV prevention for both points of view. I submit that there is. The qualifier for me is the manner in which HIV messaging is delivered.

Which leads me to the "Never Just HIV" public service announcement from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. For the uninitiated, the ad states that having HIV puts you at higher risk for osteoporosis, dementia and anal cancer.

That the ad conveys those messages is important. People need to know the negative consequences of having HIV. The manner in which the ad conveys that messaging is what I cannot condone.

Watch the ad:

The over-the-top gimmicks in the ad (the horror-movie voiceover, the haunting music, the melancholy faces) leave a bad taste in my mouth, but the Frankenstein ass image of anal cancer makes me want to hurl.

Instead of making me afraid of HIV, that image of anal cancer made me afraid of anal sex. I hope that is an unintended consequence. I loathe to think that such a consequence would have been intended.

If the ad had not included that image (or any image) of anal cancer, I might have been persuaded reluctantly to take a wait-and-see approach on the effectiveness of this ad to lower HIV rates in New York City among men who have sex with men.

As it stands now, however, I cannot support it. The cost of stigmatizing anal sex in the long term is too high a price to pay for the promise of lower HIV rates in the short term.

Oriol on:


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Comments on Oriol R. Gutierrez Jr.'s blog entry "Anally Afraid"

Your comment are intriguing, and you definitely had a point. the word SCARE as big as it sounds is a mind game. From the start of the desease, I want head in to learn everything about it and I even tough class in third world for the prevention and how to avoid not to catch the bad thing. All my life after, I was scared to catch it one day, I go to sleep thinking about it, but mind you I was not promescious nor a slut. I have always stayed faithful to one relationship until it ends and than I will start over. BY the way my relationship goes over 5 yeard minimum time, so during that time I will not sleep around, also I have always and still been a complete top ( Never touch the boys things). At last recently ended my last relationship around 2004 and from there I decide to stay free and never get involved again. Because I live in the big city that doesn't sleep, I was very very scared.
Like you said it works for the short term, no sex with any one, got myself involved in height level sport and competing in a lot of race during the course of the year around the world. Soon the tactic didn't work, a year later I find myself open to a new adventure, meet a man who look extremely elegant and healthy but was very unhappy, some sadness shoed in his face, I decde to get to know him and find out he was jsut out of a relationship of 15 years...after a about 6 months of dating him, everything in me telling me he is hiding something from me, I was very scared, but more I was scared more I wanted to see him and do it , after two years of dealing with it, I finaly come up to the terms to get tested again, as I always did before in a period of two years. This time my test come out positive, and when I told him , he was least surprised but very suportive and knowing everything about the desease still didn't not come out to me about his status. Well, my blog here it's not about discolosing, it's to fellow up Oriol Gutierrez coment . My been scared of the desease didn't not save me from getting it ( All and all I did not have sex with more than 10 People in a period of almost 15 years amd most of the time when not in relatioship I use condom, I am a 100% beleiver in condom ) go figure whey at the end I am Poz.
Remember when we are children, our parent try to scare us not to touch fire, and you all know the result, one day we burn our hands because we wanted to feelwhat it is like that the parent are preventing us from. The ad to scare people will never work in a long term, that said we needed to be totaly respensable about our

I am also at a loss about what to say. The facts are always emotionless but the readers or receivers of that info is full of emotions ... of all kinds. Interpretation of certain information is still another dimension. In a way, every single piece of info we receive in our daily life is one way or the other, colored, filtered, or one-sided. That fact needs to be more emphasized and any individual who is at the receiving end could and would have to figure out for his or her own balance in the life. My sense is that any biased info can be outthere than prohibited or sensored but with any constructive criticism such as yours. So the wather can get a message balanced in his or her mind over long-run.

The ad is a christmas present from the taxpayers of New York City to every far-right anti-gay person and group in the world. It will result in more HIV cases, not fewer. There is a wealth of research on the issue of changing a target behavior. Nothing is perfect, but it is well know that fear is not a good motivator for behavior change. People need to have the facts, they need to know that they have a stake in the issue, they need to know that they have the power to effect change and they need to know that they are not alone. Most people who become infected do so not because of lack of knowledge, nor because they believe they have nothing at stake, but because they feel powerless and alone. Low self esteem is probably the biggest single risk factor for getting HIV, no matter one's color, gender or sexual orientation. What do you suppose this ad will do for the self esteem of a young gay man feeling vulnerable and alone? If he doesn't jump off a bridge, swallow several handfuls of pills or shoot himself in the head, he will despair about who he is, he will feel even more alone than before, he will be afraid of loving and living as who he is. This ad is not designed to prevent HIV. It is a vicious attack against gay men.

The realization I had about testing positive for HIV, was that it was a silent monster inside me. As a prelude of what was to come, (medicine, blood tests, mental anguish) I realized that HIV doesn't really seem to hurt. In my mind I thought like a lot of people do as well, which is, no pain no big deal. While HIV doesn't really hurt, like a cancer would or seems to, I think maybe those infected and continue spreading it without disclosure or otherwise are careless to consider these things. This disease is silent and very expensive to control, unless you have a good insurance plan. My point is, what other means can be used to give the HIV awareness neededed? Scare tactics, maybe, but not exactly sureof any thing else more effective. Maybe pictures (guys are visual creatures afterall), but when you see the pain of a friend or family member suffering because of anal cancer, I can assure you, it's not pleasant. Something to think about.

Thanks for including the ad. Since I live in Florida, I hadn't seen it. Perhaps the ad would have been better had it included women, since HIV doesn't care who you are, but what you do.

It is a counter to the slick drug ads that would have us believe that you pop a pill and life goes on as if nothing happened.

I feel bad for our youth that have a casual attitude about HIV, not being old enough to remember the days when our friends dropped like flies all around us, and many of us wondered when we'd be next.

It seems that the new attitude is that HIV/AIDS is only a problem in Africa, that it has been "dealt with" here in the States. Sometimes you need something graphic to jar you into reality.

What is frustrating and even more scary than this ad is the aditude that being HIV POZ is not a big deal any more. It seems as though people think that since there is effective medication now with reduced side effects that it is not a crisis any more. That it is a "Manageable Disease".
Well people are still dying. HIV POZ people are at higher risks for for a multitude of problems such as the anal cancer mentioned in this ad as well as Diabeties,Heart problems,hihger colesteral levels due to the effects of medication on certain people and on and on. Plus the HIV drugs can be very hard on the liver and for people with Hepatitus C this provides a very serious problem. I know. A friend of mine is going through that conundrum right now.
I am also HIV POZ but do not have Hep.C
I have been lucky and not had to start meds yet. But that time is coming soon. I am 6 years poz. and my number's are starting to indicate it's time to start meds.
Because of the slack attitude I have noticed twards HIV I support this AD. Anal cancer is scary. Dimentia is real and still happening to effected patient's. I know a few.
I am Gay,mostly active and rarely passive in part because getting anal disease does scare the hell out of me. It's something I can and have enjoyed, but many HIV poz men also have HPV and other STD's that come with risky behavior. I also believe in protected sex between hiv poz men for this and other reasons. And condoms have never bugged me.
So if this ad tells the truth and that truth is scary which IT IS,I support it.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Oriol R. Gutierrez Jr. published on December 16, 2010 5:48 PM.

After World AIDS Day was the previous entry in this blog.

NEXT Confronts "The Bare Truth" is the next entry in this blog.

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