I've been spending quite a bit of time doing HIV/AIDS outreach in the mean streets of DC for the last two weeks. I'm on the look out for people who are 'at-risk' which is public health speak for people who are most susceptible to HIV infection for whatever reason. These reasons could be: poverty, drug use, alcohol abuse, living on the down low, etc.
I encounter my fair share of shady characters when I'm out in the streets, giving out free condoms and urging people to get tested for HIV. And for some reason, the guys I encounter feel that my outreach efforts are just an opportunity to hit on me.
Here is a sample of what I heard last Friday night:
- "Well, I don't actually have a girlfriend right now, but if you're free, maybe we can use the condoms together."
- "You're real pretty. Are you married? What size shoe do you wear?"
- "I don't think these condoms are going to fit. Do you have any Magnums or XLs? I'm a big guy if you know what I mean. Heh, heh. Maybe I can show you." (yes, I give away free XLs too)
- "You gotta boyfriend? Cuz if you don't, then maybe I can use these condoms with you."
- "I don't need an HIV test. I don't sleep with prostitutes. I'd sleep with you though."
Here is what I would like to say to them:
- "Look, just because I'm giving you condoms as a means to SAVE YOUR LIFE doesn't mean that I want to use those condoms with you. Get your own damn partner!"
Here is what I actually say to them:
Speaking of saving your life, do you remember when your last HIV test was? If it was 6 months ago (or longer), then it's time. Today is National HIV Testing Day. The test is quick, painless, and bloodless. All it takes is a simple swab of your mouth and in 30 minutes or less, you'll get your results. If you're not sure where you can get a confidential HIV test near you, check out this site.
In other HIV news, the Centers for Disease Control released a report today that shows HIV infections are rising yet again in the gay male community, especially between the ages of 13 and 24. Come on, peeps! Use a condom and get tested!!
I'm stepping off the soapbox now.
Oh wait a sec. Before I get off the soapbox, for anyone who's going to question why I do what I do when I encounter the kind of people who make remarks like those above, I should tell you that for every 5 creepy guys, I get one person who is grateful for those condoms or watched a brother, cousin, best friend die of AIDS and appreciates what I do. And if those creepy guys at least get tested or use those condoms, then my work is done.
Ok, NOW I'm off the box.