Sexuality informational articles

A fragile lifeline: education i academic answering the aids hotline - sexuality

 

Dial 1-800/AIDSNYC

Every Monday and Wednesday morning, at the appointed time at 10 a. m. , I leave at the back of my daily life and turn to volunteering as an AIDS Hotline psychotherapist at New York City's GMHC [Gay Men's Fitness Crisis], the nation's main common benefit agency for AIDS.

For the next four hours, my co-volunteers and I sit in front of a bank of constantly-ringing telephones, conversation to men, women, and teens who call in from athwart the inhabitants with urgent questions about AIDS, the ravaging disease that has left 13. 9 million associates dead worldwide.

After just about 20 years, a whole generation, families are still facing the heartache of tending the sick, while scientists carry on to be baffled by this stubborn, ravaging virus.

Although the central administration at present spends$4 billion per year on AIDS research, and $15 billion worldwide, there is no cure in sight for the viral infection and no vaccine available. Small awe that the GMHC AIDS Hotline, the nation's first, is flooded with more than 40,000 calls each year.

Listening to callers 8 hours each week, I often think the Hotline is in reality a direct link to the soul of callers--an everyday forum that allows each to reveal secrets and fears that they might or else never argue with anyone. A Dawn in May

This is the way it began: "Good morning, GMHC AIDS Hotline, can I help you?"

"Yes. . . I have a question. . . [hesitantly] My son. . . he's 21. . . and he just found out. . . he's HIV-positive [voice breaking] I'm. . . . . alone, divorced. And I need some help. . . someone to talk to. . . "

"Of course. . . . happy to talk to you. . . it sounds like this has been devastating for you. . . . "

"It's terrible. He told me two nights ago. . . . he's. . . he's so young. . . . I don't want him to die. He's my only child. . . . why did this have to happen?" [crying]

Her son, she explains, had every now and then neglected using condoms, certain he wouldn't become infected with HIV infection from his female partners.

"How could he be so stupid?" she now asks angrily. "Why didn't he know how to guard himself? I don't understand. What am I going to do?"

We talk for 35 minutes, and by the end of the conversation, I become aware of I'm barely breathing. The distressed woman's anguish is palpable. Her circumstances is every mother's worst nightmare. The life of her child is in peril and she feels helpless and afraid. I can't conceive of whatever thing worse.

During the call, I do my best to employ the GMHC Hotline protocol of "active listening," which involves using silence, understanding and gentle interested with open-ended questions. I'm also having my own emotional answer to the panic in her voice, and I'm apprehensive about whether I'm doing enough.

Toward the end of the clal, when she exclaims: "I don't want my baby to die," my heart plummets: "I know. . . . I appreciate that, but there is hope," I tell her. I find in my opinion on the verge of tears. The Bad News

This mother's story is too common. According to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga. , 40,000 Americans (half of them under 25) are newly infected with the AIDS virus each year. Insecure sex and intravenous drug use keep on the principal modes of transmission.

"Teenagers," notes AIDS advanced Elizabeth Taylor, "are being very hard hit. " She refers to the three million teenagers who agree to a sexually-transmitted disease annually.

"Heterosexual teenage football players who are good for your health and drink milk can get it too!" says the 71-year-old actress, who has singlehandedly raised $150 million for AIDS research. "But teens are very ignorant and feel invincible. They believe there's an imaginary armor caring them from the virus, when it's actually aimed right at them. "

Taylor believes in addressing the badly behaved head-on: "Tell your teenage son: 'Maybe a condom doesn't feel as good, but if it saves your life, it's develop than being six feet under. ' Acumen must exchange casual sex. "

Although a new age group of AIDS-fighting medications is prolonging the lives of thousands, near half of the 900,000 colonize infected with HIV in the U. S. cannot come up with the money for these drugs. Since the virus was exposed in l981, 410,800 Americans have died from AIDS-related complications, and the disease has left 13. 9 million dead worldwide.

Who Calls a Hotline?

Not long ago I took a call from a 15-year-old boy alive in a small town who said he feels guilty about his sexual attraction to other boys and is scared to discuss this with his parents. I ask him if there's a drill psychoanalyst or comparative he might talk to, but he says he's too frightened to divulge in anyone.

Being a teenager is hard enough, I thought, lacking the bully of keeping this kind of secret. I felt angry and saddened that this child can't comfortably confer his feelings with his own parents.

I cheer him to call the Gay Area Base Youth Course in a nearby city. In the meantime, I certain him that he could call our Hotline anytime, that we'd be there for him.

This call was characteristic of the many we get from teenagers,whispering from their parents' homes, confiding their burgeoning sexual feelings and concerns. Our Hotline also receives calls from married men who phone from their offices, worried about extramarital sexual encounters; gay men agony side belongings from medications; mothers caring for a sick child or mournful for one lost to AIDS; even healthiness care professionals themselves bewildered and requiring burnout support.

One actual morning, I'm struck by the digit of distinct women who turn to our hotline for help. At 10:15 a. m. a flustered young woman calls, explaining that she had been dating a celebrity "very charismatic," after a two- year age of sexual abstinence.

"At first we used condoms and I was charming the pill to avoid pregnancy," she says. But after her partner confident her he was HIV-negative, the combine began having exposed sex. A few months into the relationship, she recounts, his behavior became "unpredictable," until he as a final point admitted he was sleeping with other women and was addicted to heroin. Now she has to endure the "terror" of behind you 3 months beforehand being paid an HIV antibody test. To help her cope, I give her the names of three terapists in her area. The call lasts 43 minutes.

At 11:15 a. m. I take a call from a woman who is breathing heavily. She says that four months at an earlier time she'd had a brief event with a limousine driver, "not out of passion, but for the reason that I felt lonely. This was so entirely contrasting me," she continues. "I come from a established Orthodox Jewish family. . . " Although they used condoms, and she has since hardened depressing for HIV, she feels genuinely ashamed, and has clogged bearing in mind him. And as she has both a persistent vaginal yeast infection and a rash on her neck, she's confident she must be infected by HIV.

Although rashes, high fever, blown up lymph glands, heavy night sweats, sore throat, or other flu-like symptoms may designate HIV, they can just as certainly accompany the communal cold or flu, or other type of infection. I egg on her to seek health help and counseling, but the calls ends on a down note. "I must have it [AIDS]," she moans. I'm incensed for the reason that it doesn't sound that way to me, yet I can't get by means of to her. The call lasts 22 minutes.

It's 11. 38 a. m. when a well-spoken woman, who says she's an attorney, calls from her office, asking for the names of dull difficult sites. At first very businesslike, she peacefully takes down all the information. I ask her why she's making an allowance for a test. Total silence. Then she begins to cry: "I. . . . I can't talk. . . . I'm sorry. . . you see, I have distended lymph glands. . . . [crying]. . . . And my doctor wants to rule out HIV. . . I feel overwhelmed. . . " Then, abruptly: "Where can I send a donation?" She appreciation me and hurries off the phone after just 3 minutes.

These were one-time callers, but, as in any epidemic, an amount of panic prevails, and our hotline also attracts an army of "chronic" or go over callers who are intensely abysmal no affair how caring their risk, many illuminating continued misconceptions and paranoia about a disease that can be for practical purposes prevented. We do our best to help them, but often they're inflexible to counseling.

Most emotional are calls we get from AIDS patients, phoning from their hospital beds, attempting to direct the exhausting jumble of assurance and shape care matters. One man, in sanatorium care, said he craved companionship and missed the "good old days" when he was attractive and healthy.

That call was a tough one for me as just the day ahead of a close associate of mine, Joe, who had battled HIV for 16 years, had at length succumbed. Though at the end Joe was a mere skeleton, he was nonetheless at peace. "I've done what I required to," he told me on our last visit. An avid gardener, he insisted on a final trip to his land house to see his plot one last time. For a moment the caller's authenticity and the recall of my late associate fuzzy in my mind and I was overcome. Time for a break.

Face to Face

One of the most and exclusive armed forces GMHC offers is called "A-Team Counseling," a one-time, in-person assembly that's free and anonymous.

Recently, I was on an A-Team counselling a 26-year-old HIV-infected mother from the Midwest. She had traveled to Manhattan by bus to find her estranged boyfriend, who, she recounted tearfully, had kidnapped her 7-year- old son. Disheveled, painfully thin, the woman was a alarming sight. She's learned that the two had before now returned home where the boyfriend was, and the child put in his grandmother's custory. charge of his grandmother. Meanwhile she'd run out of money for the come back trip, been refused a loan by her family, lost her ID, gone hungry and spent two nights on the street.

Fortunately, this woman was registered at a local AIDS company in her town. I telephoned her caseworker and convinced him to buy her a one-way Greyhound bus receipt for $115. 00. I also gave her subway tokens, a basket of food, juice and coffee. Smiling shyly, she thanked me for caring.

Shaking hands good-bye with this woman was a bittersweet farewell. What will come about to her? I wondered will her shape depreciate or improve? Will she gain be in charge of of her life and be able to bestow for her son? I'll never know. One thing I do know: She'd appeared with the be sad of a arduous life in her eyes, but when she left, she was excited at the brain wave of being reunited with her child. It seems that with faith and a portion hand, approximately something is possible. * * * * *

10 Largest MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT AIDS AND HIV (This list would maybe be most helpful when existing in a vertical chart, the error on the left, the adjust counter on the right. )

1)The AIDS virus can be transmitted because of saliva, sweat, tears, urine or feces; also because of deep kissing.

1) HIV can ONLY be transmitted by means of four forcibly fluids: blood, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk--and can also be transmitted from a protect to her child ahead of birth, at some point in birth, or while breast feeding. The altercation of dribble all through kissing is no-risk, if not the spit has blood in it and both you and your partner are flow of blood in the mouth simultaneously.

2) HIV may also be transmitted because of casual call with an infected person.

2) You can't get infected from toilet seats, phones or water fountains. The virus can't be transmitted in the air all through sneezing or coughing. You can't get HIV from allocation paraphernalia or food or from touching, or hugging. HIV dies after being exposed to the air. Therefore, heartrending dried blood on a shred blade, a toothbrush or a bathroom answer top is no risk. In any case, constant skin is impermeable, like a rubber raincoat, and cannot absorb the virus whether it's alive or dead.

Blood transfusions and health procedures in the U. S. are safe. Benevolent blood is completely risk-free. The attempt of receiving HIV from dentists or other fitness care providers is too low even to measure. You can't get it from mosquitoes or other insect or beast bites.

3) Oral sex is just as risky as vaginal or anal intercourse.

3) Even if not 100% risk-free, oral sex is careful a low-risk activity,except if: you have flow of blood gums, fresh dental work, open sores such as a herpes lesion, any cut, blister, or burn in the mouth, or if you've just brushed or flossed your teeth. Also, oral sex with an infected woman is riskier if she is having her period, since menstrual blood can confine HIV. Overall, latex barriers, (such as condoms or dental dams) used for the duration of oral sex bring down the transmission of not just HIV, but other sexual transmitted diseases.

4) Brute skin, latex and polyurethane condoms are all evenly helpful in preventing HIV infection and you can use ANY lubrication on the condom desired.

4)Only latex or polyurethane condoms may be used, as HIV can pass all through an bodily skin condom. With latex condoms, only water-based lubricants--like K-Y jelly or H-R jelly--may be used. No lubricants with oil, alcohol, or lubricant are safe. Petroleum jelly,Vaseline, Crisco, sandstone oil, baby oil, manipulation oil, butter and most hand creams can damage the condom and cause it to split. However, with polyurethane condoms, petroleum-based lubricants can be used.

5) Women have to rely on men using condoms at some point in intercourse to keep themselves adjacent to HIV. 5) Women may employ the "female condom," a artificial casing that can be inserted in their vaginas and used for defense alongside HIV. It can be inserted up to 8 hours beforehand sex, has rings at both ends to hold it in place and can be lubricated with oil-based lubricants that stay wet longer. In addition, women can carry conformist condoms for their male partners' use.

6) If a woman is HIV-positive, her offspring will inevitably be born infected with HIV. 6) With no health check care taken, about 25% of HIV-positive women will give birth to infants who are also infected. However, the use of anti-HIV medications has resulted in a hefty decline of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in utero and at some stage in approach to less than 5%. (NYT 10/19/ 99].

7) AIDS is necessarily a gay disease contracted by white males. 7) Hot data compiled by the Centers for Disease Check and Prevention indicate that young gay Hispanic and African-American men and heterosexual women are the greatest budding segment of the residents being infected with HIV. Women now bill for 43% of all HIV infected colonize over age 15. [NYT 11/24/98] African-American and Hispanic women checking account for more than 76% of AIDS cases among women in the U. S.

8) Heterosexual men are not exceedingly at risk for contracting HIV, even if they don't use condoms. 8) The exclusive breach of the penis is collected of highly-absorbent, sponge- like mucous covering tissues, which can bestow a route for HIV-infected vaginal secretions or blood to enter the bloodstream. Apt condom use protects men from infection.

9) The AIDS contagion is basically over as new AIDS medications like protease inhibitors and others have curved AIDS into a chronic, not a deadly disease. 9) In the U. S. , AIDS is the fifth chief cause of death for ancestors 25-44 years old. About half of all those infected with HIV in the U. S. are not being paid any medications or health check care. AIDS now kills more ancestors worldwide than any other infection, plus malaria and tuberculosis. [NYT 11/24/98] In 1998 alone, 2. 5 million associates died of AIDS worldwide. 13. 9 million associates have died since the virus was bare in 1981.

10) If you think you've been exposed to HIV by means of exposed sex, you can take an HIV antibody test 2 weeks later and get an correct result.

10) The average "window" or behind you episode ashes a full 3 months. However, because the widely-used HIV antibody tests (The ELISA and Western Blot) have become so sensitive, about 95% of citizens will attain an perfect consequence 4-6 weeks after a likely exposure to the virus.

* * * * [Note:The in a row acknowledged above was reviewed for medicinal correctness by Dr. Todd J. Yancey, an communicable disease specialist involved in New York City and affiliated with New York Presbyterian Hospital, NY, Cornell Campus. ]

THE CHILD LIFE PROGRAM

"Mommy takes a lot of medicine and Mommy's exceedingly tired every now and then and she can't take you to the park as much as she used to. It's not that I don't love you. . . and that I don't want to. . . but Uncle Jack's going to take you to the park today. " --A protect breathing with AIDS, a client at GMHC, chatting to her 6-year- old son.

In New York City alone, 28,000 offspring have been orphaned by AIDS since the epidemic began [NYT 12/13/98]

GMHC's distinctive Child Life Code serves HIV-infected parents and their children--who may, or may not, be infected with the virus. "We help families strengthen their capability to cope, relieve the burden of parenting with assist services, and teach parents how to talk to their kids," says Child Life Course Coordinator Alison Ferst. "Unfortunately, must a mother or child be sick enough to be facing death, we also help them walk by means of it with grace and dignity---as different to affection alone, cut off and frightened.

"We also egg on sick parents to make committed legal plans for their children who may be left behind," adds Ferst, "and to have admission conversations with the brood in advance, so you don't have a child duration at her mother's funeral, not sure where she's going next. "

When an HIV-infected Mom arrives at GMHC to have lunch, concentrate a assist group, consult with a lawyer, or admittance the acupuncture clinic, she can leave her brood in a drudgery playroom, decked with fantastic murals and a giant tree hand-painted by the famed children's story author and illustrator, Maurice Sendak, who donated his art. [see photos] The code provides: child- sitting, sustenance services, a food pantry, art and magic classes, and recreational trips--church picnics, recurring apple-pumpkin picking, amusement parks, zoos, museums, beaches. Also: grounding help sessions, holiday parties, sanatorium visits, summer sports and weekly aid groups for HIV- assured parents and their HIV-negative children.

This exceptional course also features: Cooking lessons for kids who every now and then prepare meals for sick parents; Pediatric Buddies, GMHC adult volunteers who play with sick kids and also assist with category chores; Fun With Feelings Support Group, Friday Late afternoon Category Time, Birthday parties, and a Festival Gift Drive.

"Children infected or artificial by AIDS," concludes Ferst, "want to be like other kids: They want to play with their friends, want to know that a big cheese will at all times take care of them, want to know they're not alone, and often wonder if it's their fault when Mom or Dad gets sick. " These family need a helping hand and any of us can bestow one.

Bestselling biographer GLENN PLASKIN is one of the nation's important psychology reporters and fame interviewers. His department today is interviewing the nation's top experts in spirituality, motivation, happiness, and self- improvement. A contributing editor at Category CIRCLE, the world' s leading women's magazine, he is accessible for TV, radio, and print interviews. He also coaches those attracted in journalism articles and books. He can be contacted directly: glenfamilycircle@aol. com

He is the cause of two books--HOROWITZ--the biography of Vladimir Horowitz--and Rotating POINT: Central Moments in the Lives of America's Celebrities. His celeb interviews have appeared in Ancestors Circle, US, Ladies Home Journal,Playboy, the New York Times, the New York Daily News, and more than 50 U. S. newspapers.


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