Body Ownership

Carmen Cordis is a rad CHATpdx Sexpert, Activist and Leader in Portland, OR. 

I’ve recently encountered a lot of people, whether they identify inside, outside, or on the fringe of the alphabet soup community (LGBTQQAAPIT-S and any I missed, in no particular order), who have given me an ultimatum, namely that I must make some kind of physical or surgical alteration (of other people’s choosing) to my body or appearance in order to “earn” their acceptance, approval, respect, charity, or support.

I am taking a stand against our culture of non-binary-gender-phobia, body-shaming, photographic alteration, unrealistic body image fixation, cissexism, transphobia, and discrimination based on gender identity, gender presentation, sexual orientation, or bodily appearance.

Carmen Graphic

I am a living, breathing, feeling human being with a heart, a brain, a plethora of dreams, a past, a future, and a story.

I am not someone else’s narrow vision of a quickly-labeled “other” identity that ceases to exist outside of those narrowly imposed boundaries.

I was born with human dignity.  My gender is my own; it does not belong to anyone else.  It cannot be ripped away from me and reshaped by someone else, because no one else owns it.

Likewise, My body is my own. No one the right to make serious, irreversible, potentially harmful or deadly decisions regarding MY BODY but me – and those I designate as my agents in the event that I desire assistance.

Because of the culture of fear, my body has been made into my worst enemy for as long as I can remember.  I also tend to avoid conflict and prefer mediation or compromise in order to diffuse conflict.

Unfortunately, at times I have lost the control of my own body because someone other than myself decided to own my body or change it to suit their desires.

Willingly, or unwillingly, I surrendered my body to someone else, sometimes to avoid external conflict, and found myself waiting for the hell to be over when I began to drown in the internal conflict I created by capitulating.

Carmen Own Post

Too many times, I have tried to destroy my body, in order to satisfy the demands of a fear-hatred culture, and to escape from the hell of conflict by giving up and throwing in the towel, saying, “Okay.  You win.  Are you happy now?”

I no longer wish to propitiate those people who would delight in my destruction.

I deserve to be happy, and one step toward my happiness is to own my own body.

Please consider my words the next time you notice someone (perhaps yourself, even) making serious entitlement claims to someone else’s body, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Please consider my words the next time you notice someone else making serious entitlement claims to your own body, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Do not surrender to anyone who would delight in the destruction or invalidation of your essential self, the self of your definition and determination, the self of your life experience.

No one is infallible, but maybe by educating each other we can make a better world, one step at a time.

Carmen Dignity Post

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Male Birth Control that may also kill HIV?

risug_mechanism

risug_mechanism

Male Birth Control that can also kill HIV?

More often than not, the responsibility of preventing pregnancy falls on female-bodied individuals – birth control pills, the patch, IUDs, insertive condoms, etc. But what about guys who want to take responsibility too? Or women for whom a lot of the standard options don’t work?

Enter a new option: for years, researchers in India have been looking at a technique called RISUGTM (reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance). Basically, a doctor injects a gel into the vas deferens, which are the tubes that the sperm flows through on the way to ejaculation. The gel hardens as it coats the walls of the tubes, and tears apart the sperm as they pass by so that they can’t cause pregnancy. It’s a non-surgical procedure that can last for twenty or more years, and is easily reversible by injecting a solution that dissolves the gel. Within a few months of reversal, fertility should return to normal.

But it doesn’t stop there – now researchers are talking about ways to make the gel also prevent transmission of HIV. There are different

Penis Anatomy

Penis Anatomy

ideas about how it would work – like inactivating HIV in sperm or having the gel release drugs that would kill the HIV downstream (because some components of semen don’t pass through the vas deferens – they come from the seminal vesicles, prostate and bulbourethral glands).

Of course, it’s still in trials so we won’t be seeing it on the market any time soon, but if it works this could be huge! Not only would it be another option for preventing pregnancy, but it would also provide a new way for serodiscordant couples to prevent transmission of HIV to the negative partner.

What do you think? Would you try it? Would you trust your partner if they said they’d had it done?

Sources: http://www.newmalecontraception.org/risug.htm

http://www.medical-hypotheses.com/article/S0306-9877%2805%2900096-4/abstract

Male-Sperm

Male-Sperm

What does the Asian Pacific Islander National HIV/AIDS Awareness Day mean to me?

What does the Asian Pacific Islander National HIV/AIDS Awareness Day mean to me?

I have never heard of the Banyan Tree Project nor National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, which falls next month on May 19. Each year A&PI Awareness day is sponsored by Banyan Tree Project. National Asian Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day goal is too highlight the negative stigma, lack of communication and general awareness of HIV/AIDS in the API community. The theme for 2012 is “Saving face can’t make you safe. Talk about HIV–for me, for you, for everyone.” An idea that is very important to highlight in our community.
Growing up as a Queer Chinese Asian American; I have seen the hush, hush of just talking about the queer community. It’s something you don’t acknowledge nor talk about subject. Heck, I didn’t even know that there are community groups out there dedicating themselves to informing and educating the Asian Pacific Islander Queer community. Over the years, I have to learn to embrace myself, my community and all those that are a part of it. It was recently that I became even deeper part of the queer community and making myself part of the local API group, Asian Pacific Islander Pride, which had made me aware locally of the Asian Pacific Islander community and events. This is step one of many steps in my life to make myself a more engaging part of the API community. I’m proud for simply reaching out and help to increase awareness, decrease negative stereotypes and providing information that helps keep people informed.
Just like the other National HIV/AIDS Awareness Days, it is very important to embrace awareness into the ethnic groups of all backgrounds as those are the ones who generally are looked over and forgotten. I am glad that we, the Queer Asian community, are standing up and putting a voice to bring education and awareness to help make HIV/AIDS less of an impact while ending the stigma of being Queer in API community. The motto this year is for you to make our issue, your issue. Go and simply Speak Up! Get yourself involved in an organization, like Asian Pacific Pride, that you feel strongly with. It’s all starts with YOU.
What does A&PI HIV/AIDS Awareness Day mean to you?

How Breast Milk Can Transmit HIV and Why We Should Inform Women

As one of the last fluids we think about when we think about HIV, I thought it might be helpful for us to learn a little more about the 4th fluid that transmits HIV. Since blood, semen and vaginal secretions have gotten all the attention, why not take a moment and learn a little more about how breast milk can transmit HIV.

What a brief review of the research shows:

  • Infant feeding is estimated to be responsible for anywhere from 5-20% of mother to child transmission. If a child is born HIV-negative to a positive mother who is not on antiretroviral treatment, the risk associated with prolonged breastfeeding is estimated at 10-20%.
  • HIV RNA is found in breast milk and the risk of transmission is directly related to the viral load in the mother’s milk.  Some mothers may have a specific gene (SDF1 3’A allele) that causes increased viral replication in breast milk and therefore increases transmission risk.
  • Although breastfeeding from an HIV-positive mother poses a risk of HIV transmission to the infant, there is also evidence that it provides better health outcomes for the child than formula feeding (protective against other infectious diseases)
  • The World Health Organization promotes alternative (formula feeding) only when it is  “affordable, feasible, acceptable, sustainable and safe.” When ARVs are widely available and breastfeeding is a social norm, they recommend that HIV-positive mothers breastfeed until 12 months of age.
  • Women who are on antiretroviral treatment while breastfeeding have a lower risk of transmitting HIV to their infant. (about 3.5% in one study in Kenya)
  • Exclusive breastfeeding has been associated with a reduced risk of late HIV transmission as compared to mixed feeding. Mixed feeding practices (breast milk plus other liquids or solids) and prolonged breastfeeding (more than 6 months) are associated with increased risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding is hard. Barriers include low milk production, lack of control over the feeding situation, and both perceived and enacted stigma.
  • Infants can develop resistance to HIV medications independent their mother’s resistance – that is, the mother is not necessarily passing on a resistant virus, but if the infant becomes infected while breastfeeding and the mother is on ARV, the infant is being exposed to small amounts of the drugs through breast milk and may therefore develop resistance to them.

The more we can inform women about the risks and benefits associated with breastfeeding, as well as things that can reduce the risk, the better able they will be to make the best decision for themselves and their infants.

Some of the articles/abstracts, if you want to read more in-depth:

WHO Guidelines:

A systematic review of a number of publications on HIV and breastfeeding:

How genetics may impact transmission rates:

Drug resistance:

Large Breastfeeding study in Kenya:

Difficulties of exclusive breastfeeding:

Viral load:

If anyone is still reading,

To kill HIV in breast milk, flash-heating breast milk can inactivate HIV without destroying too many of the vitamins or immunoglobulin in the milk that make it beneficial to the baby. The WHO recommends it as an option to reduce vertical HIV transmission in resource-poor regions. Of course, to do this the mother has to express the milk first, then heat it, then feed it via bottle – so it’s kind of a compromise between breastfeeding, which could transmit HIV, and bottle feeding formula, which has other nutritional/gastrointestinal risks.

What do you think? How has this changed how you think about HIV? Has it changed any of your thoughts?

Don’t be silly, Wrap up that Willie!

Condoms are GRRREAT! When used correctly they help protect you from a whole host of bacterial and viral infections (they’ll also keep you from getting preggers if that’s one of your concerns).

But I’m not going to talk about statistics or the basics of how to use a condom (here’s some videos on the basics if you wanna brush up). For right now, I’m going to talk more about how condoms can increase your pleasure during sex – yeah, that’s right, I said INCREASE your pleasure.

First, there are tons of different types of condoms. Big ones, snugger ones, ones with spirals, bumps, ridges, pleasure pockets, and bends. Ones that make you tingle, ones that are thinner and some that are thicker. Plus, all sorts of flavors (fyi, flavored condoms should only be used for oral sex because they can cause problems for the va-jay-jay and the bum). All those condom “extras” aren’t just there for show; they can increase different sensations and make sex feel better (and last longer!). But, hey, don’t take my word for it; conduct your own research experiment to figure out what you like. And for extra fun you can learn how to put on a condom with your mouth. It helps incorporate condoms into sex play and is also a pretty neat party trick. It’s a good idea to practice this beforehand so that you don’t damage the condom with your teeth. I’m sure your partner will have no problem letting you practice, but if so, then revert to the old banana standby. Different folks like different strokes so this might not be for you. Half the fun is finding out what you like!

Now, let’s talk lube! Lube ain’t just for anal sex. Lube and condoms are like peas and carrots; they complement each other very nicely no matter where you’re sticking your dingy.

Is lube a new venture for you?  No worries, I’ll walk you through it. Put a drop of water based or silicone based lube on the erect penis before putting on the latex or polyurethane condom (trust me on this) and then as much as you like on the outside of the condom or directly on the vagina or rumpus. Reapply lube as needed while you’re doing the deed (dry sex causes too much friction which can cause the condom to break). People always ask me what the best lube is, and while I hear lots of great things about silicone based (my favorite being, “you can slip n’ slide on gravel with that stuff!”) the fact is that it’s really a personal choice. So depending on what you’re into it may vary.  Here’s a list of different lube pros and cons to help get you started.

That’s all for now, but check back soon for our next installment of Hotflash!

In the meantime, if you have questions or wanna talk about more fun ways to reduce your risk then give the Oregon AIDS/STD Hotline a call at 800.777.2437 or chat with them live online at www.oregonaidshotline.com. The Hotline Volunteers are super nice, nonjudgmental, and ready to answer all your burning questions! We’re here Monday-Friday 9am-6pm and Saturday 12pm-6pm (pacific).

National A&PI HIV/AIDS Awareness Day May 19th 2011

Asian Pacific Islander Pride and Cascade AIDS Project will be commemorating National Asian and Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Thursday May 19th.  We invite everyone in our communities to join us!  We will be discussing HIV/AIDS related issues during our Monthly Happy Hour (Element Restaurant & Lounge, 1135 SW Morrison Street, Portland, 5-9pm). This event is part of a larger effort organized by The Banyan Tree Project, a national social marketing campaign to stop HIV/AIDS-related stigma in Asian & Pacific Islander (A&PI) communities.  
There are similar events being held in many cities across the country (visit www.banyantreeproject.org for more information).
  
The theme of the 2011 Campaign is HIV/AIDS and API Women.  While HIV is still seen as a men’s issue, the disease continues to rise unchecked among A&PIs and A&PI women in particular. Recent analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that A&PIs have the highest rate of increase in new HIV infections in the nation, the only statistically significant growth among any racial or ethnic group, and yet two-thirds of A&PIs have never been tested for HIV. The rate of increase for A&PI women is actually higher than that of A&PI men, but the misconception that A&PIs are not at risk for HIV persists–even among healthcare providers who discourage A&PIs from getting tested. In fact, a recent study by Dr. Hyeouk Chris Hahm (a leading researcher on A&PI women’s sexual health from Boston University) indicates that A&PI women are less likely than other ethnic groups to be offered an HIV test in OB/GYN settings. A number of factors contribute to the HIV risk for A&PI women, including a lack of targeted HIV prevention information for women, unequal power dynamics in sexual relationships, biological differences and the fact that a woman’s HIV risk is often indirect. A woman’s HIV risk is her partner’s HIV risk and many women in monogamous relationships are shocked when they test positive. Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of A&PI women living with HIV got it through heterosexual contact (86%).
 

“By 2050, A&PIs will represent about 11% of the US population,” says Lance Toma, executive director of A&PI Wellness Center in San Francisco. “We could be facing a public health disaster if we
fail to address the rise in HIV and STD infections in our communities now.” Another significant issues related to HIV/AIDS that is relevant to the API community is HIV-related stigma, which refers to the severe individual, family and community shame or disgrace associated with HIV. API’s living with HIV are blamed for their condition and are punished—by exclusion, isolation, prejudice and discrimination—for contracting the disease. They are often vilified and reduced to stereotypes—drug users, gay men, sex workers—with little regard for their individual experience or situation. In the A&PI community, HIV-related stigma is so powerful that people avoid talking about sex or HIV entirely. This silence feeds the fear and misconceptions about HIV transmission. For A&PIs, an HIV-positive test result can shame and disgrace the individual, as well as the family and community.  By raising awareness and openly talking about HIV/AIDS, sexuality and sexual health issue, we can help to erase this stigma and reduce HIV transmission and its impact in API communities.

API Pride is an organization led by and for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent in Oregon. We provide safe and supportive environments and opportunities to celebrate, educate and bring our communities together. For questions or concerns, please contact us by email at api.pride@gmail.com or visit our blog:  http://api-pride.blogspot.com

What’s in a name?

Some of you have asked, “why the name CHATmosphere Ernesto?” We’ll I’ll tell you why. A few months ago we came to our facebook page with challenge. We wanted our “fans” to submit their own ideas of what we should name our blog. Much to our surprise many people wrote in with ideas like:

CHATter Box    CHATblog    Not your parents blog    Sex-ish      Body-talk      sexCHAT Off the Curb

And of course CHATmosphere. After a few rounds of choosing favorites, (done by an anonymous panel of experts, or sort of experts actually) they arrived at the final conclusion that CHATmosphere would be the best name to call our blog.

Mitchell is a 21 year old student at Portland State University studying English and Philosophy with an end goal of becoming a superhero. Here is what our good friend Mitchell S. had to say about why he submitted CHATmosphere as a name for our blog.

How did you first hear about CHATpdx?:

CHATpdx utilizes social media via Facebook and Twitter etc. to grab the attention of youth around the city.

So inevitably, they found me on Facebook which isn’t all that hard of thing to do.

Why “CHATmosphere”?

Discussion of safe sex, youth sex, sex in general should be inviting and comfortable. CHATmosphere is a place that’s safe for youth to drop in and CHAT; it’s an atmosphere of community, advice and involvement.

What does HIV mean to you?

HIV—knowledge of it—is a reality of a sexually active life

Why HIV is still an important issue for youth?

Knowledge is power: knowledge of prevention, knowledge of your status, knowledge of support, all of these things empower youth to take control of their own sexual lives and assert what’s important.

For the winning entry Mitchell got a giftcard to Trader Joes. Keep a look out for more contests in the future. With any luck you might be our next winner.