The Panel Discussion

I'm sure most of you have heard that there will be a Panel Discussion following the October 29th matinee of Angels. I am very excited about this. We've got doctors and nurses and patients coming to talk in the aptly titled "HIV in Baltimore - What's Next?" discussion.
The need for this discussion (and it is exactly that; open dialogue) was incredibly apparent after the first week of rehearsal. While talking with The Shannons and Gabriel during our post-rehearsal drinkies, we discovered a huge disconnect between the generations regarding how one looks at the HIV/AIDS virus.
Shannon H. and I are the youngins. We didn't grow up in the 80s, during the time of huge fear and homophobia tied to this virus. By the time I knew what the hell it was, there was already a pretty reasonable treatment in place; the virus wasn't a "death sentence" anymore. It could be dealt with, it could be corralled, and the medical community knew better with what they were dealing with.
However, this is posing a problem for my generation and those younger than me. For those aforementioned reasons, the "young" kids today are not taking care of themselves, not practicing safe sex, and, in one particular, horrible, group, trying to catch the disease, thinking it's a gift. The "Bug Catchers" they're called. I haven't heard anything recently about them, but I'm sure they still haven't come to their senses.
Now, I'm the first one to admit being totally complacent about this virus. It was an 80's disease, an ancient plague. The Multiple Priors scene is exactly what I'm talking about. I've had the un-safe sex. Many times. I think I was tested once before I went to college.
With all the research I've done in the past months, it pains and scares the poop out of me that I was so stupid. Psychosomatic thoughts rushed through my head every time I read something about virus. Luckily, the most recent blood test was negative. Bullet dodged.
The Panel is being used as a device to reach the younger crowd. To say, "Yes, the perception and the treatments have gotten better, less expensive, and you can live with this for many many years. But please, please don't be stupid. I can happen to you. Get tested. Respect yourself enough to say, 'Put the rubber on honey,' or, 'Let me do it.'"
Baltimore is 5th on the list in new cases every year. I've never known that. With all the guys I've met and had sex with in this city, that kinda scares me. Are they being just as stupid as I was? A study estimated that about 1/4 of those living with the virus have no idea they're infected. Not a pleasant thought.
Anyway, enough with the preaching. Come and see this Panel Discussion, with speakers from the University of Maryland Institute for Human Virology, the Evelyn Jordon Center, Planned Parenthood, and Chase Brexton. It should be very informative. Tell your friends!!

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