Wednesday, November 30, 2011

ONE condoms. We gusta!

So, here at Safety Net, we think hot safe sex can be fun and funny. Why not have a condom ice breaker? We like ONE brand condoms, because they're designed in a round wrapper (makes sense) and have funny, catchy, thoughtful images and slogans on their packaging. You can go to their website and vote on different designs, and part of their profits go to safer-sex-education programs.

My favorite's the "ONE will survive" condom on a disco ball! Or maybe the "hit ONE home." written on the base.

They're also available in different shapes and sizes and have different features. There's classic select (your standard condom), there's the "pleasure dome" which has more room at the tip to enhance sensation and pleasure. Then there's the "sensation" condom which has little "bumps" in the latex along the shaft for a fun new sensation. Check it out! You can submit your own designs too and become the Rembrandt of rubber!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Here's a great article on how to talk to partners about your status.

To tell or not to tell? Whether you are HIV Negative, HIV positive, or don't know (PLEASE get tested if you don't!), talking to your partner about HIV status can be difficult. Here, inSPOT has some great tips and talking points, including ways to talk about it on different occasions:


For many people, it's not easy to start the conversation. Some people rely on nonverbal ways to do it. Others assume that no mention of status at all is actually a way of disclosing. But most people say that the best way is to be direct.
There's not one phrase or expression that works in every situation. And, you'll have to decide for yourself what's the least awkward time and place to initiate the conversation - in the bar, in bed, online? Here are a few examples of what some people have said in different situations.
  • Before we jump in bed, I want you to know that I'm negative. Are you positive or negative?
  • Your bio says that you're positive; I'm negative. So, if we fuck we'll have to use condoms. Is that OK with you?
  • Earlier at the club you said that you didn't know anyone that has HIV. So it doesn't get too awkward later, I want you to know that I'm positive.
  • It seemed like bringing up HIV when we were fooling around was going to ruin it. Since we didn't fuck, that was OK. I hope we can get together again and I wanted you to know that I just tested negative and haven't had risky sex with anyone since.
  • It always feels awkward bringing this up, but I see the potential of this
    going somewhere and I want us to be up front and honest with each other about the kinds of sex we've had since the last time we got tested.

The full article is here: it's a great read!

Friday, November 4, 2011

November's Safety Net Message

November’s Safety Net message to share with your friends:

You’ve got passion in your pants and you ain’t afraid to show it…. Get your “Party Rock”s off this weekend…. Show ‘em you’re sexy and you know it… and use a condom! You’re too hot to be out of commission.

Get tested for HIV and STDs at HGLHC. Email for an appointment.

Once you've shared the above message on Facebook, by email, text, or Tweeted it, let me know by taking our survey and you will be entered to win a gift card for $20 to Dunkin Donuts!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

We're on Twitter, Too

Follow us on Twitter:!/HGLHCSafetyNet

Safety Net Team

Monday, October 31, 2011

October's Safety Net Message

Trick or treat! Be sure to check your candy this Halloween. ;) Get ur HIV&STD testing at HGLHC. More info at or 860-278-4163

Thursday, September 29, 2011

September's Safety Net Message

when you share this month's Safety Net message (below after the break), you'll feel good about reducing the stigma surrounding HIV and you can help remind your friends and facebook-family about safer sex!


Having unprotected sex, also known as barebacking or bareback sex, puts both sexual partners at risk for HIV & other STDs.

Use a condom correctly every time you have sex.

Get tested. Get Answers.
Call the Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective: 860-278-4163


Monday, August 15, 2011

If we can help just ONE....

wow, this video really says it all-- as a healthcare provider, this is why I do the work I do-- and why our Safety Net volunteers are so important. if we help ONE person learn their HIV status, it can impact entire communities. thanks for being a Safety Net volunteer. check out this video!


August's Message -- Please Share This!

“You got his email. You got together. You got off. What else did you get? If you’re sexually active you owe it to yourself, and to your partners, to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV. Call HGLHC at 860-278-4163 for more info & to get tested!”

Share this month's Safety Net message with your friends by posting it on Facebook or Twitter, by texting or emailing it to them, and let us know that you did. You'll be entered to win a drawing for a $20 gift card to WalMart!

Post this message for your friends or send it to them directly, ESPECIALLY men who have sex with men. You'll be setting a great example and encouraging them to make a healthy choice. :) Thanks for pitching in to help keep our community safe and vigilant in the fight against HIV!

Email or fill out our survey here to let us know that you shared the message: 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Isn’t It Ironic? More Musings from Paul Kawata (from the National Minority AIDS Council)

Here's a great article that discusses how HIV could potentially be ended worldwide and thoughts on how to do so:

Isn’t It Ironic? More Musings from Paul Kawata

Wouldn't it be ironic if People with AIDS (PWAs) were the reason we stopped the epidemic?! After all of the blame, all of the discrimination, all of the judgment, there is something quite wonderful about the prospect of PWAs bringing an end to this devastating disease.

At the 6th International Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention, you can feel the excitement as people talk about HIV Prevention Trial Network study 052 or Treatment As Prevention (TAP). At a panel this afternoon, a researcher called it the "light at the end of the tunnel."

TAP is about lowering a community's viral load to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS. It's about getting PWAs to an undetectable viral load as a way to support their individual health and end this epidemic. It's not without challenges, but as one of the speakers said "we may be at the beginning of the end." However, it's going to take PWAs leading the way.

There is something so perfect about this solution. Not only could it stop the epidemic, but it would also benefit individuals living with HIV/AIDS. Researchers also say the solution isn't just for wealthy countries. Treatment As Prevention should be a global goal. With the recent United Nations' commitment to provide HIV treatment to 15 million people by 2015, we may be able to end this epidemic in my lifetime.

However, it's not time to throw away behavioral interventions. The HIV community and researchers mostly agree that it's going to take a combination of approaches. We need to implement structural interventions like TAP and continue with proven behavioral interventions. However, these behavioral interventions need to be scaled up to impact large numbers. We're not talking hundreds of people; these interventions need to impact thousands, if not millions of people.

If I sound ecstatic, I am. However, we are years, if not decades away from solving this epidemic. This solution will require PWAs to be on drug therapy for the rest of their lives or until we find a cure. We still have to figure out how we are going to pay for treatment for millions of people around the world.

In the U.S., we need to:

•Identify HIV positive Americans who do not know they are HIV positive;

•Upon diagnoses, link these individuals into care as quickly as possible; and

•Ultimately, get HIV positive Americans on drug therapy and keep them on it.

At the end of 2008, the CDC estimated there were 1,178,350 Americans living with HIV. Approximately 236,400 people in the U.S. do not know they are HIV positive. Unfortunately, the majority of people living with HIV are not on drug therapy. In fact, the number is somewhere between 250,000 to 350,000 Americans who are currently on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART).

Researchers postulate that there is a benefit for individuals who can bring their viral load to undetectable soon after being infected. It is the time that the virus can do the most damage to your immune system. This is also the time when people are the most infectious and can pass the virus to others. Getting to undetectable viral load early can minimize the damage to the individual and stop the spread of HIV. However, more studies will need to be done.

It's no longer just about the individual, it is also up to PWAs to save their communities. This is a huge shift in our work. Before, we were talking about empowering PWAs -- now we're asking them to save us. That's why they need to lead this effort.

Given the uncertainty of the effects of long-term drug therapy, we may be asking PWAs to put their health on the line. They have reason to be skeptical. But maybe, just maybe, the leadership of people facing the same risks, with the same concerns, displaying the same willingness to risk it all to save their communities, will alleviate some of that skepticism. At the same time, the HIV community must continue to push a research agenda to ensure the long term safety of these drugs, the development of new medications, as well as a viral load test that is rapid and affordable. We must also remain committed to finding a vaccine and a cure for HIV/AIDS.

So how are we going to pay for the drug therapy necessary to stop this epidemic? We can't even get the funds to cover the 8,689* Americans currently on AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) waiting lists. From my perspective, we need to do the following:

1. Between now and 2014, ask the pharmaceutical industry to keep their patient assistance programs open for people who cannot get their drugs via private insurance, Medicaid or ADAP.

2. Enroll HIV positive Americans into PCIPs (Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plans). Depending upon the state, we may be able to use Ryan White funds to pay for the premiums. This could be one of our bridges to 2014.

3. Monitor implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to ensure that the benefit package covers drug therapy for HIV positive individuals.

4. Upon full implementation of ACA, ask the pharmaceutical industry to cut the price of their drugs based on economies of scale. For TAP to work, we will need to triple, if not quadruple, the number of people on drug therapy.

We need to continue our pressure to get everyone covered under ADAP, especially if we are going to increase the number of people on drug therapy. It's a national shame that we have so many Americans on waiting lists. Maybe if policy makers were educated about the connection between treatment of HIV and the prevention of HIV, we might see more funding for this important program.

This is a big plan that requires big leadership. It should be led by People with AIDS, but also must include the government, the HIV community and the pharmaceutical industry. If HIV has taught me anything, I've learned that you have to be bold, you have to be strong, and you have to be willing to compromise. I see a roadmap to end this epidemic. You're damn right I am excited, you should be too.

Yours in the struggle,

Paul Kawata
Executive Director
National Minority AIDS Council

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Things to know in July....

Hope you're all having a happy, safe summer! Some things to update you on:

1) There's a strain of the bacterial STD infection gonorrhea that is becoming resistant to antibiotics, making it harder to treat. Using condoms will help keep you safer from HIV (for which there is NO cure) and STDs like gonorrhea.

2) Many people don't know that HIV testing can be done with rapid tests that are ORAL swabs that use NO BLOOD OR NEEDLES! These tests are just as accurate as a rapid test with blood, plus they are pain-free! You can get results in just 20 minutes.

3) July's Safety Net message to share with your friends is:

"Learn your HIV status in 20 minutes-- it's a test of strength. Get tested, get answers. Confidential HIV & STD testing at Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective. Call (860) 278-4163 or email "

Once you've shared this, take our quick survey and you could win a gift card to Dunkin Donuts!​m/s/3J6X2P8

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July's Safety Net message!

Learn your HIV status in 20 minutes. It's a test of strength. Get tested, get answers. Confidential HIV & STD testing at your convenience: call HGLHC at (860) 278-4163 or email

Share this month's Safety Net message with your friends by posting it on Facebook or Twitter, by texting or emailing it to them, and let us know that you did. You'll be entered to win a drawing for a $10 gift card to Dunkin Donuts so you can get your iced coffee fix on us!

Post this message for your friends or send it to them directly, ESPECIALLY  men who have sex with men. You'll be setting a great example and encouraging them to make a healthy choice. :) Thanks for pitching in to help keep our community safe and vigilant in the fight against HIV!

Email or fill out our survey here to let us know that you shared the message: 

Pool Boys!

Just some pool boys for your entertainment!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Today is National HIV Testing Day!

TODAY is National HIV Testing Day! Get your FREE test at HGLHC or at other locations around the state. No needles, no blood, and your test results are ready in 20 minutes.

Call or email us to find out more! (860) 278-4163 or

Thursday, June 23, 2011

June's Safety Net Message

Summertime is here! June's Safety Net message to share with your friends via text message, email, Twitter, and Facebook is:

You got his attention. You got his number. You got laid. What else did you get? If you’re sexually active you owe it to yourself, and to your partners, to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV. Call HGLHC at 860-278-4163 for more info & to get tested!

Once you've shared this message, take our quick survey to let us know how many of your friends got it! Click here:

Answer a few quick questions and you'll be entered into a drawing to win a $10 gift card to VIP (Very Intimate Pleasures) at any location in CT! Thanks for all that you do!

Some updates...

The CDC estimates that more than 56,000 Americans are infected with HIV every year. More then half of the new infections are among gay men and/or men who have sex with men (MSM) and half are African Americans. The CDC estimates that 235,400 Americans don't know they are HIV positive. Get tested! Call the Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective at 860-278-4163 or email

Also, young people 13-24 years old account for 58.9% of all undiagnosed cases, versus 13.8% for people 45 to 54 years old. However, 45 to 54 year old Americans make up the largest number of HIV cases (385,400).
The CDC also estimated that 350,000 HIV infections were averted due to HIV prevention efforts in 2008. Research has shown that avoiding these infections saved over $125 billon in medical costs. That's why being a part of the Safety Net Team is so important to our communities-- you are helping to keep your friends healthy and safe from HIV. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

May's Safety Net Message

May's Safety Net Message to share with your friends:
Oral sex is safer sex-- oral sex is less risky than anal sex when it comes to HIV. Unprotected anal sex is responsible for almost all HIV transmission between men who have sex with men. If we all agree to use condoms, we could end this epidemic.

Once you've posted this to your Facebook wall or sent it to your friends via text message, email, or private FB message, take this SHORT survey. You could win the drawing for one $20 gift card to Tisane Tea and Coffee Bar for your efforts to help raise awareness about safer sex and HIV prevention in our community.

Survey here:

So, what's up with this message?

Many guys say, "Honestly, I couldn’t imagine getting head with a rubber on. The same goes for giving head/oral sex. I mean, a little piece of latex between me and my dessert? Seems like it would defeat the whole purpose, but once again, I know better."

We all do.

As with anything, knowledge and common sense are power. If you choose to go raw when it comes to oral sex you really have to be smart, if not smarter, about it. Ask your partner questions about their last STD and HIV screening and ask to see their paperwork. If they can’t provide an answer or proof then you have to gauge whether or not you can really trust a big butt/cock and a smile. Just because someone looks clean doesn’t mean they are. You can't tell someone is HIV positive or if they have chlamydia simply by looking at them or lusting after them.

We tend to put a lot of trust into the people we share our bodies with, but sometimes it’s undeserved. Even married folks have seen themselves caught out there by a cheating spouse that brought something home with them that may or may not have a cure. Knowledge is power and all I ask is that you all use it because oral sex is still sex and I want you all to be safe.

When it comes to HIV, oral sex is safer sex than anal or vaginal intercourse. But other infections, like herpes, syphilis, and hepatitis B, can be passed by oral sex. Condoms or other barriers can also be used to make oral sex even safer. HGLHC has a variety of flavored condoms for free, and you can also shop online or go to your local erotic novelty store (VIP, etc) for a wide range of flavors, colors, scents, thicknesses, etc.
Do you consider oral sex the “regular” sex? If so, do you always practice safe (oral) sex? Why or why not? Do you feel that dental dams and condoms “ruin” the intimacy of oral sex? After reading today’s discussion do you feel the same way? When do you have a discussion with your lover about their last STD test? Is that before or after you’ve been intimate? Do you find it “awkward” talking about your sexual history and test results when you’re just getting to know someone? When was your last STD test? Do you take one and demand your lover does before getting intimate? Will you change your oral sex habits moving forward?

Talk back, speak up and lemme know what you're thinking about this, because I hear about it a lot and you guys have the best answers and most insightful discussions. or text/call me at (860).(268).three seven seven seven (3777).

Some content from 

Another great resource: "How Safe is Your Oral Sex?" -

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Condoms: you have so many choices!

A weird but informational video from the guys at The Guide To Getting It On about all the different types of condoms there are out there that can help make safer sex hot, quick and more pleasurable!

Friday, March 25, 2011

March's Safety Net Message

Send out this month's message to your friends, take the quick survey to tell us you did it, and enter our drawing for a chance to win a $25 gift card to CVS this month!

You're not alone! Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective has many social and support groups so you can stay connected, happy & healthy. Go to for info. --Safety Net Team member

Once you've sent this by text, email, or posted it on your Twitter or Facebook account, take this survey to let us know how many people this reached and to enter our monthly drawing for a great prize.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Are you lonesome tonight?

Hey guys! So my colleagues at HGLHC found a study that links HIV- risk behaviors with loneliness and a lack of social connectedness. Here are some excerpts:

“This article examines the Loneliness and Sexual Risk Model (LSRM) which postulates that loneliness is associated with sexual risk behavior and that this relationship is mediated by the influence of substance use and compulsive behavior. Therefore ,successfully addressing loneliness and its underlying causes likely to result in subsequent reductions in risk behaviors”.

“There is a growing body of research that focuses on sexual compulsivity and the use of the internet as a primary vehicle to act out sexually (Dew & Chaney, 2004). Because of the possible consequences of being exposed in public venues and the lack of alternative venues for socialization, the internet is an appealing method for some MSM to meet sexual partners (Brown, Maycock, & Burns, 2005). Internet use facilitates the process of identifying potential sex partners online and setting up sexual encounters among MSM, Model of Sexual Risk 69 which in turn have been associated with a rise of HIV infection in that population (Benotsch, Kalichman, & Cage, 2002). This is particularly true for those who feel a lack of social connectedness (Chaney & Dew, 2003).”

“An efficient and cost-effective way of incorporating social interaction and skill practice into therapy is to provide group interventions. Groups are a social microcosm that can provide individuals with the opportunity to practice social behaviors and interpersonal skills, as well as facilitate the generalization and application of the learned skills to real life in a safe environment.”

So, what do you guys think? We all get lonely, but there are some great alternatives so you can keep yourself surrounded with supportive people and make healthy choices for yourself. Have you checked out our social group for young gay and bisexual men, MPowerCT? Ever heard about our group for men called Living Soulfully, a group that supports the spiritual lives of gay/bi/questioning men?

You can even get out of your loneliness rut by texting or emailing or Facebooking the monthly Safety Net messages! Are you already on our Safety Net team? If not, email Jamie to get started (

The link to the article is here:

Compulsivity, Substance Use, and Loneliness: The Loneliness and Sexual Risk Model (LSRM)
Authors: Hctor L. Torresa; Cheryl Gore-Feltonb

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

News in HIV Treatment Research

From the March issue of the CT HIV/AIDS Planning Consortium News and Notes:

An HIV positive American living in Berlin has been cured from HIV. Reportedly, he has no detectable HIV in his blood after a stem cell transplant he underwent in 2007 to treat leukemia. The transplant was from a donor who carried a gene mutation that has a natural resistance to the virus.

It was by sheer coincidence that the “Berlin Patient” (as he has come to be known) was cured from HIV. The medical team deliberately chose a compatible donor who has a naturally occurring gene mutation that is resistant to the virus that causes AIDS. This type of mutation (known as CCR5delta32) is only found in between 1-3 percent of white poulations of European descendants. The people that have these wonderful genes have a natural protection to HIV.

Unfortunately, this treatment will not be able to help most people infected with HIV. Stem cell transplants are too dangerous and extreme to be used routinely, as many people die using stem cell transplants. The case of the “Berlin Patient”, however, paves a path for constructing a permanent cure for HIV through genetically-engineered stem cells.

I've heard this issue come up a few times at HIV counseling and testing sessions with our clients. While this is promising, it's a LONG ways away from a cure. The best we can do for now is to protect ourselves from HIV by choosing safer sex to prevent HIV infections and prevent the spread of this disease, to avoid contact with blood, and to avoid sharing needles with anyone else.

Stay safe!


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New study says: Half of men may have HPV infections

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Half of men in the general population may be infected with human papillomavirus or HPV, the human wart virus that causes cervical and other cancers, strengthening the case for vaccinating boys against HPV, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

Yikes. Read the full story here:

Smart Phone Apps are Now Helping People Take Their Meds

Pretty cool--- smart phone apps are helping people to remember to take their medications (including HIV meds).

The Importance of Medication Adherence to People Living with HIV/AIDS:

When you take a drug, it gets processed by your body and enters into your blood stream. The HIV drugs need to stay in your blood at certain levels to fight HIV. If the level falls too low, the drugs cannot work well.

When you take your pills on schedule, you keep the right level of the drug in your body. By not taking your medicines on schedule, you risk letting drug levels drop. This may allow HIV to make copies of itself and even make changes (mutations). These mutations can help the virus survive, even when you do take your HIV medication. This is called resistance.

When HIV becomes resistant to a drug you are taking, that drug will probably stop working. This may lead to an increase in your viral load and a decrease in your CD4 cell count. At that point, you will probably have to switch to another HIV drug.

Resistance to one drug can sometimes cause resistance to other drugs you have not taken. (This is called cross-resistance.) Resistance can affect your treatment choices in the future because fewer drugs will work well against your virus.

The best way to prevent resistance is to stick closely to your medication schedule. Some studies suggest that 95 percent adherence may be needed to get the most benefit from HIV treatment. That means missing very few doses.

[from the Well Project: ]

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What'd you get for Valentine's Day?

Hi Safety Net Team!

Please send out the monthly Safety Net message to your friends-- especially men who love men-- and then let us know how many messages you sent by clicking on the survey link after the jump (it's short and sweet, I promise!).

What did you get for Valentine's Day? Hopefully nothing, but get an HIV & STD test to be sure! Get ur HIV test for FREE at HGLHC. Mention the code "SafetyNet" when you make an appointment. 860-278-4163 Get ur HIV test for FREE at HGLHC. Mention the code "SafetyNet" when you make an appointment. 860-278-4163 Now thru 3/14/2011
Once you've shared this message, please take the quick survey here: