[oasis] [columns]

Matt Barton

October 1996

A lot of exciting events are happening this month in Washington DC. Besides the Second Annual IYG National GLBT Youth Festival and the annual P-FLAG Convention, the NAMES Project Foundation is going to have the AIDS Memorial Quilt on full display.

What does the quilt mean to you? Does it mean HIV/AIDS awareness? Fear? Death? To me, the quilt means the everlasting lives of those who fell ill to a virus that many people today still don't know much about.

In an effort to improve myself as a person and help others, I became a certified HIV/AIDS instructor for the American Red Cross. This means that I have been trained to give one to two hour presentations out in the community about HIV/AIDS and prevention. This means that I know the facts and have a multitude of resources available at my disposal.

As a result, I extend a welcoming hand to anyone who has a question about HIV/AIDS. There is nothing to be ashamed of. I am not here to judge you, but to make sure that you are informed.

My goal is to abolish any myths out there about HIV/AIDS. One myth is that someone can not acquire HIV through oral sex. This is untrue; however, the extent of infection orally is in dispute, it is possible that HIV can pass into the bloodstream through openings in the mouth (i.e. sores, bleeding gums, etc.)

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered community has been on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic, but there are those among us who don't have the facts. They might not know how to use a condom properly or maybe they didn't know that HIV can be passed in other ways besides sex.

That's why I'm here. Each month, I will write a column answering some of your questions. Please send your questions to mbarton@inetdirect.net. Confidentiality of respondents is guaranteed.

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