Saturday, March 26, 2016

Get your freak on.......but do it safely!!!

* Image from the site GetDownPSA

Now 2 weeks into my dual roles of chemistry professor and data analyst/PhD student, and it still feels surreal to be in the place I've prayed about for so very long! And at the top of that list is working with genuinely kind people which hadn't happened to the extent I'm experiencing now since I left the NIH in 2005. And 11 years a LONG time to mostly "swim with sharks" but with God's grace, I SURVIVED!!!! :)

I also realized this week that because of the nature of the patients my group works with (people living with HIV (PLWHIV) I won't be able to be as forth coming about my experiences as I would like thanks in large part to the stigmas that still exist for people who are HIV positive. But I will be able to talk about all the interesting things I'm learning about the disease and the measures many large cities are taking to decrease incidence in our communities.

By being back in the HIV clinical research game, I recall alot about the nuances of human sexual behavior from my time as a volunteer AIDS educator at a large urban center and at the University of Florida in the early 90's, and also as an administrator at the state level for an HIV/STD/TB program. But though I lived in a known "swingers" neighborhood in the metro DC area for almost 11 years in the 00's and 10's, I'd forgotten until recently just how much people like to get their freak on. Now let me state on the onset I'm NOT making judgements about people's sexual behaviors. But the idea that HIV prevention organizations send folks out to "sex houses" to distribute condoms and provide on the spot HIV testing, blows my mind!! One "establishment" even requires everyone there be completely naked not long after entering, so that one was taken off the list of possibles places to provide services! But what would REALLY blow people's minds (or perhaps not) is the fact that the people who also frequent these places are NOT your run of the mill crack hos and IV drug abusers. The patrons of these establishments are also MARRIED CEOs of major companies and board members of national organizations. In other words, don't believe the hype of who's at risk for HIV infection!!! IMHO, if you're having sex married or not, you're at risk the only question is how big (or small) your risk is!!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

It's getting hot in here!!

One of the really odd aspects of my life these days is going through menopause ie hot flashes. And I say odd because I can't recall too many women talking/blogging about it.

But I'm thrilled to be aging reasonably well and I'm one of the few middle aged women I know actually looking forward to being 50 years old:

In fact, I wouldn't wish to be a (FAR less) confident 20 or 30 something for all riches in the world!!

Movin' on, my kid has had a crush on these two (Les Twins) for as long as I could remember:

Which is very interesting because: 1) She NEVER dances anymore and these guys are AMAZING dancers and 2) She NEVER sings out loud, and these guys are featured in vidoes by Beyonce' and Missy Elliott. So when she learned they were coming to town and wanted to go meet them I thought it was a little odd. When none of her friends could go with her (they're all out of town for Spring Break) and wanted me to go with her, I thought it was REALLY strange, LOL!!! But I decided to go anyway, and we had a GREAT time!!

Now I was a dancer back in the day and was cofounder of the dance team at the University of Florida, a group I started after years of trying out for the majorette squad and not being selected (they'd only had one Black majorette since the school became coed in the 50's). In fact, the majorette squad used to perform at basketball games, in addition to during half time with the band during football games). But they were displaced by the dance team for b-ball games, so it was a GREAT bit of sweet revenge for me, LOL!!! Anyhoo, I still dance as a means of getting exercise and hip-hop dancing is a good for your core/abs. So while was I was super adverse to going, it turns out there were quite a few Moms/Grandmothers (probably former dancers too) there too with their kids/grandkids for the dance workshop and meet/greet. Needless to say, it's an experience my daughter and I will both remember for the rest of our lives!!!

Here's a Beyonce' video with Les Twins and they're also dancers on her tours:

Saturday, March 12, 2016

They mean well, but they're REALLY out of touch!

This is what I was thinking as I was sitting at a regional meeting of AIDS researchers and Physicians this past week. And my other thought was that of the 5 Black people there, not ONE had much to say about what I was hearing that literally left my mouth hanging open. Things like the fact that according to CDC data recently published, Black men that sleep with men have a 1:2 lifetime risk of contracting HIV. That's 50:50!!! WTH?!?!??!

I'll keep this short, it's IMPOSSIBLE to affect adequate change in the health status of a community when you don't thoroughly understand its "culture", even when your intentions are in the right place. Put another way, I'll fit right in as an Internist that happens to have an AIDS/HIV research background too. Interestingly, I haven't been "active" in the HIV/AIDS community for over 20 years and it's an understatement to say that things have really changed! From the drugs used in treatment (there were very few back in the day) to who's more likely to be infected with HIV (when I was an AIDS counselor in the 90's, gay, White, men topped that unfortunate list), the field has changed in a TON of ways that leave me giddy with excitement with all the new things I'm going to learn! Yes, my role will be primarily an analytical one, but I'll also have opportunities to go into the field and work with the Physicians that lead the team I'm working on. And that is SUPER cool!!

Movin' on, my MCAT study is going well so there's not much to update there. I'm going to register for the exam as soon as I find out what my summer PhD class schedule is going to be and that should be by the end of March/early April. I'm still thinking about a late June/mid July exam at the latest, since I don't want to be bogged down with final exams for my Chemistry students as well as my own final exams.  Again, having to set a specific schedule works so much better for me than having too much "freedom" of choice.