This is going to make me sound like a doddering old homo, but I have come to the realization late in my queer career that HIV is a young gay man's disease.
OK, let me explain.
I was walking down Southwest Stark Street a couple of Tuesdays ago when I came upon a large line of beautiful young men waiting to enter a building. I assumed either these pretty boys were waiting for an open casting call for Gus Van Sant's next opus or someone was giving out free cologne samples. Ever curious, I approached one pierced fella. "Are you here for free movie passes?" I asked. "No, it's for HIV and STD testing," he politely replied. Oh my god, I thought as I walked away.
My OMG moment wasn't because I felt sorry for this group of gays. I was thrilled they were doing the right thing. My freak-out came via the fact these brave soldiers were doing something I could never do: line up, in broad daylight, to get tested for HIV. Like the experts say, this is a disease we need to learn to live with—not die from in shadowy shame. That includes me.
Over the years I've written a lot about HIV. Most of my rants are filled with guilt and the sense that I no longer have a real place in this ongoing crisis. For example, this Saturday, May 12, Cascade AIDS Project hosts its 17th annual art auction. I used to help out at this event. Now, I feel like it's a high-priced affair for mega-donors with mega-dollars, not me. I no longer join the walks or other AIDS events. The straights seemed to have those bases covered. I've moved on to issues like same-sex marriage.
But it's time I got over my issues and started to see where HIV awareness could still use my help. It was in that line of young men I saw my first glimmer of hope.
Last year CAP opened a Men's Wellness Center as a way to meet the changing health issues of gay men. Program Manager Michael Anderson-Nathe says its goal is to "expand beyond the traditional methods of disease prevention" (read: handing out condoms). That's why the MWC has as many movie nights as "End of Life" planning sessions. One of its most popular offerings is when, along with Outside In, CAP offers rapid HIV testing and STI (sexually transmitted infections) screening for guys. It's first come, first serve and free on Tuesdays. It's had up to 25 people in one night.
 "The [gay and bi men's] community told us they wanted this," says CAP Executive Director Jean Ann Van Krevelen. "We have more people interested in testing than we have time to test. We are looking for ways to expand our services. As of July, we are increasing our testing hours...and hopefully we'll be able to add another HIV-testing day per week in the future."
That's a future I think we all can live with. Don't you?

Men’s Wellness Center, 928 SW Stark St., 445-7699. 4-10 pm Wednesday-Saturday; Chiaroscuro: CAP’s Annual Art Auction, Oregon Convention Center, 223-9255, Saturday, May 12. $125 for general admission and $275 for patron event.