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Video: Frank talk on gay safe sex


Washington Blade - August 30, 2009

In 1982, Richard Berkowitz, Michael Callen and Dr. Joseph Sonnabend endured being called "the Jerry Falwells fo the gay community" for daring to suggest that promiscuous gay men needed to modify their sexual behavior in the face of a new epidemic that was decimating the community.

Berkowitz and Callen, who died of AIDS in 1993, wrote the earliest how-to guides for what would come to be known as safe sex, including "How to Have Sex in an Epidemic: One Approach," which laid out ways to reduce the risk associated with a variety of common gay male sex practices.

Few remembered Berkowitz' role until "Sex Positive," a documentary by Daryl Wein, began screening. The compelling film came to Atlanta last night for a benefit screening for Positive Impact, The Hope Clinic of the Emory Vaccine Research Center, and Action Cycling 200, a bike ride that raises money for HIV vaccine research.

Berkowitz was in attendance and received a standing ovation after the film. In remarks to the audience, he didn't mince words about the difficulties of getting out frank information about safe sex, and the way conservatives have "watered down" the message in the last decade to the point that it no longer celebrates sex and no longer has resonance for gay men.

Here is Berkowitz explaining what happened then, and what needs to happen now, to help curb the ongoing spread of HIV with gay men and other at-risk populations:


Copyright © 2009 -The Washington Blade, Publisher. All rights reserved to Washington Blade. Reproduction of this article (other than one copy for personal reference) must be cleared through the Washington Blade.

Information in this article was accurate in August 30, 2009. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.