By: Robert Brandon Sandor
October 24, 2015
This all started back in the mid 1990's (New York City, NY August 1996) as a selfish idea for me to find an HIV+ boyfriend. BUT, I also understood that the HIV-negative community needed support as well.
The Internet is a global communication tool and getting the most from an online network today can get pretty stressful and frustrating, but add in your HIV-negative status and the whole world seems to be crashing in on you. Until now. This is the turning point on a global scale.
$PECIAL NOTE to HIV Researcher$ worldwide: Take notes and begin writing you future HIV related Grant Funding Proposals. Pick a topic listed here and conduct a detailed HIV related research study about it, this page alone will offer you and your research team decades of Grant Writing opportunitie$! If you don't, your competitor$ will!
Before you begin joining an HIV-negative Online Network or creating one of your own for others to join, you should first get an understanding of HOW DID WE GET HERE? How did the HIV+ and HIV-negative Status Disclosure concept go viral* and WHY is main stream America interested (and VERY EXCITED*) to fund the HIV+ Online Networks ? Be aware that as you understand all this, you should try to understand that HIV Stigma is no longer the issue it once was. In fact, HIV+ and HIV-negative Online Networks (HIV Status Disclosure) are now profitable!
(* Same author, same topic just a decade apart.)
Therefore, you should consider these links and information as a foundation of...
By taking time to understand this information, you will be better educated and informed. Your new found awareness will offer you and your friends more CONFIDENCE and a better sense of UNITY; as you move forward in joining or creating an HIV-negative Online Network. Without further hesitation, here are...
THE 10 TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL HIV-negative ONLINE NETWORK:
Remember, the CDC stated that "70% of HIV+ gay men in America do NOT have HIV in check", therefore, membership in / ownership of an HIV-negative Online Network can be significant to your professional development (your job / future employment) , your health (mentally and physically), your sex life and offers you continuous learning across the board. Actively participating in said networks (groups or associations) helps advance all these in the comfort and safety of your home or office. Offering you confidence and peace of mind. Here are a few EXAMPLES
Tip 1) LEARNING IS EVERYWHERE. Learning opportunities include sharing ideas and offering comments, webcasts, meetings (online, in public or private, social or sexual), workshops, conferences and best practices. Learning from other members / owners offers another great opportunity; LISTENING / UNDERSTANDING closely to members' varied perspectives, experiences, successes, failures and ideas.
Tip 2) TEACH OTHERS. As an HIV-negative gay / bi-sexual man (or young man) what do you do / know well? Do you succeed with social media, business, finance, sports, health, sexual responsibility or other topic for discussion? By joining or creating an HIV-negative Online Network members and owners will benefit by learning new ideas and solutions from you and others.
Tip 3) SHARE EXPERIENCES. Even if you would rather not teach / share online, or you dislike public speaking, you can still share your experiences with others one-on-one or in smaller groups in public or private; online or face to face. HIV-negative Online Networks have always fostered a spirit of sharing, unity and awareness for decades that HIV researchers are just now trying to understand.
Tip 4) NETWORK REGULARLY. Just as important as getting tested for HIV regularly (HIV+ and HIV-negative), membership / ownership offers opportunities to build and nurture social and sexual relationships. Besides meeting people like yourself, you can get to know people from all facets of the LGBTQ Community such as: media, speakers, authors, funding partners both in the public and private sectors. This type of networking is very helpful when you need to hire someone for an event or make a career change.
Tip 5) DEVELOP A TRUSTED GROUP OF PEERS. This goes beyond basic networking. Developing social or sexual relationships with people you can trust and feel comfortable with helps when you are facing a social or sexual challenge (Should I have unsafe sex with an HIV+ person? Should I be involved with BD or SM if I feel uncomfortable? Who will help me when I pass out from too much PnP this weekend?) . This also helps you when you wish to share new ideas or thoughts about the HIV related current events of today. Tip 6) GET INVOLVED. 20 years ago (remember, I started all this back in New York City in 1996 via the AOL Chat Rooms and Hotmail) HIV+ and HIV-negative Online Networks were forced underground because of the stigma we received from the HIV agencies, organizations, "experts" and "professionals". (see pic on left) Their take on HIV was that all HIV+ gay men were NOT allowed to have sex with anyone, and IF we did have sex that we must all have safe sex - period. Sadly, today this stigma and discrimination is still with us. If you recall the article above, it states "There are more networks out there than we thought," says Strub. "They are typically operating in relative isolation, without a connection to a national infrastructure or funding. So that's what we're now looking to do -- give them a supportive context and the ability to communicate and to aggregate our voices."
The survey team received responses from 239 networks -- though only 71 met the criteria for inclusion in the analysis. The questions gauged everything from the networks' size, age and membership demographics to what kind of support they most needed. In addition, the team conducted in-depth interviews with leaders from eleven networks."
Therefore, according to the published article, there continues to be widespread stigma and discrimination against innovative HIV+ AND gay men from the very HIV agencies, organizations, "experts" and "professionals" that we are required to trust. IF this is not true, then 100% of the "239 networks" would be supported by Sean Strub, his Sero Project team and all those involved with the SERO Network Empowerment Project. WHERE ARE THE HIV-negative ONLINE NETWORKS, AND WHY ARE THEY IGNORED IN THIS PROJECT?
However, Sean Strub and countless others failed to understand was our Freedom of Choice and our desire to STOP HIV BY HAVING SEX. They had NO CLUE to another powerful tool the HIV+ and HIV-negative communities had...TIME.
As the months turned into years and the years turned into decades, HIV+ Online Networks created an innovative and powerful side effect of the American - and GLOBAL - gay / bisexual communities; SOCIAL AND SEXUAL CULTURAL BEHAVIORAL CHANGE. We achieved this monumental success just by getting involved when others did not. Therefore, you will understand and accept the opportunities your HIV-negative Online Networks will offer through: Volunteering, Participating in HIV-negative social and sexual events, your work on committees or making it to The Board Rooms. Remember, most of these networks are volunteer based - you are NOT required to join or create one - so your participation IS essential.
Tip 7) ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO JOIN. The overall success of any HIV-negative Online Network depends on a growing membership. Help your network grow by encouraging others to join, participate and support it. It is everyone's responsibility to help the network thrive and grow.
Tip 8) MENTOR MEMBERS. Are you an influential HIV related community leader? Are you a former drug addict? Are you a CEO, author, speaker, activist or professional business man? Many HIV-negative gay / bisexual men in the network are new to the group, and they need you to help them become successful in their personal or professional lives. Find people you admire and learn from them. You can return the favor later in your career or personal life.
Tip 9) EMBRACE CHANGE. Do not be afraid to step up and help your group make positive changes if the agenda starts to drift from the core. Offer suggestions or web links to new ideas. Conversely, don't be OPPOSED to change suggested by others just because it's different than the way you did things in the past. Healthy and successful HIV-negative Online Networks (social and sexual) EVOLVE over time, and 20 years of history proves this!
Tip 10) ENJOY EVENTS. Since 1996, HIV+ Online Networks have always enjoyed their achievements by planning and participating in social or sexual HIV+ events throughout the year. Therefore, the SAME hold true for HIV-negative Online Networks! Go ahead and ENJOY! It's good for your state of mind. There is plenty of work to do in our daily grind we call LIFE, so don't feel guilty when it's your time to KICK BACK and HAVE FUN!
Food for thought... You can not stop HIV dead in it's tracks if you do not Serosort (have unsafe sex with your own HIV status) or Safe Sex Serosort (have safe sex with your own HIV status). You can not Serosort or Safe Sex Serosort if you do not get tested for HIV. You can not Serosort or Safe Sex Serosort if you do not disclose your HIV status to others. Conclusion: HIV+ Online Networks have achieved these first two steps, the next step is YOU and your desire to meet others of the same HIV status for social or sexual encounters - with or without condoms.
A question to ponder...
Allow me to ask you a simple question for future discussion, research or articles.. If the HIV+ Online Networks can become this successful and so easily, why would you be so naive to think the HIV-negative community did not do the same?
Questions, comments or concerns about the information offered here? Please use this 'Guest Book" to express your thoughts. Feel free to return often to read comments from others.
About me (Robert Brandon Sandor)
I am the most hated HIV+ gay man in America today, just because I did something that was not allowed to happen. I changed the gay and bisexual global culture by empowering us to make informed choices by understanding our Freedom of Choice. Second Generation born and raised in Greenwich, CT. US Air Force vet with a Humanitarian Service medal and HIV+ since 1983. America's Leading HIV Prevention Innovator just by reinventing HIV Prevention and Awareness by pioneering the first HIV+ only sex party - Brandon's POZ Party - NYC (and taking the concept viral via the internet in 1996) and pioneering the first HIV+ NON CLINICAL HIV+ social events - Brandon's POZ Social. However, I also pioneered the SAME online social and sexual opportunities for the global HIV-negative community with Boy Toys - NY - the first HIV-negative safe sex (Safe Sex Serosorting) sex party. (see HISTORY) . I am also the author of America's first booklet uniting the HIV+ and HIV-negative social and sexual cultures "Sex Venue Etiquette and Resource Guide" for America's Gay and Bi Sexual Young Men - because "Someday" BECAME "Today". And this is why I am the most hated HIV+ gay man in America today, just because I did something that was not allowed to happen.
Contact me at: email@example.com for your future articles, research ideas or public speaking events. Type " HIV-negative 10 Tips Request" in the subject line.