I lived through the eighties and nineties, and watched in horror as formerly healthy people grew ill and quickly succumbed to a new threat no one had ever heard of before. And there was no cure. We didn't know the cause. Many died.
This new nightmare illness was identified as a virus, contracted through the exchange of bodily fluids.
All these years later, there is still no cure, though medicines can help prolong life and fight this terror. These medicines are costly, must be taken faithfully, and may not work for everyone. Even with the meds, health can be compromised.
Sure, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. But what if you're seventeen, in the closet, and have no informed adult to guide you? HIV may seem like ancient history, if you even know of it at all. Like so many others, I believed, "Everyone knows about HIV and safe sex!" Then I discovered how wrong I was, upon hearing heartbreaking tales of young people becoming infected without fully realizing the risks they took. In some cases, their partners were aware of their positive status and convinced them it was "Okay".
There is still a need for education and support of our young people. The Real Story Safe Sex Project features short stories by some of your favorite authors that are designed to entertain as well as enlighten. Some are serious, some are funny, but all impart the message of "protect yourself."
Rainbow Book Reviews' own Lena Gray interviewed The Real Story's mastermind, Brent Hartinger, on why he created this project. I'll provide the link here, and hope you'll read his profound words.
I handed out postcards for the project at my local PFLAG meeting, and will be handing out more this weekend at Outlantacon.
If you'd like to know more about this effort, download free stories, or if you'd like to contribute a work of your own, please visit Brent's site. It's not only stories we're after, but videos, articles and other forms of informative media. Especially eye-opening is Thoughts on Being HIV-Positive From a Pharmacist, by M/M romance author P.D. Singer.
So far we have story contributions by Brent Hartinger, Lambda Award winning author of Geography Club (now made into a movie!), Ally Blue, Zoe Lynne, Jeff Erno, Matthew Aaron Browning, Robin Reardon, Ty Nolan, RJ Seeley, and yours truly, Eden Winters. We have room for plenty more.