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Today, a person with HIV is expected to live a normal life span.

First let me say that I think you give excellent advice, even if it is a bit pedestrian at times. I have a small problem: Last fall, my penis bent up and to the left at an almost 90-degree angle. I know from Google that this is not an unusual problem. And at 59, I am thankful that things are working as well as they are. But I fly gliders, and the relief system is a “Texas catheter” with a drain line to outside the glider. I believe that the bending on my penis may be the result of trauma caused by removing the catheter. In your many years of dealing with penis problems — I know you are not a urologist, but still — have you run across problems of a similar nature? Is there a way to remove adhesive from the penis that will not cause trauma? Gliding season will be starting soon, and I dread using the same system if it will cause more damage. My partner is an amazing woman — 70, by the way, and by far the best partner I have ever had (oh, my brethren, do not look only to youth!) — but I dread further damaging my member.

Hanging Under Nice Glider

First let me say thank you for the qualified compliment — you sure know how to flatter a girl — and I’ll try to keep my trademark excellent-if-pedestrian advice coming, HUNG. Also, you’re right, I’m not a urologist. But Dr. Keith Newman is. He’s also a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and my go-to guy for dick-related medical questions.

“It is not likely that HUNG’s drainage system caused the problem,” said Dr. Newman. “His condition sounds like Peyronie’s disease, a possibly autoimmune disease thought to be related to microtrauma, though some penile fractures may result in similar deformity.”

Men with Peyronie’s disease come down with, well, bent dicks. Sometimes the bend is slight and doesn’t interfere with reasonable penile functions. Sometimes the bend is severe enough to make erections painful and intercourse impossible.

“Most sufferers will return to within 10 to 20 percent of their baseline curvature within two years without intervention,” said Dr. Newman. “Thus, it is considered best to defer therapy until such time has elapsed. Ninety degrees is quite a big bend, however, and less likely to resolve spontaneously, but it’s still worth waiting.”

If your big bend doesn’t resolve spontaneously, HUNG, there are treatment options.

“The only real therapies are Xiaflex injections and surgical repair,” said Dr. Newman. “The former is not approved for patients less than two years from diagnosis or with less than 35 degrees of curvature. The latter is fraught with increased complication rates due to scarring so near the tip. Both can straighten the penis, but at a cost of length in many cases. As for drainage alternatives while gliding, I suggest the following product: freedom.mensliberty.com.”

I’m a 32-year-old English guy, and this morning I was diagnosed as HIV-positive. I’m in a bit of a state. I haven’t told anyone, and I needed to get it out. I’m in a long-term, mostly monogamous relationship, but my boyfriend is overseas for work at the moment, so I can’t really talk to him about it. So I’m talking to you.

Diagnosed And Dazed And Confused

I’m so sorry, DADAC. I hope you have a friend you can confide in, because you need a shoulder to cry on and I can’t provide that for you here.

What I can provide is some perspective. I’m just a little older than you — okay, I’m a whole lot older than you. I came out in the summer of 1981 — and two years later, healthy, young gay men started to sicken and die. During the 1980s and most of the 1990s, learning you were HIV-positive meant you had a year or two to live. Today, a person with HIV is expected to live a normal life span — so long as they have access to treatment and they’re taking their meds. And once you’re on meds, DADAC, your viral load will fall to undetectable levels and you won’t be able to pass HIV on to anyone else (undetectable = uninfectious). Arguably, your boyfriend and your other sex partners are safer now that you know than they were before you were diagnosed. Because it’s not HIV-positive men on meds who are infecting people, it’s men who aren’t on meds because they don’t know they’re HIV-positive.

I don’t mean to minimize your distress, DADAC. The news you just received is distressing and life changing. But it’s not as distressing as it was three decades ago, and it doesn’t mean your life is over. I remember holding a boyfriend on the day he was diagnosed as HIV-positive more than 25 years ago, both of us weeping uncontrollably. His diagnosis meant he was going to die soon. Yours doesn’t. You have a lot of time left, and if you get into treatment and take your meds, DADAC, you will live a long and healthy life, a life filled with love, connection, and intimacy. Spend some time feeling sorry for yourself, and then go live your life — live it for all the guys who didn’t get to celebrate their 33rd birthdays.

P.S. Don’t wait until your boyfriend returns to tell him. He needs to get tested right away.

On the Lovecast, Dr. Lori Brotto on asexuals: savagelovecast.com.

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