Popular Opinion Leader

Recently I had the very good fortune to be involved in a seminar on HIV-Aids awareness. The program is called Public Opinion Leader. (POL) The program is sponsered by the Gay & Bi Men's Health Program of Beverly, Massachusetts

POL's goal is to change the social norms of society not just individuals surrounding safe sex practices, a huge task indeed! The concept is that when popular people adopt cetain fashions, trends and behaviors the rest of the community will follow. This theoretically should hold true for safe sex practices as well.

We were taught about HIV/Aids transmission. Then we learned about safer sex practice, and how to promote it in a non-judgmental fashion. We developed ways to communicate our practices in a casual, natural, and more caring manner.

I was able to communicate to many different people about the POL seminar through informal chats with my family, fellow hobbyists, friends, and potential co-workers. I used "I" statements in how I am trying to remain STD free when I practice safe sex.

We met for four sessions. Each session an exquisite meal was prepared by the hosts. We were fed well. The presenters where expertly informed on their content and very well prepared for each session. We were given a t-shirt that has the expression "I KNOW" printed on the front. Wearing this is a great way break the ice in starting a conversation on my safe sex practices.

I would encourage anyone to, if you have the time, to attend a program like this and continue to spread the word about HIV/Aids prevention. Become a POL.

Thanks to all the leaders and participants for making this a wonderfully positive experience for me. I will continue to spread the word!

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