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The PPOWER Project promotes wellness by helping young Black men in Long Beach and other people in their lives (friends, partners, family) share stories of success, and work together to use their experiences to build a healthy community.

  • I used to live in South Central. I switched to a school in Downey ‘cause there were so many problems in my old neighborhood. When I graduated from high school, I moved to Long Beach and came to CSULB. I don’t like the clubs in Long Beach, they’re so freak’n boring. So I go online to meet people because there’s nowhere else. I have a profile on Adam4Adam, Grindr, Jack’d and Hornet.

    I’ve had unprotected sex a few times. I haven’t caught anything, but I’m going to be more careful hooking up online from now on. I will talk more to my sexual partners before we meet and ask them specific questions. If they omit info, I’m suspicious. If they don’t know their status, only bareback, or Party and Play, that’s a “NO” for me too.

    I also test for HIV four times a year. I went to the health center on campus a few times and then I figured out it’s easier to go to a clinic, because I have Obamacare. I guess I know regardless of what happens I can go there and get tested. The thought of being able to go there and find out whether I have it is kind of comforting.

  • The gay club scene is still kind of new to me. I have a few queer friends and we like to go out together. We go to Hamburger Mary’s on their 18+ nights because none of us are 21 yet. Normally, we go on Thursdays for Club Papi. Sometimes we hit a few bars because we know how to get into them. I like to dance and have fun so I mainly stick to Mary’s. To me drinking is something I need to be safe with. I make sure I’m in a safe environment with people I trust. Certain times, like when I’m looking to have sex, are not the types of situations where I need to be getting drunk.

    I want to get to know someone before I go home with them, especially if I’m drinking. I need to know what I’m doing when having sex, I won’t just meet someone at a club, get drunk and have sex with them. Say they try to have unprotected sex and I’m too drunk and not fully aware of what’s going on, it could turn into a dangerous situation.

    I feel that everything can be done in moderation. That’s why I’ll have one drink before I go out and dance to a few songs before thinking about having another. It’s all about being aware; it’s about consent.

  • I was dating this guy I met on BGC. We had sex and we used a condom. Then he told me he was HIV positive, and I freaked out. I was like “Oh my goodness, do I have it?” I was so ignorant; I probably made him feel bad. I was only 18, I didn’t know much about HIV and I was scared.
    A friend told me I could get tested for HIV at The Center, in Long Beach. I went and I was nervous of what the results might say. It seemed like it took forever for them to tell me my results, which made me even more nervous. They came back negative, but I still thought, “What if I came back two years later and something came back positive?” It was scary.
    Now I’ve been getting tested every three to six months for the last five years. After a while it seemed like it took less and less time for them to get the results. Now I’m not as nervous or scared when I get tested because it goes by quick. My friends make sure that I get tested regularly and I make sure they do too. I still use condoms, but I keep getting tested so I know my status and that if I test positive they can catch it early.

    Learn more about testing resources in your CommunityTesting Resources

  • I started meeting more gay guys lately. A lot of them have been honest with me, and have told me that they were HIV positive. I was surprised that they have been so honest. At first, I was a little freaked out.
    One of them I still hang out with. ’ll go to drink with him. He stays on Wilshire. We’ll have a couple of drinks at his house and then I’m like, “Well, I want to go out.” So, I take the bus out to the clubs in West Hollywood. On my way to the bars I turn on Jack’d and will find somebody to meet up with. Sometimes guys will come pick me up and we’ll just chill in the car. Then we might do oral or something.
    One friend always asks me “When are you going to get tested?” Obviously, he cares about me knowing my status. That has helped me make testing a part of my routine. Now I get it done every three to six months.
    I officially made it my routine when I had started being with more guys. I’m going to get tested, it’s free, and I can learn what’s going on with me. That makes me more confident that I am doing the right thing.
    I’m glad that I have a friend that cares about my health and safety as much as I do.

  • I have been going to 1350, the bathhouse in Wilmington, for a while. The first time I went, there were a lot of people. I was too scared to do anything, but that changed as I became more comfortable. I was going there on a regular basis, calling sex lines, and using apps to meet guys. One time I went to 1350 and I had sex with four people, in just that one day.

    My friend always tells me I should get tested every three months.  He also says to make sure I am not letting anyone stick it in me without a condom. I am trying to listen to him because he has my best interest at heart.

    So I’ve been thinking more and more about getting tested. I saw that 1350 has free HIV Testing in the evening. The next time I went, there was a little room by the entrance. I went there and they pricked my finger and gave me back my results. They read it fast. I didn’t really have to think about how long it was going to take for them to give me my results. The guy tested me for other STDs too.

    Sometimes I wonder, “Am I always going to use a condom?” Right now, I’m working on trying to make sure I am using a condom every time I have sex, to protect myself and my partners.

  • My parents are very traditional. So growing up I had to figure everything out on my own. When I started meeting guys, I lived with my family in Lynwood. Craigslist was the first thing I used because that was the only thing I really knew.

    I had my first sexual experience when I was almost 18 with a guy I found on Craigslist. I didn’t really know what people did. I was like “Top/Bottom—what the heck is that?” I wound up having unprotected sex a few times.

    I first thought that my butt was just itchy. I go to CSULB, so I decided to go to the Student Health Services; they told me it was anal warts. I felt depressed, angry and stupid. What if I also got HIV?

    I wish I could stop worrying. Recently I found out from my roommate that I can also get tested at the Long Beach LGBTQ Center. He told me that they have free HIV testing. I know I need to call; but I want to feel more comfortable and I have a few questions. Do I have to schedule an appointment? What can I expect when I go there? Is it going to be confidential? How are they going to look at me? I’m nervous, but I guess I will figure it out.

Know My Story

  • App King

    I used to live in South Central. I switched to a school in Downey ‘cause there were so many problems in my old neighborhood. When I graduated from high school, I moved to... continue

  • Cocktails in Control

    The gay club scene is still kind of new to me. I have a few queer friends and we like to go out together. We go to Hamburger Mary’s on their 18+ nights because none of us are... continue

  • Ignorance to Knowledge

    I was dating this guy I met on BGC. We had sex and we used a condom. Then he told me he was HIV positive, and I freaked out. I was like “Oh my goodness, do I have it?” I was... continue

  • Friendly Support

    I started meeting more gay guys lately. A lot of them have been honest with me, and have told me that they were HIV positive. I was surprised that they have been so honest.... continue

  • Keep It Up

    I have been going to 1350, the bathhouse in Wilmington, for a while. The first time I went, there were a lot of people. I was too scared to do anything, but that changed as I... continue

  • Figure It Out

    My parents are very traditional. So growing up I had to figure everything out on my own. When I started meeting guys, I lived with my family in Lynwood. Craigslist was the... continue

  • App King
  • Cocktails in Control
  • Ignorance to Knowledge
  • Friendly Support
  • Keep It Up
  • Figure It Out
If you'd like information about the PPOWER project or wish to contact a PPOWER team member, send us a message. We'll be back in touch with you as quickly as possible.

Free HIV Testing

Peer Promotion of Wellness and Enhanced Linkage to Resources
Center for Health Equity Research
California State University Long Beach
562.985.2175 | jaelen.owens-sa@csulb.edu
Center for Health Equity Research
1250 N. Bellflower Blvd., FO5 Rm. 120
Long Beach, CA 90840
562.985.2179 | CSULB-CHER@csulb.edu