Smashing the Stigma

by Margaret Pilarski

“Even after all these years I still become emotional when I think about it,” says Brad. 

“No one should suffer the way that people who were HIV positive back in the early ‘90s had to suffer. Of course, in those early days nobody really knew what it was…” says Brad Childs, as he sits behind his desk as executive director of Lowcountry AIDS Services. 

In the early 1990s, Greg, Brad’s brother, was diagnosed with the disease. And although Greg’s care was facilitated by insurance coverage and a capable and caring family, the unfortunate reality that Greg’s experience wasn’t typical isn’t lost on Brad. 

“Stigma is such a big part of it,” says Brad, “We had one individual who told his parents that he was positive and they threw him out. He got caught stealing food and a police officer caught him and didn’t take him to jail, but got him connected with us. We were able to get him into stable housing and get him the support that he needed,” says Brad. 

That’s a prime example of the ways in which LAS operates today. For more than 20 years, LAS has provided testing, assistance and support to men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS across Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties. 

For 17 of those years, Brad has been a driver of its success. “Soon after Greg passed, I tried to volunteer and I just couldn’t. It was too difficult to do.” But through his medical compliance work with the Medical University of South Carolina, Brad met a physician who was the board chair of LAS. One day he mentioned to Brad that the agency was hiring for a finance and grant position. After four years in that role, Brad was asked to step in as interim executive director and eventually took on the job permanently. 

What began as a small office downtown has now grown to have over 20 staff members dedicated to providing care coordination, acting as peer advocates, providing testing and counseling, as well as providing assistance with nutrition, housing and finances – important elements that often prevent patients from reliable access to care. 

“Our ultimate goal is to serve the patient. It’s not an entitlement program. There are action plans,” says Brad. “But the stigma—that’s the biggest challenge. Letting people know that this can happen to anybody. This isn’t a gay man’s disease, this isn’t a poor man’s disease—anyone can become infected.”

In fact, the push for awareness reaches into a variety of communities with different risk factors. Because one of the at-risk populations that LAS works to serve is African American men who have sex with men, Brad says outreach to those communities is crucial. “We do have some AME churches that are very supportive of the agency, and we have other churches where we’ve tried to set up HIV ministries to help educate youth—of course South Carolina being an abstinence-only state just makes it so difficult—but we need to help educate the African American community and let them know of resources and that they’re not alone.”




Whether someone’s awareness is raised through

 church, a barbershop, gay clubs, social media, health fairs or the radio, individuals can come to LAS and get results within 20 minutes. And if a patient receives a positive result, it’s all hands on deck for the LAS team. 

“If they’re positive they’re put with our linkage to care coordinator,” explains Brad, “She gets them their first appointments, connecting them with a peer who can sit in on the process if the individual wants them to, and then a case manager is assigned. We kind of hold their hand through that beginning process.”

Any number of factors can determine where a patient’s next challenge might lie. If they have health insurance coverage, LAS can help with referrals, copays or deductibles. If the patient doesn’t have coverage, they’re enrolled through the Affordable Care Act to access covered medical care.

Most of all, Brad says Charleston’s biggest barrier is affordable housing. “We find that if people don’t have stable housing, they don’t have access to medical care.” With a stack of medical bills, and the need for ongoing care, it’s essential that a patient’s housing be as stable as possible. “Without that, nothing fall into place,” says Brad. 

For those in the community who want to support the work of LAS, there are two annual fundraisers: a beer garden in May at Patriots Point, and a community classic – Gay BINGO, in August. Both tend to sell out quickly. Year-round, LAS also teams up with collaborators to host special events, like their work with Towne Centre’s Belk men’s store and King Street’s eponymous M. Dumas & Sons to raise thousands of dollars for LAS in shopping-themed events. 

The team is always looking for volunteers and donations in any amount. “We once had a little girl who could barely see over our counter come to the office—but she brought a jar of change in for us,” says Brad with a smile on his face. 

And the community’s support means more success stories for LAS and their growing team. Although every day is difficult for them, the work has its own rewards. “It never gets easy. To have the empathy, for my staff to have to tell someone that they’re positive, that’s heartbreaking for them. But what I emphasize to them is that they’re making a difference. We are literally changing lives.




by Rachel Toalson

In my house, my husband is a bit neglected, come summertime.

Father’s Day gets stuck in this complicated time of “school’s out” and “I’m trying to stay sane,” and sometimes it gets buried under all the madness.

Dads don’t get all the amazing gifts kids create in their classes at the end of the school year—like the flower pot the 7-year-old made me with a piece of his colored art and a packet of flowers I could plant in it to remember how much he loves me and what I mean to him. They don’t get the handmade cards that say things like my favorite thing to do is wash the dishes (because they see me do that most). They don’t get the homemade ornament kids made as part of their final grade.

The only school they have in June is the School of Mom’s Tired. In spite of this underachievement, and, sometimes, lack of gift-giving, dads mean quite a lot in a kid’s life. Here are some ways dads mean the world to their children:

1. A dad speaks identity over his kids. He reminds them who they are.

Every morning, when I drop my boys off at the doors of their classrooms, I repeat the same mantra: “Remember who you are—strong, kind, courageous, and mostly Son.” I remind them who they are. I ask them to remember it throughout the day so that they can make bring honor to the Toalson name, either with the work they do in school or the way they treat people (preferably both). 

But it’s only words, coming from a mom. Boys need to see a dad living out his own identity. And my husband does this expertly. He is supremely confident in who he is and accepts his boys for who they are. There is nothing that speaks identity to a child like this affirmation can. They have the privilege of observing the kind of man he is, and they want to be that kind of man. They see what he’s done in the world, and they want to do it, too. They call him a hero, and they want to be a hero in their own children’s lives someday. They find their identity in the roots of who he is.

2. A dad reminds kids of their worth.

I know this seems pretty closely related to the last point, but there’s a simple nuance that makes it different. A kid with an involved dad is reminded of his worth.

I speak as a fatherless kid. When a dad gives his kids presence and plays with them and pays attention to the worries of their hearts and their joys and interests and concerns and hopes and dreams and disappointments, what he is saying in their lives is “You are important. You are worthy. You are mine.”

Breaking the cycle of absent dads and all the lies that absence can communicate about worthiness is of highest priority in our house. Our fathers didn’t have fathers, either. My kids have a father. Every day, they get a glimpse of what it’s like to tell a kid, through presence and play and the simplicity of paying attention, that they are important.

3. Dads are a stabilizing presence that can impart wisdom.

Of course we pick up wisdom from our mothers, but it is a different sort of wisdom. It is a gentle wisdom that is nurturing and kind and loving. The wisdom we obtain from our fathers is practical and important in a different way. Maybe it’s because I have boys, but I often think about how my boys will go through The Change soon, and they will have a father who can speak definitively about what that’s like. I don’t know what it’s like to be a boy, only a moody teenage girl. He can provide them wisdom in ways I can’t.

Not only that, but dads tend to see the world differently than moms. The wisdom from both a mom and a dad gives kids a clearer picture of the world as a whole. Dads help girls understand the world of boys. Dads help boys understand the world, period.

4. Dads give kids the freedom to be who they are.

When my is out in the store and one of my kids is losing his mind, shoppers pat him on the back and say he’s a brave man for taking them out in the first place. If I’m out in the store and one of my kids is losing his mind, shoppers look at me like I’m an incompetent mother. While there are systemic problems with this, there is also a silver lining—dads don’t have as much societal pressure on them to raise the perfect kids. When kids misbehave, society doesn’t look to them—they look to moms. That means dads have a bit more freedom to let kids be who they are.

This is significant. We live in a world where kids who are conveniently well behaved are lauded for their goodness. Dads don’t care about that. They care about raising kids who know who they are. 

The world can’t survive with good dads. So thank you, dads, for what you do.


Do You Know the Difference?

> by Debbie Martinez <

Men are notorious for wanting to read about sex but not relationships. So – spoiler alert, despite the title of this article, read on only if you want to be enlightened on the path to a fulfilling relationship (in every way) * wink, wink *

Dating and relationships are a hot topic at happy hours and what I hear most of the time is the amount of work involved with women and relationships. Men want swinging from the chandelier sex and women want intimacy. Well here is some inside information, guys, if you create intimacy you will get the sweaty, in-every-room-sex you crave. 

I know you’re thinking, “Intimacy is work,” but it’s not bad work and quite frankly, you will be surprised at the pay off for both of you. 

So how does a strapping, virile man acquire intimacy? It is a combination of vulnerability, time and honesty. It is hard enough being honest with yourself, let alone a woman, but there is a sense of freedom that comes when you are. Exposing one’s skeletons and being transparent leaves you totally exposed and vulnerable. 

There’s that “V” word, again, and I don’t mean a woman’s body part. Vulnerability is not a bad word; a scary word, maybe, but not a bad one. The cold hard fact is in order to have a healthy, strong, thriving relationship both parties have to allow themselves to feel and embrace vulnerability. 

More times than I can count I have heard men and women say his or her partner “never let me in.” How sad to be sharing a bed with someone you don’t really know. Having open and honest dialogue about your past and any skeletons hanging around is an act of courage. View it as exhibiting your strength, not as exposing your weaknesses. Bringing a difficult topic into the light takes away its power. As long as you allow it to lurk in the shadows, it has the power to control you and, consequently, your relationships. That being said, this is a swinging door, so if you expect your partner to accept you, you have to accept your partner. If you realize you can’t, then walk. 

Being an open book is not a bad thing. Be thankful when someone wants to open and read it. I’m not saying you should unload your entire history on the first date. One must have discernment concerning with whom and at what time is best. But at some point the book has to come off the shelf. 

“Timing is everything,” “All in good time,” and “When the time is right,” are popular sayings for a reason. They’re true. 

Guys, you want toe curling sex? Then trust me on this. Invest some time, slow things down. Don’t let sex be the main objective of your third date. When you do, you are setting yourself up to lose interest in what could be a fabulous woman because you are rushing things along. By speeding up the “get to know each other” phase, you have successfully eliminated the mystery and pleasure of getting to know her and BAM – you’ve lost interest. 

Here is a fact. As much as you think you know a person because you have spent hours texting (which, by the way, inspires my follow-up piece about the intimacy in hearing someone’s voice) there is no way you can really, really know someone after one date. All you will know is whether or not you want a second date. 

I was talking with a guy friend of mine about this article and he said something that I think brings the concept of intimacy versus sex to light. He said, “In baseball, you have to round all the bases to get to home plate. If you don’t touch first base, you are automatically called out and none of the other bases matter. It seems as though in relationships people want to get to home plate without rounding all the bases. Kissing is first base and you should be called out if you don’t touch this base on a daily basis…and with passion.”

And so you have it, straight from the mouth of one of your own. My 50-something-year-old friend has unlocked the key to great sex. He confirmed what I have long known and what men need to know. Great, swinging from the chandelier sex doesn’t start from the waist down but from the waist up. Opening your heart, being vulnerable and allowing your partner to feel comfortable doing the same will allow you to really get to know the person you’re with creating intimacy which will unequivocally lead to rockin’ sex. And, oh yes, kiss and kiss some more.




> by Dana Blalock, DDS <

It’s an unspoken problem plaguing many couples. The unmistakable sounds that pierce the sound slumber of the sleeping partner—leaving the partner to seek relief in another room. In essence this behavior causes ‘sleep divorce’, where the couple settles for sleeping apart rather than seeking treatment which will lead them both to a better night’s sleep.  

Snoring is extremely common, and in some cases, relatively harmless. It is estimated that over 18 million people in the United States are affected by snoring. Loud and habitual snoring can disrupt your sleep and may be a sign of a much more serious sleep disorder—obstructive sleep apnea.  Snoring is a sound that occurs in the upper airway as you breathe in air. The unmistakable sound is a sign that your airway is partially blocked, usually by soft tissue in your throat. The volume of snoring depends on the person. You may snore so loudly you wake yourself up. Snoring may also cause you to have a dry mouth or to wake up with a sore throat. 

Snoring Facts

• Snoring can affect almost anyone

• Habitual snoring has been found in an estimated 24% of adult women and 40% of adult men

• Alcohol, drugs, muscle relaxers and tobacco products contribute to snoring

• Obese or overweight people tend to snore because there is more fat tissue in the back of their throats, although thin people can also be affected by snoring

• An estimated 10 – 12% of children snore

• Snoring appears to run in families


Self-Help Cures to Stop Storing

• Lose weight. Losing even a little bit of weight can reduce fatty tissue in the back of the throat and decrease or even stop snoring.

• Exercise can also help to stop snoring.  Working out to tone your arms, legs, and abs, for example, also leads to toning the muscles in your throat, which in turn can lead to less snoring.  Throat exercises are also available to increase muscle tone.

• Quit smoking. If you smoke, the chances of snoring are high. Smoking causes airways to be blocked by irritating the membranes in the nose and throat.

• Establish regular sleep patterns. Create a bedtime ritual with your partner and stick to it. Hitting the sack in a routine way together can help you sleep better and often minimize snoring.


Snoring Red Flags

• You snore loudly and heavily and are tired during the day.

• Your bed mate complains of an inability to sleep peacefully.

• You stop breathing, gasp, or choke during sleep.

• You fall asleep at inappropriate times, such as while sitting quietly at your desk or while having a conversation, or relaxing at the end of the workday.


Treatments For Snoring

• Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). To keep your airways open during sleep, a machine must be used every night.  Itblows pressurized air through a mask that you wear over your nose or face. Consider gearing up for bed every night.

• Surgery to reduce the soft tissue.

• Alternative medicines and or drugs.

• Dental Appliances. Several appliance are available that can help prevent snoring. These appliances are worn at night and will open up the airway so that you may no longer need to strap a CPAP machine to your face. They also are much easier to travel with, and are less cumbersome.

Benefits of the Appliances For Snoring

• Effective for both adults and children

• Has the ability to corrects the root causes of sleep apnea, not just symptoms

• Painless and comfortable

• Has the ability to improve facial development, and open the upper airway

• Proven to reduce snoring





> by Susan Wilson, MD <

Modern American society is fast paced and getting faster. Tension is everywhere — there’s job stress, financial stress, family stress, relationship stress. The list goes on. To add insult to it all, we now know stress can wreak havoc on male sexual function. 

Normal sexual function involves a virtual symphony of interactions among the vascular, hormonal, psychological and neurological systems of the body. Stress, unfortunately, has a negative effect on all of the players in that symphony. Get super stressed out for long periods of time and you can end up with erectile dysfunction (ED), diminished libido (sex drive) and abnormal ejaculation.

What to do? That’s where things can get confusing. Currently, the market is jammed with proprietary herbal remedies and concoctions that claim to boost performance. Most of these are of no benefit whatsoever. There are also expensive minor surgical procedures that are advertised as a quick fix. While there are cases that require more complex measures, it makes sense to try the simple solutions first.

And stress is key. Reducing stress results in better health from head to toe. By reducing stress in your life, you also go a long way toward warding off hypertension, heart disease, depression and anxiety, and you sleep better. But let’s get back to better sexual function. Reducing stress can improve libido and in some cases erectile function. 

Techniques to bring down the stress in your life include exercise, meditation, yoga, and biofeedback training. Also consider reducing your workload and/or your time spent thinking about your workload. Sleep more, and play more. What do you like to do? Golf, fish, hike? Then do it. Schedule it and do it. Or take up a new hobby, 

and make sure you clear time for it. And unplug so you can 

be truly present. 

If you’re doing all of that like a boss and still having trouble with sexual function, consider seeing a specialist in hormonal optimization and anti-aging medicine. A well-trained, experienced anti-aging specialist can help guide you along the path toward better sex. 

But be selective. If, while shopping around, you encounter a website that makes it difficult or even impossible to find the doctor’s biographical information, then move on and look elsewhere. Also, know that if you find a site that focuses on the most expensive treatment options, you will likely be offered these treatment options first. 

Instead, you want your new doctor to start slowly with you, working with you to make sure you’re reducing stress and addressing hormone deficiencies.  He or she will also evaluate the effect of other health problems and medications on your performance. 

Hormonal replenishment to boost testosterone levels and medications that address ED will likely be among the first options your new doctor will discuss with you. Don’t be afraid to give them a try. But also know that specialized compounded forms are frequently superior and almost always less expensive than commercial offerings.

Good luck. Enjoy your stress-reduction efforts and the fruits they bring, both sexual and otherwise, and do know that if you need extra help beyond that, qualified practitioners who understand male sexual function are out there and available to help. 




> by Michael Twilley <

When I asked my wife if I could write an article on how the O shot and testosterone changed our sex life she threatened to throw me out of the house. I’m already on thin ice for letting the Low Country know about my Journey to Super Dick

Men are always telling me they would love to get a new and improved super dick but they can’t justify it because their wives don’t really care about sex anymore. It is hard to warrant the cost of a medical procedure when you are not going to get an opportunity to use it. This month’s column is dedicated to my journey to the perfect female orgasm. 

Nothing sucks more than a partner that has to fake it or just doesn’t want to have to sex in the first place. We’ve all been through the humiliation of a fake orgasm or suffered through 30 second sessions where your partner just wants you to finish so she can get back to Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Men want sex all the time because we are pretty much guaranteed to have an orgasm. If women could count on having an orgasm every time they had sex, they might just turn into the sex starved junkies we’ve always wanted.  If modern medicine can create a super dick then there must be a clinical way to get our women to moan, scream and crave more sex. 

Dr. Charles Runnels showed me the first path to the perfect orgasm with the O Shot. The O shot works by injecting Platelet Rich Plasma into the clitoris and the labia wall. The procedure is painless and takes about 30 minutes. The PRP stimulates the clitoris by attracting adult stem cells to the area and enhancing the nerve endings that stimulate the vagina to increase lubrication.  I have heard stories of women that used to dread sex calling their husbands in the middle of the day for a little afternoon delight. Women that have this done are having some of the deepest orgasms imaginable. I’m not talking about the fake bullshit kind where she screams your name a few times, I’m talking about the really deep ones where her legs shake and you can feel it pulsate up and down her body. Once your partner has the O shot you will never have to ask if she came again.  

While the O Shot is our go to treatment to enhance orgasm function I understand that the idea of a needle going into the clitoris might be a little too much for your partner. If your wife or partner has all but lost the desire to have sex and cant seem to ever have an orgasm, odds are that she might be low in Testosterone.  Testosterone will most likely make your wife or partner want to have sex more and will almost certainly improve her orgasms. Testosterone is typically applied on the clitoris for best results. Testosterone replacement is not for everyone and she should see a qualified specialist to get her levels tested. 

If Testosterone deficiency isn’t the culprit you might want to look into Scream Cream.  Scream Cream is a topical cream designed to improve a woman’s sexual sensitivity. It contains vasodilators that increase the amount of blood going to the clitoris. Think of it as a female Viagra that is applied on the clit before sex.  It can also be combined with testosterone. Scream Cream works similarly to the way that Viagra and Cialis work for men. It brings more blood to the clitoris therefore shortening the time to achieve orgasm. 

The next time your partner tells you she isn’t in the mood or has never been able to orgasm don’t worry about your technique, your size and please don’t take it personally.  Odds are it doesn’t have anything to do with you.  Ask her if she would be open to any of these medical solutions that would all but guarantee her the best orgasms of her life.  You will always be remembered as the guy that showed her the path to the perfect orgasm.


Terry Fox




When you were a kid you dreamed about?  Becoming an artist. 

Favorite Sports Team?  My hometown high school Hudson (NC) Hornets.

Early Riser or night owl?  HA!!  No question: Night owl!

Favorite Date Night Restaurant?  Lana Restaurant and Bar, recently shuttered and evermore mourned.

Instrument you wished you played?  I have never understood the science of music, but I am fascinated by the skills required for mastery of the piano. 

Most Surprising title on your iPod?  Do not own one. 

Proudest accomplishments?  Graduating from UNC as a proud Tar Heel and working with an incredible all-volunteer team to produce our soon-to-be 26 local Pecha Kuchas.   

Boots or Flipflops?  Both, depending on the weather.

Craft Brew or Ultra?  Miller Lite, silly!!

Black or Cream/Sugar?  Neither!  Nowhere, no time! 

Steak or Kale?  Neither!  Nowhere, no time.

Gym or jog?  Gym at my pals’ recently opened Koko FitClub.

Last Book you couldn’t put down?  A three-way tie: Moonglow by Michael Chabon, Swing Time by Zadie Smith, and The Pigeon Tunnel, John Le Carre’s memoir of his life as a spy.   

 Where do you want to visit?  Morocco.

Are you afraid of anything?  Aging—too late!!

Go-to Cocktail?  Hendrick’s and tonics with lots of cukes in season and Bloodys every Sunday.

What is your spirit animal?  The fox of course, although I am pretty much a prototypical Leo.

Favorite TV Show?  The Good Wife or Howdy Doody.

Who’s your best friend?  Of the human variety, blessedly too many to enumerate.  Of the critter type, my two 15-year-olds, canine and feline. 

One thing you can’t live without?  See directly above. 

Favorite Curse Word?  FUCK, of course!!  It can be any part of speech as needed!

Sail or Motor? Sail as it represents the ultimate in decadent luxuriousness.

Favorite present-day pastime?  Supporting the local creative community.