The stigma against guys who are HIV-positive is real and widespread, despite a wealth of available knowledge that debunks myths about the virus, how it is transmitted, and how it can be effectively managed to keep sexual partners of HIV-positive people virtually risk-free.
The anonymity of apps like Grindr make it easier for people without such knowledge to say the most disturbing things to potential partners who disclose their HIV-positive status.
Some of those real messages, which are apparently all too common for people who disclose their HIV-positive status, are highlighted by the real guys who received them in a new campaign created by the London-based HIV nonprofit Gay Men Fight AIDS (GMFA).
“You’re a walking disease mate,” one of them reads. Others include such atrocities as “Sluts like you deserve it,” “Teaches you to stop being a slut,” and “I wouldn’t want anything to do with an ugly pile of HIV like you.”
The short film below, released ahead of World AIDS Day December 1, serves to create awareness for people with the privilege of not having to receive messages like this.
“For guys who’ve just been diagnosed who can’t speak to their friends or family… if that’s the response you’re being met with it’s potentially really damaging,” Greg, 35, says at the end.
“The medical treatment for HIV has had a dramatic impact on the health and life expectancy of those of us who are living with HIV. Unfortunately, the progress we’ve made in tackling the stigma associated with an HIV positive diagnosis has not been as fast,” GMFA CEO Matthew Hodson said in a blog post announcing the video. “The all too visible stigmatization of people living with HIV discourages people from testing, or talking honestly about HIV, their risk and their testing history. In a very real sense, stigma helps to perpetuate HIV.”
Check it out below: