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Measuring a Man’s Worth via T-Cells and a Viral Load #HIV #AIDS

Measuring a Man’s Worth via T-Cells and a Viral Load #HIV #AIDS

(Editor’s Note:  Because I’m faced with sero-bigotry daily – even being HIV negative, I feel it’s time to dust this off and put it on the front page once again…

Sooner or later, people are going to realize that HIV+ men bring everything to the table a HIV negative person does.  There is no difference.

I find those that look down their nose at HIV positive men patently offensive; every bit as much I do any other form of bigotry.  Just so we’re clear: I’d much rather take one HIV positive man any day of the week than ten of the most gorgeous men on the planet who see fit to make jokes about HIV and serosegregate)

******

HIV positive need not apply

D/D free and be able to prove it

Don’t even think of emailing me if you’re HIV positive or you don’t list your status

Pretty strong statements, aren’t they?  Are any of those something that you would say to a person face-to-face?  No?  Me either.  Then why do gay men include those statements in their profiles via online dating sites?  Or harbor those thoughts in refusing to date an HIV positive man (or flat-out ditch him once they find out his status?)  What is it that causes gay men who are HIV negative to stigmatize those that aren’t?  I’m going to try my best to be objective on this article but I’m going to put this out there right up front:  this subject pisses me off.

I didn’t construct any of those statements I started this piece with; I took them verbatim off individual profiles on a popular dating site.  For fear of inciting a retaliatory effort, I will not be identifying the site or the profiles I got them from.  Those are the three statements that were the ones that stood out to me as saying “HIV positive men not welcome in my life.”

Here’s the $64 thousand dollar question:  Are you OK with this?  I’m not; I find it odious and discriminatory.

When did become OK to start thinking that somebody’s serostatus was an indicator of the quality of their character?  Are HIV negative men more devoted partners, more capable of displaying love, attention, and devotion to their partners?  Of course they aren’t.  Based on my notoriously bad track record of dating men prior to meeting Simon, I can assure you there are some guys out there who are HIV negative and real douche bags.

So why eliminate the possibility of meeting a truly wonderful man just because he might be HIV positive?  Is it a fear of becoming positive yourself?  Here’s a secret:  don’t have unsafe sex and there’s a better than likely chance you’re going to stay negative.  It was tough to get people to talk to me on this one, but I did manage to ask ten different guys what safe sex was.  Not a single one of them gave me a correct answer, and each of them were shocked when I pulled up proof on the web that was they perceived as safe sex was indeed labeled as moderate to high-risk activity.  For the demographic record, the guys were aged 18 to 44, different races, and had educational backgrounds ranging from a high school diploma to a doctorate in engineering.

This is another possibility, and I’m reaching on this one:  Is it that gay men don’t want to fall in love with somebody who’s HIV positive and watch them get sick and/or pass away?  Well, I’m going to pull the rug out from under that misconception too.  Studies are showing that those who are HIV positive and undergoing treatment are living longer than ever.  If your partner were HIV positive and maintaining his health there is no reason to expect anything other than a long, wonderful life together.  Granted, there are still things that can come up that could very well be a cause for concern but my point is this: the year on the calendar says 2010, not 1985.  While there is no cure for HIV, receiving that diagnosis is not an immediate sentence of death.

(Addendum:  I came across additional information after I initially posted.  From POZ magazine, a report that shows when CD4’s are maintained over 500, a normal life expectancy can result.  Read the full content of their article here.)

To look at this from another angle, I asked five men who I know are HIV positive what sort of stigma or alienation they have received once they disclosed their status.    Here are some of their answers:

  • “Once a guy finds out, I don’t hear from him again.”
  • “They act funny: I get a cheek kiss as opposed to on the lips before I told them.  That’s usually the beginning of the end.”
  • “I get treated like a leper.”

Between you and me, these answers are infuriating, and they also speak to two causes that drive this sort of response: a lack of knowledge on what safe sex really is, and not having the courage to speak up and say “Hey, I’m not entirely clear on this…”  So, rather than admit ignorance, we either reject people solely because they’re HIV positive or flat out refuse to consider them for a relationship?  And yet, when gays are discriminated against as a group, we march down the street, write letters to our congressmen, or take to Facebook to launch a group devoted to bring down the bigot who has wronged us?  No need for a double standard here, guys.  One will do just fine.

We need to be seriously ashamed that this is happening, and even more so that we’re doing it to members of our own communities.  If we insist on a better life for the sexual minority, yet stigmatize some of our very own, who in their right mind would take our demands seriously?

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