Sunday, 11 March 2012

HIV and Online Identities

The ever-lovely @leomack87 flagged up this post on the excellent UKPositiveLad blog.  UKPositiveLad or Sam, set up a blog when he was diagnosed as HIV+ in 2011.  He uses the blog to share his activism and document his own journey with HIV.  His latest post post contains a story that is perhaps unsurprising but that does not reduce the importance of examining it.  Within the post he writes:

'I started wondering last weekend (25th Feb 2012) what kind of responses someone would get if their profile said that they were HIV+. So I created myself a second profile on Grindr, almost identical to mine in (but different enough to look like a different person), still looking for “Friends, fun and dates” – but this time I mentioned my HIV status in the profile text.

'Over the course of the week (25 Feb – 03 Mar) my existing profile received messages from 74 users. On the other hand my (almost identical) profile that mentions my HIV status had 11 people message it. Four of those eleven messaged purely to ask me questions about HIV and one felt it necessary to send me foul mouthed abuse for seemingly no reason. Which leaves me with six people actually showing an interest in me.

'Let’s look at that for a second shall we? That’s a 92% reduction in interest purely by mentioning my HIV status.'

The reduction is somewhat unsurprising (although you'll note he still seems to be doing reasonably well!), reminding us of the 'fear' that men still associate with HIV+ men.  For Sam, it undoubtedly highlights issue of prejudice and discrimination in that men just don't want to be with someone who is HIV+ because of ill-educated beliefs, fears for their own safety or unease at the need to adapt their own sexual practices.  This has perhaps been compounded by the rise in bareback sex.   Knowing your partner is HIV+ may lead to a decision that a condom is necessary in order to make sure that you don't become HIV+ yourself.  You therefore opt to have sex (bareback) with someone else who states they are not HIV+ in order to 'protect' yourself from HIV.  Spot the flawed logic.

It also doesn't take a genius to see the sexual market forces this sets in train.  More people don't disclose their HIV status at a time of increased bareback, leading in turn to a rise in HIV rates.  This can - and I believe will - continue exponentially.  The only things that would stop this are (1) death.  The return of the holocaust, or (2) growing drug resistance creating increased complications in HIV treatment.

So it is that this one incident documented by UKPostiveLad gives us an insight into much larger trends that are taking place in sex lives globally and driving increased criminalisation - and ever tougher measures - in relation to HIV transmission.

Read Sam's post here.

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Marabelle Blue said...

After reading this article many thoughts came to me. One that condoms are the essence of any sexual relationship. Secondly to date someone that is HIV positive status is to invest in an emotional relationship that sometimes can take it's toll. I speak from experience. It's very taxing on the heart BUT I never, not one ever regretted the time I had with my love. He was the breath of life that I needed at that time. I am completely safe from all diseases. Although he could not perform in the traditional sense we found other ways to enjoy our bodies and when he was sick and he needed me the most I was there till the end. Sometimes things happen beyond our control, that doesn't give anyone the right to disrespect anyone with HIV or think they were some mindless person who didn't care to protect themselves. HIV was a prevalent disease until doctors were able to understand how everyone was getting it. Now that we know it is our responsibility to protect ourselves at all times. Loving someone else means you love yourself enough to take that extra step.

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