HIV is now a manageable chronic illness but stigma and discrimination still persists.
In a sexual context, people are sometimes rejected because they choose to disclose they are HIV positive. While some men may make an informed and personal choice not to have sexual relations or relationships with HIV positive men, others may make decisions and choices that stem from misinformation, myths, fear, and ignorance, based upon an outdated reality of what it is to live with HIV today.
Men have reported being asked stigmatising questions on hook-up apps and sexual networking sites such as ‘are you clean/unclean?’ or ‘have you got anything?’. Name-calling has also been reported when a person discloses their HIV positive status such as ‘leper’ and ‘criminal’.
HIV positive and HIV negative men can play a vital role in challenging negative, stigmatising and judgmental attitudes, particularly on hook-up websites and Apps.
If you are, or have been, offended by comments or questions you have received about your HIV status (or someone else’s), and are contemplating challenging this, consider the following:
Understanding how HIV is and is not transmitted can help reduce misconceptions that lead to HIV stigma and encourage early testing and treatment for HIV. It is important to understand the medical advances in HIV treatment; that people on effective treatment can live a long and healthy life and cannot transmit HIV to partners. This is also known as ‘undetectable’ equals ‘untransmittable’ (U=U).
If you are affected by HIV-related stigma, and/or discrimination, seek support and advice.