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Charity calls for HIV-positive gay men to share their experiences

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  1. Brian Burton 6 Oct 2009, 6:17pm

    Go back to your ‘Silver Surfing’ you poor old soul.
    Nomatter what dreaded diseasees we all are afflicted with, we rather discuss it on line or to individuals. I know when I had the ‘Big C’ I liked to talk it over for phsycological reasons if nothing else. Or would you have them just pin a card to their arses saying ‘Victim Here?’

  2. The reality of living with HIV needs to be broadcast loud and clear to every gay under 25 year old, not restricted to an obscure web site aimed at those already infected. A recent survey of 500 gay men recorded that over a third of under 25’s think HIV is no more serious than getting a dose of any other STI like syphilis or gonnorhoea! The hard-hitting reality of what HIV is has long been airbrushed from HIV campaigns by so-called preventionists clinging to well-worn myths and downright lies that they have used to
    justify “softening up” the virus’ image, such as ‘hard-hitting HIV ads stigmatise HIVers’ (only 4% of this survey’s participants agree with this fallacy); ‘hard-hitting HIV ads deter gay men from coming forward to be tested’ (a whopping 64% disagreed with this fabrication and only 4% agreed); while only 4% of gay men agree with the HIV sector’s insane stance not to run harder-hitting HIV campaigns. Could this announcement by the NAT in fact indicate that they finally have taken heed of the mainstream consensus, and are finally beginning to admit that they have got it wrong for over a quarter of a century and that their dishonest methods have actually enabled the virus’s spread rather than prevented it? Well, at least it’s a first step in the right direction…

  3. Brian: The purpose of this site has nothing to do with counseling. That is an entirely different matter. This is a poor attempt at trying to persuade people to have safer sex. Nothing more. (Like anyone’s even going to bother to go there).

    Codex has it spot on. I’m sorry, but most of the HIV+ people brought this on themselves, and there is no point in keeping quiet in order to protect them, whilst others continue to be infected because of lack of publicity. It needs active major coverage like back in the 80’s AIDS=DEATH. Not very tactful, but it got the message home. People need to have the living crap scared out of them again.

  4. Brian: The purpose of this site has nothing to do with counseling. That is an entirely different matter. This is a poor attempt at trying to persuade people to have safer sex. Nothing more. (Like anyone’s even going to bother to go there).

    Codex has it spot on. I’m sorry, but most of the HIV+ people brought this on themselves, and there is no point in keeping quiet in order to protect them, whilst others continue to be infected because of lack of publicity. It needs active major coverage like back in the 80’s: AIDS=DEATH. Not very tactful, but it got the message home. People need to have the living crap scared out of them again.

  5. Wasn’t it the NAT who, when confronted by surprise the shocking results of the survey conducted at the recent Soho Live, and with no prepared statement to refer to, attempted to rubbish the survey by describing the questions as ambiguous? Strange. The questions made perfect sense to me and the 499 others who took part. I suggest this token exercise by the NAT is too little, too late. An obscure web site that few people will bother to log onto – least of all those most in dire need of graphic info about the reality of living with HIV – is far too little too late. It is truly a damning indictment of these HIV charities that today over a third of gay men under the age of 25 see no difference between contracting HIV and gonnorhea. Shameful.

  6. kiwi.fruit 7 Oct 2009, 12:28pm

    Looking at the website (which is, far from being obscure, the official website for World AIDS Day which reflects the new theme every year, and has been running for many years as far as I am aware), the ask is for people affected by HIV to tell their stories, to give a picture of what it is actually like to be affected by HIV. I think a few of the commenters here could do with actually looking at the website, and also finding out what NAT actually do, as by your comments you are among the people in most need of being educated. How prepared are people to seek information, advice and help if they are stigmatised and vilified by their peers, let alone society in general?

  7. The page at the website COULD be valuable, but who is to say that the NAT won’t filter the contributions, choosing only to publish those contributions that they wish to?

    As for RobN, everybody, remember that time and time again on these pages he has revealed a serious lack of compassion towards anyone who has been subjected to homophobia or who is suffering from the effects of the HIV virus, as well as a hatred of gay men, describing them repeatedly as all being “utterly selfish”.

  8. Thank you Kiwi Fruit for injecting some sanity. One of the most obvious reasons for the current explosion of HIV diagnoses in the gay community is the fact that Aids clearly no longer equals Death. From the tone of their postings, that may disappoint some people on here, but any doctor in the field will tell them that Aids (as opposed to HIV) hardly exists these days and is not something that has much clinical relevance. Combination therapy works and it extends lives. Nobody knows for how long, because the treatment hasn’t been around for long enough. But my doctor, a pioneer who has worked in the field since the days when HIV really was an all-but-certain killer, tells me I should certainly carry on paying my pension contributions. This change in the nature and consequences of the virus is why some young gay men do not make safer sex as big a priority as their forebears did in the 80s and 90s did. It’s also why it’s sensible of NAT to present the voices of people living with HIV, to explain that a diagnosis is not quite the picnic they perhaps imagine. Prevention work is tough and entails a great deal of responsibility. And it’s not just about sparing the feelings of HIV-positive people. The kind of bile and bigotry that has been expressed on here makes those living with the virus less likely to be open about it. It’s well documented that fear of disclosure can make transmission more likely.

  9. Eddy: Considering I lost at least a dozen gay friends to the disease back in the 80’s, it demonstrates how totally uninformed you really are. The difference is, back then, we didn’t know what was killing them, or how to prevent it. Nowadays you can’t walk into any gay establishment or read a gay publication without smacked about the face with the information. I suggest it is not that people don’t know, they don’t WANT to know, and until people start dropping like flies from drug resistance, it will continue. Gay men ARE selfish, and if you can’t look after your own health, why should you expect someone else to do it for you?

  10. RobN, you are absolutely UNBELIEVABLE.

    You appear to answer me reasonably and with respect but then at the end of your response you say to me, me a gay man, “Gay men ARE selfish . . . ”

    Can you not see how you insult people? How you have insulted ME, above? Can you not see that you are declaring that I am selfish because I am gay . . . and yet you simply don’t know me, you’ve never seen me, talked to me, and you have no idea of the unselfish things I have done and continue to do with my life.

    Wake up! You’ve got a serious error in your thinking.

  11. Just want to know how many of the vocal detractors on here talking about how little sympathy they have for HIV+ people would feel justified in going around cancer wards and telling 40 a day smokers they deserved it and brought it on themselves.
    Sounds a hell of a lot like gloating to me. Sure some people are selfish, but to tar everyone infected with the same brush is cavalier bordering on misanthopist.
    And misanthropy is something you brought on yourself which YOU are wholly responsible for. Chew on that.

  12. Maurice Hebert 7 Oct 2009, 6:18pm

    World AIDS Day serves as a solemn reminder of the pressing global issues surrounding HIV and how HIV increasingly cuts across lines of gender, race and sexual orientation. In short, barring the development and universal availability of a vaccine, we might well see our late twentieth-century notions of HIV and ‘who gets it and why’ challenged and altered radically. HIV is predicted to become increasingly a heterosexual concern, and not just in Africa, but in territories comprising the vast bulk of Eurasia and Asia – e.g., the former Soviet Union, India and China. Marking World AIDS Day is also salient reminder of the advancements in treatments, the disparities in availability of treatments worldwide, the persistent and real stigma for all people with HIV, and the alarming truth that HIV, despite all efforts to educate and prevent, is still on the rise. The notion that HIV is a ‘gay virus’ should, of course, be overcome, but it will be overcome anyway, if not by a change in attitude then by a shift in the hard data alone, and in a mere few decades too. Effective treatment for HIV is possible, and HIV does not necessarily entail AIDS anymore, but a sense of complacency in any community, gay or otherwise, that HIV can easily be managed with medications and that it’s ‘no big deal’ if one becomes infected, definitely needs to be challenged. Those of us old enough to remember the advent of HIV and AIDS are troubled to see complacency in younger people regarding HIV. Because we have seen so much loss and death, it can be an affront to us when we see HIV dealt with on the level of a managed disease like diabetes or another STI. I for one am very glad to see the National AIDS Trust invite such stories and personal experiences from gay men with HIV. I firmly believe that all people with HIV, from all walks of life, and regardless of the circumstances in which they contracted HIV, have to face similar issues – similar medical issues, but also similar social and personal issues.

  13. Eddy: I’ve never met a wolf, but I know not to go up to one and pull its tail. Some things are just part of the package, whether you like it or not. Ultimately we are all animals, with certain traits that can be hidden, but never eliminated. I think ALL men are selfish, but straight men have a different set of agendas, and women keep them in line. Gay men set their own destinies, so they do what they want, when they want. I see that as a inalienable fact. It’s not intended as a slur on anyone, however, if you personally consider it an insult, maybe you should try examining yourself that bit closer.

  14. flapjack: I am a heavy smoker and the first to admit I’m an idiot for doing it, but I accept the risks, and I WANT to smoke. It’s not like I am unaware of the risks. Just like AIDS victims. It’s not gloating, I’m not pointing and saying “I told you so”, they already know that.

    All I am saying is, given the choice, I would rather protect the ones that haven’t contracted it, rather than the ones that have.
    If HIV victims have to suffer the stigma to stop others catching it, then it’s a tough lesson, but so be it.

  15. Easy on the hysteria Flapjack. Only RonN is coming close to lacking in sympathy for HIV-pos people on here. No one else is. He is making the observation that most people who are getting HIV today are not doing so accidentally but either taking a calculated risk or making a lifestyle choice to acquire it, while those like Codex and Rob astutely point out that many such people – especially the under-25s – are doing so because they have not been told by HIV prevention campaigns these last 10-15 years about what HIV really is and the reality of living with the disease, and see it as no bigger a deal than catching a dose of the clap. Kudos to NAT for finally breaking with its PC HIV sector drones and facing the reality of what it really is like to live with HIV to serve as a deterrent to young gay men who the likes of THT and GMFA have conditioned to withdraw like porn stars (like yeah, in that moment of ejaculation the one thing they will remember is that crap GMFA ad imploring them to do so!!!). Would that THT, GMFA et al were as courageous as NAT, or had even a smidgen of NAT’s backbone.

  16. Carl, it is necessary to re-emphasize and re-emphasize just how serious and terminal a condition HIV remains, and the fact that HIV knocks 21 years off the average lifespan of each newly-infected person. It is not a picnic in the park as the HIV sector has been spinning these past few years, with their blatant lies about the medications enabling healthy, normal lifespans. The meds themselves administer toxins into the body on a daily basis and, over time, poison the body and lead to a plethora of other potential ailments that kill off many before the virus itself, rather like chemotherapy hastening death for many cancer sufferers. These are the truths that need to be impregnated into the minds of every under 25-year-old gay man today.

  17. Littlebear 8 Oct 2009, 1:10am

    I personally think it is a great idea. I remember a first date with an ex-boyfriend of mine and he told me he was HIV +ve, being HIV -ve I told him I didn’t mind, it just meant that sex would have to be safe.
    He was actually astounded by this message from me and half expected me to run out of the pub and not complete the date. Why? Because of the stigma and prejudice he had already been through. I could see the pain in his eyes from what had happened in the past relinquish. He told me how refreshing it was to have someone with that viewpoint. I do remember those old ads from the 80s with the tombstone and AIDS written on them, they yes can be affective but can also be very detrimental as some people take them at face value and think it’s a death sentence. With the advancement of medications it is not the death sentence it once was.

    I do have to say though it doesn’t help when someone posts quite vitriolic messages on a site like this about something that has affected them like those they lost to HIV. Please remember that somewhere out there some young LGBT person is reading this and maybe just maybe has questions about HIV and all this is doing is scaring them into submission. Someone who has recently been diagnosed too, just think how scared they are right now.

    We have all taken risks at some point or other in our life, sometimes you are lucky with those risks and sometimes you are not.

    Let’s not fight against one another let’s pull together as a community and tackle the issues head on. We have enough other fighting to do.

  18. Littlebear: “Please remember that somewhere out there some young LGBT person is reading this and maybe just maybe has questions about HIV and all this is doing is scaring them into submission.”

    In a nutshell: Good. Even if it scares them to the point they don’t have sex at all, it has achieved it’s purpose. It has been openly demonstrated again and again statistically that all this touchy-feely approach by people like THT *doesn’t work*.

    We are not talking swine flu here, HIV is a killer, and it’s not going away. People have become so complacent about it, it’s now viewed as a “social hazard” like getting the clap.

  19. RobN – Why is it an ‘either/ or’ scenario. Surely we can protect people with responsible sex education without turning everyone already infected into a bunch of social pariahs?
    For the sake of argument, supposing you did get a nasty dose of cancer from all those years you spent smoking, would you accept being treated like a social reject not to be touched with a 40 foot pole, who’s only worth to society was to serve a stark warning to other people?
    I’m quite OK with a strong safe sex message, but why should that be inexorably linked to treating HIV sufferers like dirt? Don’t they have enough on their plate already? A bit of empathy costs nothing.
    The danger of treating sufferers as pariahs is they just don’t get diagnosed at all and carry on infecting people in ignorance.
    I agree with pretty much everything Littlebear said.

  20. Flapjack: I take your point, and I’m not without sympathy, but it seems that NAT and others are the ones that see this as either/or, not me. I am merely stating my opinion that if it does come down to that scenario, that I would opt for those still uninfected. They are the innocent ones in this debate. HIV+ people need all the help and support that is available, but if they have to put up with bad press, then they need to understand that the only way to get the message across is going to be hard and direct, and they may get caught in the crossfire. On top of this, a lot of HIV+ gay men don’t give a damn, and it’s been known for some to even proactively infect others. Check the HIV+ room on Gaydar if you really want to see these people being dangerously irresponsible.

    The message HAS to be that you are responsible for your own sexual health, and all the posters in the world are not going to stop someone getting drunk, frisky and unsafe. I’m sure we have all been there.

    I recently got some duty-free fags from a friend who had been to Malaysia. Each packet graphically displays blackened lungs, dead babies, tracheotomies and a lot of other really nasty stuff. (Far more gory than the equivalent UK packs). Personally, it wouldn’t stop me smoking, but it might shake up kids thinking about it. If we have to use similar tactics to prevent HIV infection, then so be it.

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