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Gay charity urges gay men to sign up to HIV pledge

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  1. Brilliant campaign and I love the videos

  2. What a refreshing campaign. It just makes sense. I think we all need to push behind this campaign and gmfa to make sure it’s a success.

  3. Good. This is a step in the right direction. And hopefully at the same time GMFA will start campaigning amongst the gay mags, gay saunas, and gay sex-clubs, requesting them to HELP gay men who have taken the “Count Me In” pledge to KEEP TO IT!

    It’s no use gay men making the pledge and then picking up magazines urging promiscuirty, oozing naked sex, or walking into clubs and saunas where there are endless porn videos implanting the message: “Have sex till you drop!”

  4. The five-point pledge is a boldly different idea from the GMFA, and plaudits for its sanctioning. I particularly like pledge 4, but I think a lot more needs to be done – not just by the charity sector but also the gay media – to teach gay men how to let go of any guilt and shame they may have around their sexuality and to truly value and respect themselves, as that is key to teaching them how to, in turn, value and respect others. This theme was recently covered incredibly effectively by Attitude magazine, but this really needs to be a carefully co-ordinated and sustained approach among all the main media. I mean, does anyone ever bother to read QX or Boyx these days save to find out what time various clubs are on? The rest of their pages are filled with the utmost mind-numbing fluff and dross; imagine the transformation that could occur if some of that empty space was harnessed solely with the aim of empowering its readers instead of interviews with brain-dead pop stars and page after page of vacuous club night write-ups and photos of gurning, bug-eyed disco bunnies? Of course every gay man in the UK is not going to commit to the pledge – that is just never going to happen – but if as many gay men as possible can adopt it and vocalise it far and wide – to friends as well as those they have sexual contact with – then it may begin to help reverse the growing cultural tolerance barebacking in our community and, in the long-term, prevent HIV becoming the norm as it now is in the big cities of the USA, where negative men feel isolated and even excluded from the mainstream – i.e.poz – community. A step in the right direction GMFA, though we do still need a gritty campaign spelling out the stark realities of living – and dying – with HIV today to really hit home…

  5. What you’ve said above William is so right.

  6. the big cities of the USA, where negative men feel isolated and even excluded from the mainstream – i.e.poz – community
    .
    As opposed to positive men feeling isolated and even excluded from the mainstream – i.e.neg – community…?
    .
    Is that the extreme picture you want to paint?

  7. It’s not the extreme picture I have any desire to want to paint, Beberts. In many urban US gay communities it just is. In 2003 a film maker called Louise Hogarth directed a critically applauded documentary film called The Gift which explored the bug chasing phenomenon. Speaking of the HIV epidemic in San Francisco at the time she said – “I want to see less death out there and more life. No one really knows anymore what it means to get HIV. There’s great denial. We in the gay community have almost made it positive to be positive. People don’t discuss their status, and when they’re negative they’re kind of ashamed, but when you’re positive you’re out and proud.” One of Louise Hogarth’s film subjects was a young man called Doug Hitzel who moved to San Francisco when he was just 19, whom she described as “too young to get into bars, wasn’t a bodybuilder, and the one community he was accepted into was the barebacking community. You weren’t allowed to reveal your status and if you asked to use a condom you were told to leave. Doug was gay but totally accepted it in his high school. His family supported him. It was the gay community that was the problem.” Extreme? No, reverse stigmatization is a very real problem, yes problem, in densely populated gay communities in urban areas across the USA where many gay men project their guilt and shame at other gay men day in and day out, thereby encouraging one another to lack respect for themselves – a sure fire environment in which diseases easily run rampant. Negativity feeds on negativity, and the cumulative effect of this lack of self-respect among a sector of gay men in the UK is already plain to see. Things aren’t that bad here thank God, just yet, but we are only a few years behind how the HIV epidemic has played out in the USA. And with the cultural tolerance of barebacking in the UK now widespread, rates of infection here at record levels and disinhibiting recreational drugs never more popular, it can only be a matter of time before being HIV-poz is the norm in ghettoized communities around the UK too, and in which socially excluded and marginalized negative men will also feel a pressure to conform/sercoconvert….

  8. “…socially excluded and marginalized negative men will also feel a pressure to conform/sercoconvert….”

    William, you paint a very morally polarized picture of things, and leave aside the elephant in the room – that many if not most gay men want to have condom-less sex. Until we recognise this and admit that sex with condoms is less intimate, less attractive, less sensual and less convenient, then we will get nowhere. The hiv+/barebacking communities in the US (and the smaller ones in the UK) have grown primarily not from the negative “guilt and shame at other gay men day in and day out” that you, in rather emotive and purple prose, rave about, but rather from a positive desire to connect physically and intimately with other men without a rubber barrier. Of course, no one should get into barebacking without a full knowledge of the consequences, but many people who bareback do so having weighed up those consequences and decided that “unlimited intimacy” (to use Tim Dean’s phrase) is of paramount importance.

    Of course, this is something that is difficult to talk about in a society wherein we are supposed to sign up for a normalization pledge in order to be accepted. Nevertheless, we have to be honest and admit that many gay men value condomless sex very highly, and that for a good proportion of them, popping antiretrovirals might be a price worth paying for that intimacy. No one is pressurising them into this stance either – it’s a pursuit of happiness matter, not peer-group pressure.

  9. I had a look at the videos on their facebook page and I have to say I found them inspirational. I especially liked Reions because it felt real, unscripted and honest. You could tell these people are not actors. Denis’s video was quite powerful too and it was refreshing someone of my age to be open and honest about haveing HIV.

    Well done GMFA, more of this please.

  10. I agree that lots of us want intimacy. There is nothing wrong with that. However what I disagree with is that, as gay men, we somehow have to make some kind of deal wherby there is a price to pay for that intimacy. We can have intimacy and be free from STIs. Moreover there are more powerful and lasting forms of intimacy than sex with lots of men that we don’t really know. What type of intimacy is that?
    My partner who has now died was HIV positive. It was part of the love and intimacy that we had to ensure that he didn’t infect me with HIV.
    As gay men we need to break free of all the past oppression tha we faced and sometimes imposed on ourselves. We can now have lasting and loving relationships, we can have intimacy and we can have great mind blowing sex. We have the right to these things as equal citizens of this country without having to pay a price for it. The doors to equality in this country are opening all the time we just need to push them a little further and have the courage to step through.
    That’s why I like this campaign. If we all value ourselves we can and should demand the best future for ourselves – a future that is not tied to a disesae. The only person who can ensure that my future is a healthy one is me.
    Nor do I believe in this poz / neg divide. The men I’ve known with HIV are good caring men who have a virus. They don’t opress me, or marginalise me or infect me. The HIV positive men that I’ve had sex with have willingly played their part in keeping me HiV negative and I thank them for that. It seems to me that this campaign is relevant if you are poitive or negative. All of us contribute as individuals to the things that happen to us as a community and when I fall in love again and get real intimacy, I’ll do that with someone whatever his HIV status.

  11. Thanks for the positive feedback so far. We really appreciate all your comments and suggestions.

    Make sure to count yourself in on our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/gmfa.uk and help spread the word.

    Ian – GMFA

  12. JohnBoy

    Your comments are heartfelt. However, I believe that they are rather coloured by a donnée which suggests that anyone who decides that they want a non-monogamous lifestyle must ipso-facto be classed as someone who is self-oppressing and unloving. It is perfectly possible to have intense, intimate, loving encounters with strangers; some people will want these encounters to be condom-free.

    People require different things from life, and whilst monogamy suits some people, it does not suit others – we should not pathologize anyone simply because we don’t approve of what they are doing.

    Also, it is the case that some negative men in sero-discordant monogamous relationships are happy to hazard contracting the virus because they value barrier-free sex. Of course, the chances of contracting the virus from someone with an undetectable viral load is small to negligible, yet even were it not, people might make a choice to forgo safety for their own reasons and these reasons do not necessarily make them mad or foolish. They are adults making adult decisions (compare people who smoke or do dangerous sports).

    The main thing, for me, around any HIV campaign is to get people tested and to get those who are positive onto treatment; this will in itself lower the contraction statistics, because as I say, an undetectable viral load will mean passing the virus on it unlikely, no matter whether condoms are used or not. And we will never get everyone to use condoms, we have to be realistic about that.

  13. great to see the campaign prompting discussion. it seems to have been to long since people actually had good honest discussion about HIV and what it does to individuals and the community.

    its the reason i took part in the campaign,
    denis

  14. @Joe – Intimacy is an expression of closeness and love. I admit, some men do believe they have to acquire their partner’s strain of HIV to feel really close to them, but really, how can any sane person really equate the risk of transmitting or acquiring a debilitating terminal disease with love? I’m sorry, Joe, but what you are trying to pass off as an expression of intimacy is, for most who are barebacking willy nilly today, simply a selfish desire to have hotter sex and a more sensational orgasm, regardless of the risks involved or the consequences of having to consume hazardous antivirals on a daily basis for the rest of your impaired and curtailed life. The fact that many gay men are acquiring HIV today high on disinhibiting drugs and are lost in the moment at the point of transmission also puts paid to your daft Mills & Boon-like theory. Good work Ian, and I will be following the progress of GMFA’s new initiative with great interest. Our community is reaching a point in the fight against the spread of HIV where it has nothing to lose but everything to gain, so all new approaches to fighting it must be welcomed.

  15. @JohnBoy –

    “It is perfectly possible to have intense, intimate, loving encounters with strangers; some people will want these encounters to be condom-free.”

    Yes, but 99 per cent of these strangers will want intense, intimate, loving encounters with each other ONLY because they have consumed barrier-breaking recreational drugs, which in turn lower their inhibitions and make them more susceptible to HIV infection. Strangers, particularly gay men, just don’t get lovey dovey with each other in any other context (i.e. where disinhibiting substances are not involved). And of course were they not in that loved-up state, of course, they would be more mindful of the risks involved in throwing caution to the wind in that moment of loved-up, sexually charged, condom-less bliss…

    “The main thing, for me, around any HIV campaign is to get people tested and to get those who are positive onto treatment.”

    Strange that. For me the main thing about any HIV campaign has always been whether the message contained within is strong enough to make any sizeable impact on the person it is aimed at. And sad to say for the last 15 or so years the answer has been a consistent no. Why has the prevention message been sidelined in favour of the rush to test us and get us all on treatments? It’s like we are willing our community into one where positive men in ghettoized areas are the majority. We have to get back to basics and uphold the rights of the negative majority of gay men to remain negative. And GMFA’s new campaign is a step in that direction

  16. @William

    So, I express an argument that you disagree with, and so you must patholigize me as insane? No, I am not insane, nor is Tim Dean – a highly respected US academic who writes about barebacking culture in his book Unlimited Intimacy.

    From everything you say, William, you appear to be someone who is determined to be as judgemental and authoritarian as possible on this issue: you condemn people as mad, sick, selfish, drugged-up and out-of-control. This is, of course, the language that society has used to describe homosexuals from time-immemorial. So, far from being someone who wishes to free gays from the tyranny of the past, you wish to further retrench us in it, all under the guise of being concerned with your FELLOW ADULTS’ health (which they must surely be just as capable as you of looking out for).

    We do need new ways of looking at the issue of the transmission of Hiv. Simply calling gay men who don’t use condoms sick, selfish, unloving, drug-addled madmen has nothing new in it.

    By the way, I think William you are over-exaggerating the impact of Hiv on the average person in Western Europe. It is not terminal and, aside from taking antiretrovirals, many positive men do not find their lives “impaired or curtailed”. Your language is completely unhelpful and I would suggest that you be more temperate or hold off on talking publicly on this issue.

  17. “Yes, but 99 per cent of these strangers will want intense, intimate, loving encounters with each other ONLY because they have consumed barrier-breaking recreational drugs, which in turn lower their inhibitions and make them more susceptible to HIV infection.”

    Don’t be silly. People have sex for all kinds of reasons. To just assume that they get lovey dovey because they’ve popped a couple of pills is quite naive.

    “Strangers, particularly gay men, just don’t get lovey dovey with each other in any other context”

    Really? So, what about two men that meet at a party, or a sauna, or a bar? It happens.

    “I mean, does anyone ever bother to read QX or Boyx these days save to find out what time various clubs are on? The rest of their pages are filled with the utmost mind-numbing fluff and dross; imagine the transformation that could occur if some of that empty space was harnessed solely with the aim of empowering its readers instead of interviews with brain-dead pop stars and page after page of vacuous club night write-ups and photos of gurning, bug-eyed disco bunnies? ”

    That I will give you. Our media is concerned with issues that have little subtstance. I’d go even further and ask that GMFA would request sites such as Shagdar and Europoof sign a pledge to promote Safer Sex on their homepages so everyone sees it when they log in.

  18. Joe, I think you are effectively screaming “Discrimination! Bigotry! Prejudice!” in order to try and win your argument. You are literally BEGGING for agreement. William’s argument is rational, I’m afraid, and it is time he and others, like GMFA, started taking action against the ridiculous and unnecessary on-going infections that are occurring in the UK. As for your statement that “many positive men do not find their lives impaired or curtailed”, you are making a generalization. Last week I looked the doctor at my STD clinic straight in the eyes and said to him, “So, tell me, Dr X, have you had HIV+ patients at this clinic telling you they’ve had enough?” His answer was “Yes, quite a few”. “And have you had any asking you to assist them to actually help them end their lives?” “Only two”, he replied. I didn’t continue questioning him any further. You, Joe, may be HIV+ and happy as hell but don’t generalise from that that everybody else is.

  19. @ Jeremy

    “William’s argument is rational” – Since when have accusations & stereotyples of gay men being mad, drug-crazed and selfish been rational? Anything can be justified by being rationalized. What I am asking, perhaps naively given people’s hysteria around the subject, is that people begin to understand WHY people are not using condoms, in a non-judgemental and comprehending way. Only there can be begin with any open discussion around our sex lives and address the question of transmission. (what, by the way, is a “necessary transmission”, seeing as you posit “unnecessary” ones?

    “Last week I looked the doctor at my STD clinic straight in the eyes and said to him, “So, tell me, Dr X, have you had HIV+ patients at this clinic telling you they’ve had enough?” His answer was “Yes, quite a few”. “And have you had any asking you to assist them to actually help them end their lives?” “Only two”, he replied. I didn’t continue questioning him any further. You, Joe, may be HIV+ and happy as hell but don’t generalise from that that everybody else is.”

    Jeremy, you accuse me of being irrational and then come out with this story? You confronted your doctor and got him to admit that “only two” positive men want to be put painlessly to death – exactly what does this illustrate? He must have dozens, if not hundreds, of positive patients!

    If positive men are unhappy, that can have as much if not more to do with social attitudes than their actual physical health.

    My own status I have said nothing about, and is in fact immaterial to the discussion. Deal with what I am saying, don’t make ad hominem presumptions.

  20. @ Jeremy – “Joe, I think you are effectively screaming “Discrimination! Bigotry! Prejudice!”

    By the way, I have said nothing about any of these things. Either you haven’t been reading, or you can’t understand what I am saying. Which doesn’t surprise me, given the anecdote you recount at the end of your post.

  21. @Joe: oh great, so we must all take our lead from academics who operaefrom a totally theroretical level as opposed to one of experience. I would water that listening to these know alls spouting their black and white clap trap over the years is why society is in such a mess and why HIV rates are so high. I mean, some of the bilge that comes from the academic fringe of the CHAPS partnership (naming no named like Sigma) has merely served to keep us on a path that has left our community uninformed and educated about the real risks inherent in hiv infection, and for the same bright sparks to now urge us all to get tested. Isn’t there a saying for an approach that sidesteps prevention and nosedives straight for the solution (that is, testing and medicines)? When we look closer we see that these same academcs are not immune to taking funding from other orgs like the pharmaceuticals with whomdirect conflicts of interests. So no, Joe, if you seriously expect us to trust, let alone believe the words of academics as gospel, you are seriously delooded!

  22. @Kevin

    Where did I suggest taking the word of an academic as gospel? Exaggerate, insult and condemn so you don’t have to think, eh? I simply suggested people read what the guy has to say. I don’t really buy the philistine rejection of research and knowledge that you posit, in any case. But it doesn’t take an academic to tell me that many gay men don’t use condoms and choose that non-use.

    @ Danny
    “I’d go even further and ask that GMFA would request sites such as Shagdar and Europoof sign a pledge to promote Safer Sex on their homepages so everyone sees it when they log in.”

    Not sure what good that would do. Smokers don’t take notice of the warnings on cigarette packets. We’re talking about adults who are choosing to take risks, not children who are accidentally doing something which if they were to suddenly realise it was bad for them, they’d stop doing.

    Let’s get sensible about this, people.

  23. “Last week I looked the doctor at my STD clinic straight in the eyes and said to him, “So, tell me, Dr X, have you had HIV+ patients at this clinic telling you they’ve had enough?” His answer was “Yes, quite a few”. “And have you had any asking you to assist them to actually help them end their lives?” “Only two”, he replied. I didn’t continue questioning him any further. You, Joe, may be HIV+ and happy as hell but don’t generalise from that that everybody else is.”

    Ok, you are officially scary. You went to your GP and got him to talk about potentially dangerous information putting his clients and his co-workers at risk? Seriously – I don’t know what’s worse. The fact that you actually asked the GP or the fact he relayed this information to you. What’s your occupation again?

    Academics are the ones that do the initial leg work. So I would personally argue that they know their stuff – they have to to work in their respective fields. They don’t tend to just make figures and create panic for fun.

    Anyhow, are you and William in cahoots? Can I ask that if you go out that you refrain from picking up anything sharp from the kitchen?

  24. You have a point but then I think part fo the problem is that HIV is now largely invisible and rarely spoken about. This goes some way to give it some presence and for a new generation it would be more effective.

    Also, these sites and magazines do also have a responsibility to look out for us – after all, they make enough money from us.

  25. Joe

    I’m sorry if my posting implied to you that people in non-monogamous relationships are self oppressed or are unloving. This was not my intent and actually far from pathologising anyone, I completely understand it. I’m not in a monogamous relationship (or any relationship) right now and I enjoy sleeping with other men. I don’t have a problem with this at all. I was trying to communicate that intimacy is a good and normal thing but that we don’t have to put ourselves at risk of HIV because of it.
    However, while sex with other men is physically intimate, it isn’t the level of intimacy that I experience with someone I’ve made a commitment to and love. In fact, while I have a great time having casual sex it’s not love. I like the people I’ve had casual sex with (quite a lot actually – like that is not casual sex) but I don’t love them. And I hope most of my future casual partners like me – like me enough not to put me at risk of HIV infection.
    This really isn’t an attack on anyone’s decisions or behaviour but help me to understand something: if a sexual encounter with a stranger is in anyway loving and intimate, isn’t there enough love and intimacy in that encounter to not want to harm or be harmed in any way? And I’m not just talking about HIV, I want people I have sex with to have a great time, I want them to be fully consenting to the sex we have, I want them come away from the experience with nothing but good memories. And I want the same for myself.
    I can understand that some people want sex without condoms, I can understand that people in sero-discordant relationships may choose to have sex without condoms, what I’m struggling to understand is how a person putting a stranger at risk of HIV infection is done with love and intimacy?
    Lets not start attacking each other over this debate, but rather have an honest and sensible exchange of views.
    All this campaign is asking us to do is look after ourselves and each other. That seems perfectly sensible to me.

  26. woweee! there are some guys here seriously going off the deep-end because they feel they have a right to condomless sex with abandon & as if AIDS didn’t exist. any minute now there’ll be a complete AIDS denialist entering the discussion.

  27. I am sure most of the guys drawn to the sleaze sex clubs and saunas that are given the blessing of tht and gmfa with their Play Zone gimmick are not looking lovingly into each others’ eyes and whispering sweet nothings as they pass the Meth pipe around and indiscrimanately pass their pathogens around without a care in the world. Get real Joe!

  28. Dozens of studies have shown a high proportion of HIV infections (in gays and straights) occur when people are under the effects of alcohol or drugs.

    As good as this GMFA Pledge is, somehow I doubt people will remember it once they’ve had a few drinks, taken a drug, or are under the power of poppers.

  29. “I am sure most of the guys drawn to the sleaze sex clubs and saunas that are given the blessing of tht and gmfa with their Play Zone gimmick are not looking lovingly into each others’ eyes and whispering sweet nothings as they pass the Meth pipe around and indiscrimanately pass their pathogens around without a care in the world. Get real Joe!”

    Really? so you’ve sween them with a Meth pipe then in a sex club?

    “Dozens of studies have shown a high proportion of HIV infections (in gays and straights) occur when people are under the effects of alcohol or drugs.

    As good as this GMFA Pledge is, somehow I doubt people will remember it once they’ve had a few drinks, taken a drug, or are under the power of poppers.”

    The Power of Poppers? Do you know what poppers do? The effects tend to last about a minute or so if you’re lucky. It’s not crack.

    Also, I agree in some instances HIV transmission will occur because of the loss of inhibitions thanks to drugs but not all. However, do any of really know the exact figures? Studies can say anything you want them to.

    Also, people who frequent sex clubs probably have a better awareness of HIV and safe sex in most cases anyhow. Perhaps not..I don’t know.

    HIV is a very real threat – magazines, gay comapanies, bars, clubs and everywhere else which is a gay space needs to wise up and make it visible. Posters, videos, information, help, advice…

  30. @Joe –

    “From everything you say, William, you appear to be someone who is determined to be as judgemental and authoritarian as possible on this issue: you condemn people as mad, sick, selfish, drugged-up and out-of-control.”

    Ooh! Pot, kettle, black dear?

    “This is, of course, the language that society has used to describe homosexuals from time-immemorial.”

    This is, of course, the sort of reactionary language that posters on this forum resort to when they are scraping the bottom of the barrel. Joe, really, your modus operandi here appears to be to excuse poz gay men who wilfully and carefreely transmit their strain of HIV – be it to negative men or other poz men – and to portray all poz men as victims. Now, it is all very well us being told ad infinitum by the HIV charity sector that it is the responsibility of negative men, not poz men, to protect themselves during sex. But when are we ever going to hear from the same vocal chords that poz men must take responsibility for the fact that they contracted the virus in the first place instead of constantly disempowering them by portraying them as helpless victims? I would suggest that a fair few younger gay men who have contracted HIV in recent years are indeed victims, as they zero-converted naively believing HIV to be no more hazardous than contracting any other STI, thanks to the total absence of realistic and hard-hitting campaigns that actually spell out the virus’s dangers. However, most poz gay men today contracted the virus full well knowing what the consequences of their irresponsible actions could be. They have to take responsibility for that fact, and for the fact that their selfish lapse of sanity in that moment of ignited passion costs the state almost £20k a year to treat, just as smokers have to take responsibility for the cancer they may eventually develop and the cost of their life-extending drugs which, incidentally, they are gradually being deprived of on the grounds that they are too expensive (are we really naive enough to believe the same won’t happen to top-line AIDS drugs in future?). That is one of the reasons I am enamoured of GMFA’s new initiative; because it includes personal responsibility and self-respect within its 5 pledges. though it should go one better and add a 6th pledge:

    “I will take responsibility for my HIV and respect the health of those I partner with.”

    In fact, WHY is this not a part of the new campaign? Sounds like a no-brainer to me! Ian?

  31. Will makes some valid point. It seems strange that GMFA would not include a pledge of personal responsibility for positive men unless they have not really changed their ways at all and are still bending over backwards to avoid offend positive men? As William points out, painting positive men as victims achieves nothing, and rankles them as much as it does everyone else. Personal responsibility needs to be practised by all, negative and positive gay men alike, and until that objective is made into a mantra that is shouted from the rooftops them we will never get a grip on stemming the tide of HIV infections engulfing our world.

  32. @ William
    “Joe, really, your modus operandi here appears to be to excuse poz gay men who wilfully and carefreely transmit their strain of HIV – be it to negative men or other poz men – and to portray all poz men as victims.”

    You continue to spout absolute rubbish which has nothing to do with what I have written. At no point have I suggested that positive men are victims, nor do I believe that positive men should (or, in fact, do) seek to spread the virus by stealth, as you seem to hysterically argue.

    I will reiterate my only point: that many gay men, positive and negative, in monogamous relationships and in casual encounters, value condom-free sex above the risks associated with the activity. Until we look at this with a clear, non-judgemental and comprehending fashion, the debate around hiv transmission will get nowhere.

    “…the fact that their selfish lapse of sanity in that moment of ignited passion costs the state almost £20k a year to treat, just as smokers have to take responsibility for the cancer they may eventually develop and the cost of their life-extending drugs…”

    Here you descend to lecturing your fellow adults on citizenship and economics, the latter of which is probably your main concern (you, as a morally just citizen, don’t want to have to pay for anyone else’s desires).

  33. danny, you challenge Bill’s assertion that gay men meeting as strangers more often than not have to be under the influence of something to be intimate with each other. You mention bars and saunas, but surely in bars many such men are under the influence of the drug known as alcohol, and at my local sauna I would not describe the mechanical, emotionless arse-in-the-air-waiting-for-an-anonymous-poke type of sex usually to be found there as in any way intamate. Oh, and Joe, last time I checked there was still no cure for hiv/aids and the latest studies from america show that most users of hiv drugs will eventually either die prematurely from complications associated with the drugs if not from full blown aids itself. From what I can see it is you being judgemental of others who don’t buy into your liberal, carefree attitude about gay men using the flimsiest of excuses not to wrap it up and condemning others for not agreeing with you. In fact all you seem to do here is condemn, condemn and then condemn some more
    everybody who doesn’t agree with you. Are you one of these think-they-know-it-all academics you speak of by any chance? Pot and kettle indeed.

  34. Well Joe, regarding your last comment, if there really are gay men out there who have mAde a clear headed and sober decision to play Russian roulette with their lives for the extra buzz and titilation that condom free sex reportedly provides then they are either insane or the lowest of the low and deserving of society’s utmost contempt. That is not me being judgemental, it is the truth. And the point has already been made about the cost to society of their craven, selfish behaviour, which you also point a finger at as the poster having a deeper agender. Jeepers, do you really think we can afford every gay men behaving like this and declaring raw se is the best sex and abandoning protection? Have you not heard what a mess we are already in thanks to frivolos spending in the public sector? What planet are you living on??????

  35. Danny, no, it’s not true that ‘Studies can say anything you want them to’. Coming out with something like that is an irrational way of denying reality. Studies reach conclusions that arise from evidence. Researchers can’t present a conclusion that does not arise from the evidence that they have amassed.

    Joe, you say ‘many gay men, positive and negative . . . in casual encounters, value condom-free sex . . .’ and that we should be ‘non-judgemental’ about this.

    Sorry, mate, I reserve my right and my responsibility to be VERY judgemental indeed about any individuals who engage in what you call “condom-free sex” in casual encounters.

    You try to sneak in the sense that people have some kind of human right to “value condom-free sex’. What kind of ridiculous and totally irresponsible fantasy world are you living in, Joe?

    The verb ‘value’ is inappropriate in this context. You are literally saying that one should treasure the possibility of contracting any one of dozens of different STDs and infecting others with such STDs.

    Your use of the phrase ‘condom-free sex’ is similarly inappropriate. You are trying to put a positive spin on absolutely irresponsible and highly dangerous unsafe sex. It’s not ‘condom-free sex’ you are supporting, Joe: it’s UNSAFE SEX.

    You appear to be living in a bubble. You really do need to get real. The beliefs you have are dangerous.

  36. I seem to keep playing catch-up on these discussions (see my posting on the RVT event), but they are informative if nothing else. We all have a responsibility to look out for ourselves. It takes 2 people (or more) to have unsafe sex. Condoms don’t protect for everything, but they’re a pretty good defense barrier. I’m not proud of having HIV, but I don’t hide it, because I want people to know that we exist and look like everyone else, as much so that people can ask me about what living with it is like. I kick myself on my down days, because it’s my fault that I became positive, but I’m grateful for the drugs that keep me alive. I think that i have a responsibility not to infect other people, and taking my meds and keeping my viral load is part of that, as is using condoms. Talking about it is hard, and rejections from potential sexual partners are hard to take, but if I’m being honest with myself, then I think I should be honest with them. And that is why I think the GMFA initiative is a great move. As I said in my previous posting, no-one gave us THT, or GMFA, or the myriad of other such groups. We made them happen ourselves, and to do that, we came together and were honest with each other, about our fears, our desires, and in may cases, our status. I’m glad I have the meds, but I would want anyoneelse to have to go through the difficulties that being HIV positive brings. Simple as that!

  37. @Joe – “I will reiterate my only point: that many gay men, positive and negative, in monogamous relationships and in casual encounters, value condom-free sex above the risks associated with the activity. Until we look at this with a clear, non-judgemental and comprehending fashion, the debate around hiv transmission will get nowhere.”

    Is it just me or does this guy truly beggar belief?! No Joe, SOME gay men who are fully aware of the inherent risks involved value condom-less sex above their own health and well being and, in turn, the health and well being of others BECAUSE THEY LACK RSPECT FOR THEMSELVES AND THIOSE THEY PARTNER WITH. In other words they don’t like themselves very much; otherwise even the thought of going bareback for a bit of skin on skin “intimacy” when the stakes are so high would not cross their minds. So Please stop trying to be their apologist and making it sound like this selfish attitude is something we have to accept. It is people like you who, through constantly highlighting and, by inference, glamorizing such socially unacceptable behaviour in turn encourage others to see such tearing down of the boundaries as appealing and tempting. And before we know it, just as happened in ghettoized communities in the USA, a pack mentality takes over and impressionable gay men are prone to losing all reason and following suit. That is exactly what happened in San Francisco, where apologists like yourself condemned as judgemental anyone who dared to speak out about gay men who began abandoning safe sex methods when the new wave of antivirals and HAART were introduced.

    This brings us full circle, to the point I made at the beginning of this thread about why GMFA are to be applauded after years of tip-toeing around the issue for including the valuing of self and one’s health as one of their key pledges, and vocalizing their commitment to these life-affirming pledges loud and clear, no matter how much you diaspprove. Because when we respect ourselves we give permission and empower others to do likewise, and when our community is empowered diseases do not run rampant. A disempowered community in which we allow HIV to run rampant has NOTHING to be proud or to shout about, does it? Whereas an empowered community that has won the battle has EVERY reason to be loud and proud! Do read Marks’ posting (above). You could learn a lot from how he takes responsibility for his status and the respect he has both for himself and those he partners with. Certainly nowhere do I state that gay men with HIV are willy nilly seeking to infect others. Rather, there is most certainly a sub group of gay men, including those you identify, who do for the simple reason that they have such a carefree attitude towards HIV combined with a lack of love. Because love is what is absent when you don’t respect yourself and others, and that is why it’s time to encourage and empower gay men to free themselves of the guilt and shame that they have been made to feel about who they are – much of that self-imposed – and transmute that pain into a positive vibe.

    Finally Joe you infer that I am being condemning and discriminating when I dare to proffer that a community in which negative men are in the majority is preferable to one in which gay men have become so self-loathing and disempowered that HIV is the norm. Well you know what? If that is what you call being judgemental and condemning, then YES, TOO DAMN RIGHT I AM!!!! In fact, pass me a soap box and a microphone and I will broadcast that message from one end of Old Compton Street to the other! Where your argument falls totally flat is that you try to rationalize your argument in much the same way as the non-entity academic you were so quick to name drop in your initial thread. Well sometimes we have to look at things through a wider lens and accept that some things need saying, even if they risk hurting the feelings of a few poz men who don’t want to hear the truth or take responsibility for their status. If the end result if getting through to negative men and impressing upon them that a life without HIV is a live best lived, then that is the price we must pay.

    Even the most callous hearted cannot fail to recognize that it is because HIV has been wrapped up in layers of cotton wall since the 1990s, which has served only to accelerate the speed at which HIV has been allowed to spread because gay men have been cosseted from being given the hard hitting facts of what it still means to live and die with the HIV virus percolating and gestating through your bloodstream. You then attempt to accuse me of having an ulterior motive and, by inference, lacking in compassion for poz men because I am appalled of the cost of this disease-mongering (for want of a better term) to the tax payer. Well TOO RIGHT I AM APPALLED!!! Do you think the £20k it costs to treat someone over one year just comes out of thin air? Something has to pay for each person who makes one selfish decision to deliberately or carelessly acquire HIV. It could be at the cost of someone’s job in the public sector; the cost to supply a soup kitchen for several weeks; or to supply drugs that keep alzheimers at bay for 100 people over the same period. All actions have consequences, and it is about time that some gay men realized that for every preventable new zero-conversion, someone or people elsewhere are paying the price. So let’s stop the selfishness and dispense with the excuses and pledge our support for GMFA’s Count Me In campaign!

  38. bloody hell, william! that’s telling it like it is. can’t agree with u more! 100%!

  39. As a few people have already stated, this campaign is all about everyone coming together to support this cause. You can do this right now by joining our cause online and pledging your support here: http://www.causes.com/causes/544086-gmfa-s-count-me-in-hiv-prevention-campaign/about?m=81df965a

    Please spread the word and let’s work together to stop the spread of HIV in our community.

    Ian – GMFA

  40. You can count me in! I’ve joined

  41. “Well Joe, regarding your last comment, if there really are gay men out there who have mAde a clear headed and sober decision to play Russian roulette with their lives for the extra buzz and titilation that condom free sex reportedly provides then they are either insane or the lowest of the low and deserving of society’s utmost contempt. That is not me being judgemental, it is the truth”

    No it’s you being judgemental. Let’s not forget that there are many reasons why people choose not to use a condom, not matter how irresponsible that actually is.

    “danny, you challenge Bill’s assertion that gay men meeting as strangers more often than not have to be under the influence of something to be intimate with each other. You mention bars and saunas, but surely in bars many such men are under the influence of the drug known as alcohol”

    No actually, I challanged the completely irrational assumption that gay men in sex clubs would pass some sort of meth pipe around and that that rant about the “power of poppers” was laughable.

    “Danny, no, it’s not true that ‘Studies can say anything you want them to’. Coming out with something like that is an irrational way of denying reality. Studies reach conclusions that arise from evidence. Researchers can’t present a conclusion that does not arise from the evidence that they have amassed.”

    True. However, there are equally as many incidents when people have presented research and academiac papers which argue a whole host of things and can take evidence from all manner of arenas to further a cause. I can argue for evolution and against it for example by simply going to the church or to a lab.

  42. From GMFA’s Count Me In manifesto on the above link:

    “GMFA’s goal for the ‘Count Me In’ campaign is to move towards a point where we all, as gay men, are confident and empowered to take responsibility for our own health, where we are supportive of each other and we can openly discuss issues such as HIV status and safer sex without fear or stigma, and where the barriers to effective condom use are overcome. By working together to achieve this, we can prevent new infections and make a real difference to the wellbeing of our community. ”

    Wow, this is powerful stuff, and it is brilliant to see this emerging from the GMFA who have taken a lot of stick over the years for not being so upfront in their approach to tackling HIV. They deserve our full support here, guys (and gals). Indeed, it would be suicidal of our community NOT to rally together and get this pledge drive moving,

    Way to go, Ian and Cary!

  43. Some 92,000 are known to be living with HIV/AIDS, this would be a good target to use GMFA on the responses back from within the HIV/AIDS community.

  44. I agree. So far it looks like only 88 members have signed up on Facebook so far, although correct me if I’m wrong as I must be the only person left alive not to inhabit this world so I will have to find another way of pledging my support. I trust GMFA will be rolling this campaign out to the masses so I look forward to seeing the numbers explode.

    Also you can’t argue with what William says at post 37. Could GMFA incorporate some of his wisdom into the Count Me In campaign in some way? If nothing else he certainly appears to have shut Joe up (which can be no bad thing!)

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