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Watch HIV-positive guys answer the mean messages they get on hook-up apps

Nick Duffy November 24, 2015

A new video sees HIV-positive men read some of the offensive, ridiculous and ignorant message they receive on hook-up apps like Grindr.

The clip from gay men’s health charity GMFA aims to challenge the wave of hatred often faced by men who disclose their HIV status on app profiles – despite disclosure allowing people to make informed choices.

The charity gathered a group of poz men, who were taking part in its ‘HIV Stripped Bare’ photo shoot, to respond to the mean messages.

Though some of the messages were outright offensive – “You’re a walking disease mate” – many of the comments were also ignorant about the basic facts of HIV.

One commonly-received question is from men who don’t understand why people disclose their status, asking: “Why do you think it’s anyone’s business to know you are HIV+?”

One of the men explained: “Well, if we’re going to f**k then you should probably know.

“Not because you’re at risk because I’m undetectable which means you can’t get it – just because it’s kind of a decent things to do,”

Another said: “I’m not wearing it as a badge, I’m telling you because I’m allowing you to make an informed decision.”

In some parts of the UK, it’s also the law for men to disclose. Men in Scotland have faced charges for not disclosing their status – even if transmission hasn’t taken place,

Men of the comments were plain nasty – with hook-up app users claiming: “I wouldn’t want anything to do with an ugly pile of HIV like you”, and “Sluts like you deserve it.”

The guys responded: “People with bad attitudes deserve stuff, people who are aggressive deserve stuff, people who hurt other people deserve stuff… people having sex doesn’t come into it.”

The men also responded to a message claiming HIV “teaches you to stop being a slut” – yes, really, a message sent on a hook-up app complaining people are sluts.

One guy responded: “I deserve a lot of things. I deserve being given presents, being taken out for dinner, but this I didn’t deserve to have it. One thing I am not is a slut.

Of the level of prejudice on the apps in general, a participant explained: “One thing that does concern me is that for a lot of guys that have just been diagnosed, and can’t speak to their family, friends, partner or anyone else.

“Sometimes a hook-up app is the only connection that they’re having. To disclose their status, and have that be the response they’re met with – it’s potentially really damaging.”

GMFA CEO Matthew Hodson said, “The medical treatment for HIV has had a dramatic impact on the health and life expectancy of those of us who are living with HIV. Unfortunately, the progress we’ve made in tackling the stigma associated with an HIV positive diagnosis has not been as fast. The all too visible stigmatisation of people living with HIV discourages people from testing, or talking honestly about HIV, their risk and their testing history. In a very real sense, stigma helps to perpetuate HIV.

“We’ve seen that education can have a positive impact on the way that people treat those of us with HIV. Understanding the benefits of treatment and the impact that an undetectable viral load has on transmission risk helps to dispel ignorance and fear. GMFA are committed to tackling stigma and ensuring that all gay men are able to enjoy better health and great sex.”

More: app, apps, Gay, Grindr, HIV, HIV-positive, hook up, LGBT, positive, stigma, tech

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