Photos: These HIV-positive guys are tackling stigma by stripping off
HIV-positive guys are hoping to tackle stigma on World AIDS Day… by stripping off.
Fifteen men from across the UK who are living with HIV stripped off for gay men’s health charity GMFA to raise awareness, ahead of World AIDS Day on December 1.
The men posed for FS Magazine’s ‘HIV Stripped Bare’ issue – which aims to “show the world that HIV-positive men can be sexy too”.
Sadiq, 25, who posed for the shoot, said: “Stigma can come from two very different places: ignorance and maliciousness. While ignorance is something that can be tackled, maliciousness I have absolutely no time for.”
If you think any of the men look familiar – that’s because they also recorded a viral YouTube hit during the shoot, responding to the mean messages they got on hook-up apps after declaring their HIV status.
FS editor Ian Howley said: “What struck me about the responses to the survey was the number of HIV-positive gay men who felt unattractive, unwanted and less sexual because they have HIV.
“Everyone wants to feel wanted, to feel sexy, and to have a healthy sex-life. Everyone who stripped for us is living with HIV.
“Some have been living with HIV for decades, some for only for a few months, but all decided to get naked because they wanted to show you that HIV doesn’t have to stop them from being who they are.”
The CEO of GMFA, Matthew Hodson, said: “Stigmatising people with HIV discourages men from testing and accessing the treatment that can save their lives and make them less likely to transmit the virus to their sexual partners.
“Stigma discourages gay and bisexual men from having honest discussions about HIV status and past risk behaviour.
“This is why it’s so vital that we bring an end to HIV stigma by dispelling the ignorance and fear that still surrounds this virus.
“At GMFA we have seen that we can change the way that our community thinks about HIV and HIV risk by providing information in a frank and accessible way.
“GMFA’s education work improves gay men’s sexual health and challenges HIV stigma.
“The support we get from the gay community, and from those people who value our communities, makes this work possible.”