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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

HIV: ¿ARE YOU POSITIVE ABOUT BEING NEGATIVE?

Majorities tend to be silent, just like the overwhelming majority of gay men -- that is, the (approximately) four out of five gay men who are HIV-negative who rarely initiate conversations about HIV. But if you think about it, being HIV-negative is, in a way, born out of a bunch of nothingness. The only way a person knows they're negative is because their test results have indicated an absence of antibodies to HIV; nothing was detected, nothing's there. Plus, lightning can strike, so an element of luck is involved no matter how risk-averse you've been (though, certainly, some gay men are "luckier" than others in this respect, if you catch my drift). Also, a person is interested in hearing not that they are HIV-negative but that they aren't HIV-positive. Having heard that, they breeze out of the clinic with the knowledge that HIV is absent in their bloodstream, and by the time they're halfway down the street, HIV has pretty much evaporated from their psyche too. And, being negative isn't a guaranteed permanent, so there's only so far it can be affixed to identity.

However, despite HIV being present in gay sexual networks since at least the mid 1970s, most gay men have remained negative, and annual rates of infection have remained relatively stable for decades. This must mean, surely, that millions of gay men around the world have actually been engaged with the idea of staying negative and have known themselves to be negative, in some cases for decades now. Yet there's no fraternal vibe among HIV-negative men, no thrust of any kind of HIV-negative identity, and I wish this were different.

I think that if HIV-negative men were more assertive about their status, they could take on a fairer share of responsibility in regard to HIV prevention. Remember, being HIV-negative means that you have an HIV status this shows an absence of antibodies and that doesn't mean an absence of status. If you're negative, you have a HIV status: you're HIV-negative. HIV-positive men have their own HIV status to manage. It's not their responsibility to manage yours too, but it seems that they're expected/demanded to do so by most negatives I know.

For example, positive men are expected (and in some parts of the world required by law) to disclose to potential sex partners the fact that they're positive. I'm negative, but I think I can imagine how awkward disclosure can be, because the few times I said I'm negative pre-sex, the room temperature plunged, and instantly too. And it didn't warm back up again, either. Yet as far as I understand it, the intended beneficiary of disclosure is the HIV-negative person, but it's the HIV-positive person who is obliged to play benefactor.


Having said that, disclosure isn't always an easy thing to hear, either. So if disclosure is going to be a drag for everyone, then I think everyone should be expected to play an equal part. So maybe it might it make a difference if HIV-negative individuals got in first, disclosure-wise, and announced their status. It can't hurt to try, can it? 

4 comments:

  1. Good post! I agree with you. My standard line when I am with a new guy "I am negative and intend to stay that way... so put on a condom..or it is good bye"

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  2. Ethically, it's a conversation that ought to be had right away and as stated, 'it isn't the other guy's responsibility to manage your condition' but it should be.

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    Replies
    1. I have the conversation with every man that came my way some took it as it is and others...

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