Calum McSwiggan

Don’t Talk About AIDS

In Gay, Love on June 1, 2012 at 8:18 am

‘The subject no longer has to be mentioned by name. Someone is sick. Someone else is feeling better now. A friend has just gone back into the hospital. Another has died. The unspoken name, of course, is AIDS’

– David W. Dunlap

A couple of months ago I went on a date with a boy I met on Grindr, we did the usual dinner and drinks combination, and he slipped away at the end of the evening with a gentle goodnight kiss.

We got on really well, and I eagerly messaged him the next day asking if he’d like to meet again, but disappointingly I received no response. Just to be sure that my previous message hadn’t been lost in the cyberspace, I tried getting in touch about a week later. I asked how he was, asked whether he’d like to meet again, and this time he responded.

 ‘Hey… I had a really nice time but you having aids really scares me, I’m sorry but I don’t think we should meet again’ 

I was well and truly baffled as to where he’d drawn this assumption, I don’t have HIV/AIDS, and never alluded to the fact that I might. By the time I attempted to correct him and explain that it was all a big misunderstanding, though, he had already blocked and deleted me from both Grindr and Facebook.

After some deliberation I recalled that we had had a conversation about AIDS over dinner, where I had explained the difference between HIV and AIDS to him, and told him I knew of some people living with HIV in the local area. He must have confused what I was telling him, and assumed that I was a carrier myself.

When sharing this story with friends, they all had the same painstakingly obvious advice for me: when you’re on a first date, don’t talk about AIDS. It goes without saying that bringing up a potentially fatal illness over dinner doesn’t exactly scream romance, but then it dawned on me that those out there living with HIV don’t really have a choice.

People living with HIV commonly consider it their responsibility to make it known that they are a carrier as soon as possible, and to be constantly slammed down with rejection in response can’t be anything but soul-destroying.

UKPositiveLad anonymously blogs about his experiences of living with HIV, and after reading extracts about his dating life, and how he was once almost driven to suicide, I was well and truly moved to tears.

As a community we attach such a negative stigma to HIV/AIDS- we slap the HIV positive with the label of being a slut, we make jokes about them, refering to AIDS as the Anally Injected Death Sentence, and some even deny that HIV/AIDs exists at all. It’s truly revolting that we can behave this way.

Without the risk of pregnancy, it’s become pretty common for gay men to have regular unprotected sex without concern, not truly realising what risks they are really exposing themselves to- HIV/AIDS isn’t just a myth made up to stop us having fun, it’s real and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

I think one of the main problems with AIDS awareness is that nobody is talking about it- it’s a hard subject to deal with but I think it’s important that we do. I recommend watching House of Boys and Philadelphia, both are heartbreaking stories about gay men living with HIV/AIDs, and they’re both likely to spark up conversation.

Do your part to spread AIDS awareness today

 Let’s talk about AIDS.

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