“Unprotected sex with an HIV positive person? You’re disgusting” – a negative stigma left by a terrified generation over 30 years ago. And it needs to end.
Reporter: Ryan Yeo | Sub-Editor: Joe Carey
When I tell people that my partner is HIV positive, it isn’t the concerned head tilt with the quick awkward twinge in their mouth that bothers me – it’s the look of absolute non-understanding behind their eyes. When I then tell them that we also have unprotected sex, I can’t help but cringe with them when they look at me with incompressible disgust.
I cringe, because the truth is I can hardly blame them for their reaction. I would love to be be confident and not share the same worries as the public but the reality is that I’m equally scared of contracting HIV. While my argument isn’t to be totally careless in contracting the virus simply because you know there’s treatment, I also don’t want people to be terrified of it because of misinformation from a homophobic media-fueled prejudice over 30 years ago. People are still unaware of key facts regarding HIV, and it’s this uncertainty that allows people to fall back onto stereotypes surrounding the disease because it’s easy; it’s easy to be ignorant about something that doesn’t necessarily concern you.
Unfortunately, this ignorance leads to a lack of conversation and therefore a lack of clarity. Ask yourself, are you aware that people with HIV are now living the same lifespan as those that don’t? Did you know that a current study, called the PARTNER study, has put the transmission risk of HIV at around 0% if the positive partner is undetectable? Do you even know what undetectable means?
This podcast, a frank conversation between my partner and myself, aims to quell any questions or misconceptions surrounding HIV. To make any progress, it needs to start with curiosity. Curiosity leads to a question. And questions lead to knowledge. And when enough people are aware that HIV isn’t the death sentence or the social depressant that it was in the 80’s, we can usher in a new era of sexual health positivity in a world that desperately needs it.