Feb 2/09 HIV stigma radiates from behind the bench
It always pains me to look at comments left on Xtra, or any other gay venue when it comes to issues regarding HIV and disclosure.
Sky Gilbert ran a piece regarding a case where a positive fellow infected 13 women here in Ontario. Always, when I am on this subject, I have to run the disclaimer that I would never support this behaviour. This is wilful and intentional harm to the women he exposed.
The article spoke to some of the implications of this court case and the grey area of sex, disclose, and what is and isn’t illegal.
Really, to only reason why I went through the comments was to find something for a post here. Otherwise I dare not go near.
To my surprise the majority of comments were ones that seemed more or less enlightened. On fellow who was closeted about his status wrote, and I was glad he did.
Once again, I got on my soapbox and started writing away to leave a comment. Near the end, I said to myself, “Ah screw it.”
However, I did copy this comment to leave here, and I’d like to get other people’s thoughts on it. I thought this fellow responded very well.
“But I find it hard to sympathize with HIV-positive people who complain that being forced to disclose every time cuts down on the pool of potential sex partners. Too bad!” — I am so sick of hearing this idea that I *have* to say something. This is not the reason people don’t disclose. The reason we don’t disclose is because you can’t control gossip and everyone around you can treat you differently when they know, from the workplace to the bar to family. It changes your life for the worse and that is not fair. A lot of negative folks say “that’s your opportunity to educate,” but that’s easy for them to say. I know many, many guys who regret how open they have been about their status. It doesn’t make stigma vanish. It makes life harder. Please believe me when I say that the risk of disclosure DOES NOT have to do with being greedy for sex. Calling BS, Toronto ON