“Am I automatically a stigmatizing person if I choose to not be in sexual or romantic relationships with HIV positive people” a gay male friend recently asked me. I contemplated what would be the most appropriate answer to give him. I have to stay I contemplated hard. “Well it depends,” I said, “on just how you go about ensuring that you aren’t (being in sexual or romantic relationships with HIV positive people), and what that would change about your sexual behaviour if you were (with someone with HIV) “.
Does the end of stigma in the gay community mean everyone in sero-discordant relationships? and does choosing to not be sexual or in a relationship with someone of a different status automatically make someone stigmatizing? I know that these questions have been tossed around the comment postings throughout the other facilitators pages. There seems to be three main stances on this subject from both HIV negative and positive men: 1. that sorting based on HIV status is wrong, and stigmatizing towards those living with HIV 2. that it’s not wrong, but simply inneffective 3. that people living with HIV should be quarantined and not having sex with at all.
Obviously, I find number 3 very problematic and a bit concerning. It represents HIV stigma at it’s best.
However I feel that there’s some conversation to be had around number 1. These questions have been on my mind recently as I have been exploring a possible relationship with a very, very attractive and intelligent man living with HIV. For all my knowledge around HIV and the effects of stigma, I’ve found myself contemplating whether or not I would be completely prepared and/or capable of being in a sero-discordant relationship.
I’d be interested to know peoples thoughts on this. Is stigma the main reason gay men both HIV positive and negative sometimes choose to avoid sero-discordant relationships? Is HIV status sorting always a “bad’ thing, or is it simply the ways in which people go about it?