Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Changing World of AIDS; Stigma, PrEP, and Beyond

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Today is World AIDS Day. Thankfully, there is still active research and because of new revelations of celebrities like Charlie Sheen coming forward with their own HIV-positive status, HIV is more prominent in the media than it has been in years. That doesn’t mean the response by the community-at-large or the gay community has been all that positive to these revelations. In fact, I’ve found it to be painful at times.

I don't see the stigma regarding HIV and AIDS changing within the gay community as a whole anytime soon. The gay community lives in state of denial and instant gratification, and HIV & AIDS stands in the way of both of those states of mind and being.

This is why many would rather distance themselves from ever having to deal with it realistically by avoiding those who have it, personally, professionally, or otherwise. It seems far easier for some to shroud and protect themselves with fear and anxiety than to relate to people honestly and openly. 
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Certainly, this isn't the way everyone in the gay community lives their lives, but for many it's far easier to deny reality in order to experience the quick fix of sexual gratification. 

I’ve known far too many people that are no longer with us because they denied their own reality, their own actions, their own responsibility as the result of those actions, and all to avoid having the stigma of HIV & AIDS applied to them in the way they’ve applied it to others. 

It was far easier for them to avoid getting tested or receiving results from tests simply to perpetuate their own myth of HIV-negative status.

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The consequences seem fairly obvious, but we’re dealing with severe ignorance based in fear, anxiety, and a deep need for affection, which some connect to sex. With the advent of dating and sex apps, the availability of people for sex has never been higher.

However, with the advent of highly successful treatment of HIV, those living with the virus AND med-compliant are actually the least infectious within the community. Adding to that PrEP, a once-a-day pill, where high-risk HIV-negative populations have 100% success rate of avoiding HIV infection, the days of HIV are numbered. Yes, 100% success rate.

People that infect others with HIV are those that do not know their status. That is the fact. It is the people that are most fearful of HIV, those that are most susceptible to the stigma of HIV, that are actually most at risk for HIV infection.

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