Have you heard the news? A man from England has allegedly become the second person to be healed from HIV. I am sorry, but I got this really bad feeling in my stomach when it comes to this subject.
When I open any of the popular dating apps on my phone to check out the local guys in the different cities I visit, it’s difficult to get away from the following fields:
When I take a closer look at the many profiles, I notice a very homogenic picture: Everyone is either negative or negative and on PrEP. Then you have those who don’t want to say anything or just prefer “safe” sex.
Here’s what bugs me about it:
In Europe and Germany where I come from safe sex is promoted in 3 different ways: Condoms, PrEP and treatment as prevention. So how come everyone I chat with only considers condoms to be “safe sex practise”?
A little experiment
Why is PrEP not considered safe? And why is it that people out there don’t know anything about the HIV treatment?
So, let’s do a little experiment. Let’s set the filters of these apps to “Treatment” and “Poz” (for HIV positive) and see what happens.
As you know we can adjust the settings to see how far away from us the guys are. Like when I am at the huge Frankfurt international airport. A mix of European guys and visitors pops up on the screen.
The funny thing is that the guys like “XL4Rawonly” and “2 for 1 raw”, who openly advertise that they are HIV positive are 57 kilometres away. Next to a guy that inform us that he is “Undetectable”.
What is the deal here? Should I really believe there are no HIV positive guys in Frankfurt area? Are they not on any dating apps? Our little experiment shows us one thing: Apparently HIV positive people are hiding in 2019. Why is it so?
Guys were shaming my status
Where are the guys? Who do I turn to and a date if I was positive? Do I have to go to meetings at the local testing centres and bars? Where would I find someone?
Another experiment: For a change I set my HIV status to “positive” when I was on travel. The picture changes dramatically within the community: I got a lot of responses from people without status “HIV positive” about their HIV status and even messages from negative guys shaming me for my status!
So, I wonder: Is that cool? Not informing about your HIV status is fine, I guess. It encourages discussion but doesn’t prevent you from questions like “Are you clean?” And what the hell does clean mean?
Is being positive still considered being impure and dirty? Am I still being punished for my sexual behaviour if I catch this disease or infection?
Seriously, where does all of that nonsense come from? Why do people act like this?
All these questions makes me sad, and after speaking with people at the testing centres in Mainz I am shocked and confused: Most guys that come here and turn out to be tested positive HIV have been living in monogamous relationships, the doc says. So, why are we still with the stigma that catching HIV is somewhat connected to being dirty, filthy and promiscuous? It’s just not true!
Honesty is not appreciated
Snooping around in the online profiles, deliberately changing my statuses and conditions I quickly found out that many guys were willing to have sex without a condom when I told them I was on PrEP. When they see my (fake) HIV positive status they avoided any sexual contact with me even though I ensured them I am undetectable.
Being honest about a disease that is totally under control made me an outsider but being one of the responsible guys that takes PrEP (which is merely the same as being on HIV medication) they open up their doors and asses for me. As Alanis Morisette says: Isn’t it ironic?
However, I STILL haven’t found what I was looking for: Other HIV positive guys in my area.
Given the distance on my app those I see being in Frankfurt are profiles in other cities. May I assume it is because they live in bigger cities with a higher population of queer people like Cologne? Does Frankfurt have a very small LGBT community? Of course not.
Where is everyone hiding?
So where are these people that lie about or hide their HIV statuses?
To be honest: When it comes to having random sex, I would rather have it with a PrEPster guy or someone “undetectable”. These guys seem to be more talkative and open about their behaviour, the visits to the doctor and even preferences in bed.
Does it bother me if someone lies to me about their status? Since I haven’t found out yet – no. I’d rather sleep with a liar who is trying to keep up his reputation and façade than a guy judging others for their status or sexual behaviour. My well-being and safety is after all my own responsibility.
The important message here is: Stop shaming people for STI’s and HIV. Be open to be educated or even do it yourself. 12000 people in Germany alone don’t know that they are HIV positive HIV. Get tested regularly, even if you are in a relationship!
Facts: PrEP means Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, and it’s the use of anti-HIV medications to keep HIV negative people from becoming infected. PrEP is approved by the health authorities in most countries and has been shown to be safe and effective at preventing HIV infection.