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All of them have mentioned negative reactions to disclosure - either online or in real life.
“Thankfully, we now live in the very promising era of effective HIV treatment that mean that a positive person’s life expectancy is largely the same as that of a negative individual.
Yet social stigma poses so many problems for the newly-diagnosed individual, who may fear rejection from others, the inability to ever have a 'normal' relationship, and who may continually question his own self-worth as he is made to feel inferior to HIV-negative people.” I’ve interviewed many guys living with HIV now.
“An HIV diagnosis can affect the individual’s relationship with his community in so many ways,” says Professor Rusi Jaspal, Chair in Psychology & Sexual Health at De Montfort University.
“Just one negative reaction towards one’s positive serostatus can be immensely challenging to one’s sense of self - it can compromise one’s sense of self-worth and self-esteem, and as well as one’s sense of belonging, acceptance and inclusion.
Clearly what that boogie man needed was a group of fabulous activists from Act Up London to storm in, grab it by its ass and shove it into a light entertainment format that’s gonna vajazzle the stigma right out of its shadow. It’s a theatre show designed to share stories of love, dating and relationships with HIV.
We want to raise awareness and celebrate the fabulous fierceness of our community, both positive and negative.
He’d never once mentioned his status, and I’d assumed he was negative. Huddled together in the corner of a shrieking pub full of whiskey-soaked drag queens, he confided in me a status he’d told no one. He’d read an article I’d written online and had assumed I was positive too.
I kissed him and grabbed his hand, and stole him away from the drag queens to go home and have him to myself.
Like those guys who repress their sexuality for the ‘straight’ life of wife, kids and IKEA flat-packs, it can’t be healthy to imprison such a storm.
“Closely-imprisoned forces render and destroy”, is the quote from Charles Dickens I learnt in sixth form. Unfortunately, there are powerful reasons why a guy might keep his diagnosis private.
I sometimes think about him and hope he’s doing okay.