QUESTION

I just moved here and can’t believe how juvenile guys are about HIV. I’m quite up-front about my status and I choose to let it come out in the natural course of getting to know a guy. Granted, after living through the crisis since the beginning (nearly 19 years now) I have seen a lot, and I find myself getting all pissed off at an increasingly visible trend of sexual discrimination.

What is up with so many guys advertising their HIV-negative status in discriminatory terms like “HIV Neg- UB2,” or “D&D Free for Same,” and lots of other senseless statements in the same vein? What would they do DIFFERENTLY if they DIDN’T know my status right up front? And since when does the word “CLEAN” refer to absence of HIV??? YIKES!

I see it constantly in M4M4sex.com and other hookup sites – much less so on the more networking-oriented such as Bigmuscle.com.
 
 I have the fortunate distinction of having remained perfectly healthy and have no outwardly visible characteristics of long-term survival, which seems to land me in a strange pool. I’m confident I’ll continue to live a healthy, varied and happy life – which I’d love to share with a partner.  But let me tell ya, seeing this trend has started to make me react into only trusting HIV-positive men.

 So my question is, do you see our culture moving into an “us and them” environment where the HIV poz guys are increasingly shunned by those who THINK they’re negative or are simply afraid of what they don’t know?  Are my choices narrowing? Should I simply quit looking in this city and hunt instead for prospects in more progressive cities?

—  Healthy, Happy & Horny

Dear Healthy:
I’m with you.  There is something particularly offensive about the phrase   “Disease-Free.”  The connotation is that HIV positive guys don’t have a condition or even a disease but that they are in fact, Diseased.   Which sounds remarkably like “Deceased,” doesn’t it?

Yuck.  What’s really infuriating about this revolting insensitivity is that the guys writing it have HIV positive friends.  I mean, who doesn’t know somebody who’s HIV Positive?  Hint:  If you don’t it’s only because you’re so mean and judgmental your friends are afraid to tell you.

So there they are, these online insulters– friendly, caring and loving to HIV positive acquaintances, fellow workers, friends or best buddies and then get on websites and trash the very people they’re around during the day.  Fear can twist your psyche into a pretzel.

I don’t begrudge anyone their choices.  Negative guys do and should have the choice to date or not date someone who’s positive. Myself, I think that’s pretty fucking stupid.  You’re going to give up a hottie for a night or a potential soul mate for a lifetime because he’s got an EASILY AVOIDABLE, manageable condition?  Please.  My complaint desk is open only to legitimate gripes.

Still, no matter how idiotic a choice may be, you have to respect the right of people to make them.  What you don’t have to respect is the way they’re advertising those choices.  Is it really necessary to say, “disease-free UB2” when you could so easily say “Prefer HIV-?”

If we are ever going to be a community worth living in we need to respect opinions and choices, condemn slander and divisiveness and be open to changing our minds when the facts don’t support our conclusions.  Like the fact that no harm will come to you from dating or boinking positive guys if you practice safe sex.

As for you, your mistake isn’t in what you’re observing but in what you’re concluding.  Yes, people can be shockingly cruel and insensitive but most aren’t.  I don’t think you need to move to another city; I think you need to move to another mindset.  The one that says, “fuck you” to every insulting profile and “fuck me” to those that aren’t.