Viral Divide

Get Ready For Ten Things HIV Negative Guys Really Need Positive Guys To Hear

istock-gay-couple-69Guys living with HIV aren’t the only gay men who are having trouble being heard. When Queerty posted “Ten Things HIV Positive Guys Want Negative Guys to Know” last month, negative men responded with comments ranging from sincere empathy to complete frustration. They also wrote with suggestions by the dozen for their own list. Negative men have just as much at stake in the HIV conversation, and their views matter (check out the short video NEGATIVE, a frank look at the sex lives and attitudes of four HIV negative gay men). So, with no further ado, here’s ten things HIV negative gay men want their positive buds to know as summarized and compiled by Queerty’s Mark. S. King. Just like the previous list, it can’t possibly speak for everyone. Few opinions in our complicated community are universal. Gentleman, start your engines. In no particular order, here they are:

1. We are all living in a world with HIV. Negative gay men face HIV every time they are tested. It is an unavoidable reality for any sexually active negative guy. We have friends with HIV we care about, have seen The Normal Heart, make AIDS Walk pledges, and are waiting for a day when HIV is no longer an issue to be debated and fought over. Most of us are as mystified with the apathy that exists around HIV as anybody else. And yes, we’re fully aware that we have also taken a lot of the risks our positive friends have, but escaped unscathed, somehow.

2. Living with HIV doesn’t trump every argument. Yes, living with HIV isn’t always a picnic on Fire Island. But having the virus doesn’t automatically bring wisdom and unerring judgment, either. Nothing stops a conversation faster than “you don’t know what it’s like to have HIV.” You’re right. We don’t. But please don’t use it as a trump card to kill the dialogue. Negative guys might actually learn something if people with HIV shared their experiences honestly instead of using their status as a blunt instrument.

3. Fear isn’t always based on ignorance. Many of the fears of HIV negative men are well founded. Some of us have buried lovers and can’t bear to go through it again, despite better treatments for the virus. We might have close friends who have tested positive, and we have grieved the results and witnessed their challenges. Maybe we have been lied to by someone who couldn’t share their status honestly. We have had nearly two generations of death and mortality. Grief and fear is in our bones, and a few years of good news isn’t going to make that all disappear. And please don’t equate our fear with promoting HIV stigma. We have our reasons.

4. HIV is awful. So is homophobia and poverty. In the year 2014, we have a lot on our plates. We want gay marriage and an end to starvation and rights for transgender people, to name a few. Isn’t it a sign of progress that we can focus on a variety of issues? Devoting ourselves to other important concerns isn’t an affront to people with HIV or the epidemic, and it doesn’t mean negative guys are not concerned with our sexual health. Besides, negative guys keep hearing how healthy and happy positive guys are, and how they don’t want to be defined by their status. Then we hear that HIV is still a crisis and we must all become AIDS activists again. Yes, it is a complex issue. But the messages are so contradictory it makes negative guys wish we could all just make up our minds.

5. Negative guys are not necessarily opposed to sex with positive guys. Maybe it’s just you. You might be totally hot and HIV positive and everyone is cool with that. Except you’re an asshole. Enough said.

6. Don’t force PrEP down our throats. PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis, or taking Truvada each day to prevent HIV infection) looks like an exciting new development. Negative guys have read the news reports. We’re still considering what works best for us. Yes, there has been some tacky name-calling about negative guys who take it and if they are “Truvada Whores.” But most of us are just learning about this and have barely formed an opinion. Taking a daily medication is a big step and you will have to pardon negative men if we aren’t all rushing to the pharmacy. A lot of us have witnessed the side effects of HIV drugs with friends and don’t like what we have seen. It may take some time for more guys to warm up to the idea, and many of us may never make that choice. And that is going to have to be okay.

7. Don’t cry “HIV stigma!” at every turn. HIV stigma is real and it is damaging. We see that and know it is a problem. It’s also true that stigma has become a catch-all for every slight or insult HIV positive guys experience. We think you’re more resilient than all that. We know you don’t all cry foul constantly, but it happens enough to make it damn annoying. In a culture obsessed with age, looks, and dick size, rejection among gay men is commonplace and cruel. We all have our issues and we are all targets for ridicule about some damn thing. It isn’t a freaking contest.

8. Taking pride in remaining HIV negative is not an insult to people with HIV. A lot of us are proud of remaining negative. We’re not happy you’re dealing with HIV. But after managing every sexual choice we make and getting tested every few months, we feel entitled to feel proud of our status — just like the pride that positive guys feel in staying healthy. When we state our status in a profile, it isn’t a declaration of war. It’s a fact. And yes, we know our status is only as secure as our choices. Give us some credit for staying this way.

9. It is maddening when we know more about HIV than you do. We might be cool about your HIV status and hooking up. And then we ask about your viral load or your meds and we get a blank stare, or you shrug it off with “I’m fine, no problem, let’s do it.” Not so fast, cowboy. If you are informed about your health, share the details.

10. We have no idea how you do it. Your strength in the face of HIV is amazing. Navigating life and relationships while living with a chronic condition can’t be easy. There’s no telling how any negative guy would react to becoming infected, and we hope we never have to find out. And that’s the point, really. Positive guys know what it is like to be negative and you know what it’s like to live with HIV. We can only guess. Please, keep that in mind when you’re dealing with our sincere ignorance about what you’re going through.

And as a bonus, here’s #11. There’s so much going on so fast these days — PrEP, undetectable vial loads, better medications — that we can literally see a day coming when none of us are defined by our HIV status. We’re looking forward to it as much as you are, but we could prepare for it now by strengthening our bond. The first step is for us all to actually listen to the concerns we have. Thanks for listening to ours.

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  • Dxley

    “Just like the previous list, it can’t possibly speak for everyone.” — this is the most intelligent thing I’ve ever read on Queerty!

  • axxeda

    Intelligence on Queerty is a pretty low bar…. But you are right, a good piece.

  • Billy Budd

    I liked this. And I don’t like many many things that I read at Queerty.

  • 1898

    Regarding #6, “Don’t force PrEP down our throats”:

    Keep in mind that Truvada costs about a thousand bucks a month. Some guys can afford that but I sure as hell can’t. For me, the cost is a MUCH bigger issue than having to take a pill everyday or having to deal with the side effects. I really don’t appreciate it when poz guys say things like “we could bareback if you were on prep”… you’re basically asking me to spend $12,000 a year because you don’t like condoms. Not gonna happen unless you’re offering to pay for it…

  • Mezaien

    As a medical technician, and an HIV- I have sex with many HIV+ BUT don`t be afraid! just use CONDOMS no choice! even it doesn`t feel great on your cock.

  • masc4masc

    2, 3 and 7 should be printed and framed!

    I find the difference in tone between the two stories rather interesting. The poz to neg one was really hostile and even seemed like threats were made at times. A lot of the points here are clearly neg feelings through poz interpretation. Though I guess that could serve to give us some insight into how to reject poz guys nicely.

    Thanks Mark. =)

  • glasshole

    Wait… did Mark King actually write an article that didn’t go out of it’s way to shame HIV- men into having sex with him, bareback and taking all the precautions themselves? Did Hell Freeze over or something?

  • glasshole

    @1898: I actually once had a poz acquaintance give me shit because I said I’d never go on PrEP. He flew into a rage saying “poz guys aren’t the boogyman, you know… every time I have sex with a negative guy and he puts on a condom, it makes me FEEEL bad… and now that there’s TRuvada, we can have sex without condoms and you still won’t do that. It’s like you think I’m trying to infect you or something.”

    My answer was first “I wouldn’t have sex with you anyway” and then I followed with “I’m not your therapist and if my putting on a condom makes you feel bad, that’s not really anything to do with me, is it? You need to deal with your own issues on your own.”

  • queerT

    Not quite sure why you chose a poz guy to write this. It’s so clearly biased. I would make #1 Don’t tell me to educate myself. I’m the one that has been successful at prevention, not you.
    And as soon as anyone plays the “Truvada Whore” card, I know the article is complete b.s. That is not a thing people are called by neg guys not on PrEP. It was one HuffPo article ages ago and PrEP enthusiasts have been crying about it ever since. I’ve NEVER seen or heard it since then except from the people claiming they want to reappropriate it.

  • revjshoregoss

    im sorry but we are gay men there should be no sides just education nd honest dialogue a fluff piece or two doesn’t cut it. Some great points but talk to your partners, your friends, be honest and be educated.

  • Qjersey

    8B. Our choice to use condoms is not an insult to poz guys.

  • glasshole

    @queerT: Oh man yeah…when I say “I’m not on PrEP, I use condoms” and their immediate reaction is “YOU NEED TO EDUCATE YOURSELF!!”

    Makes me glad that they’re not ever going to get any tail that isn’t sympathy fucks.

  • Paco

    @revjshoregoss: I agree with this 100%. Judgement and shaming from both sides only feeds the stigma surrounding HIV.

  • glasshole

    And yes… “TRuvada Whore” was never a thing. That didn’t happen. Nobody has ever used that term outside a Huffington Post article. It’s just poz guys desperately trying to paint themselves as the poor, hard-done-by victims.

    the reason I don’t want to have sex with you is none of your business. You don’t have the right to have sex with whomever you want.

  • Wilberforce

    Actually, I’m done listening to HIV+ guys, after all the irresponsible junk I’ve heard over the past thirty years. Most of it is to promote risky behavior. Their new talking point is ‘slut shaming.’ Use condoms, question PrEP, or do anything else to protect yourself, and you’re slut shaming.
    Honey, I am a slut, but I’m a careful one who also cares about others. And I care strongly about prevention.
    It would be nice to reopen the conversation, but not until they start being more reasonable.

  • hotboyvb81

    queerty sucks!!!

  • TucsonNW

    @glasshole: Hate to break it to you, but that’s not true. I first heard the term on Facebook, of all places. I’ve also seen several guys on various M2M websites make reference to “Truvada Whores” and HuffPo wasn’t any part of it. That HuffPo makes mention of it a lot, sure, but I don’t think Ariana Huffington and her bloggers were bored one day around the conference room table, dreaming up buzzwords.

  • glasshole

    @Wilberforce: that’s pretty much how I feel, honestly. Listening to poz guys whine about “stigma” is annoying enough. When they whine that we’re “discriminating” against them because we don’t want to have sex with them, I feel like a sorority girl being pressured into having sex with a drunken fratboy.

  • atlas1972

    The problem with this article is that it is simply a vindication for people who fear HIV for ignorance reasons and prejudice. It justifies their stance on their very misguided fear of HIV.

    HIV positive people are no different than anyone else. The alleged “HIV positive people’s mindset” as written is false. First, all you need is to wear condom even if your partner or trick is negative. You shouldn’t feel pressured not to wear a condom even thought science has shown that if you do have an undetectable viral load, transmission is highly unlikely. Don’t like that news? Talk to the researchers. The writer is not a PHD, not even an MD, and his writing contract that of the experts
    What we have to fear are people like the writer, because probably he is trying to justify his own behavior towards others. It sounds like his is trying to clear his own conscience. Yes I’m Making assumptions but assumptions is all I see in his article and not science.

    Why is HIV Ben g highlighted when there are lots of other STDs out there that according to science, are just as or even deadlier? Because this is all about stigma and prejudice. If you want to discuss fear of diseases and sexual behavior, let’s treat the people with syphilis, gonorrhea, HPV, hepatitis, even meningitis (can kills in 24 hours) , as well. Should we ask everyone if they have any other stds and treat them the same way? I would accept this silly article as anything other than ignorance and prejudice and a lot of self hate, if it had any merits.

  • glasshole

    @atlas1972: except no. You’re an idiot. Many of us are not afraid of HIV and have no problem having sex with guys who are positive. And what are these “lots of STDs that are just as deadly or deadlier” than HIV?

    Seriously, I hope you never… EVER get laid.

  • Dawsons1kLoadWknd

    Hear, hear!!

  • jimmycurry01

    The reason I have never had sex with a poz guy is the same reason I have never gone bungee jumping. It isn’t worth the risk for me. It might look fun, it might be exciting, but the repercussions can be life altering. This isn’t about stigma, it is about risk assessment. This has little to do with a stigma against HIV+ people. It has much more to do with being responsible, thinking of the various consequences of you actions and how those consequences may continue to affect your life.

    When I was put into a situation with a very attractive positive guy, who happened to have an amazing sense of humor, and a wonderful outlook on life in general I had to ask myself the following:
    Could this go somewhere that would last a lifetime?
    If it becomes a lasting relationship, how will it affect our intimate life?
    What happens if I become careless?
    Is it worth taking the risk?
    What if this isn’t heading toward something lasting?
    How much risk am I willing to take for a few minutes of fun?

    The thing is, drugs do not work for everyone. A dose can be missed. Condoms can break. People get carried away in a moment and become careless. I have to decide what is best for me. I have to decide what risks I am willing to take. None of this has to do with a fear of someone else or a stigma against a person. It has only to do with myself, my goals. If after a rigorous risk analysis I decide that you are worth taking a chance on anyway, then good for you; if not, don’t take it personally. It really is me and not you.

  • ew

    @jimmycurry01: Agree completely Jimmy. I could not have said this any better.

  • Fang

    @jimmycurry01: I get what you’re saying and I could accept it if the risk of getting HIV from all poz guys was the same. But it’s not. It is exceedingly rare to contract HIV from poz guys with undetectable viral loads. Condoms are really effective. Truvada is more effective. You CAN have sex with poz guys without getting HIV and it’s quite common.

  • Billy Budd

    I would MAYBE fuck an HIV+ guy if and only IF I liked him VERY much and if he were extremely beautiful.

    But I would never GET FUCKED by an HIV+ guy. The risks of contagion are much higher when you are a bottom.

  • Hata H. Zappah

    @jimmycurry01: You are missing out on a world of sexual avenues that would rock your world like you could never imagine. But it’s YOUR loss.

  • Hata H. Zappah

    @Billy Budd: Trust me, there are poz guys out there who will read your comment and give serosorting serious consideration.

  • Hata H. Zappah

    @atlas1972: Dude, please just stop speaking, cuz you’re ruining the curve for all poz guys.

  • LuckyboyLA

    “Risk assessment?” @jimmycurry01 You treated a great sounding guy like a salesperson offering insurance on long term bond sales to investors. ‘Us’,’Them’ “I would MAYBE fuck a HIV pos guy if he were very beautiful..”,WTF is this? OMG I am so glad I’m older and n2 kink. Is this the mindset of the men I see on the sidewalks of Weho? You guys are kinda messed up. Do you carry and use rapid response HIV tests from CVS to use on guys B4 you sleep with them? Or take them at their word they’re neg? Did I miss the neg guys saying they always have sex top or bottom wrapped?

  • Reid Condit

    @hotboyvb81: I guess that’s good and why I keep coming back for more like right now when I could be watching porn.

  • Reid Condit

    @LuckyboyLA: Just because “risk assessment” has in recent years become a buzzword in the financial community doesn’t mean we haven’t been doing it all our lives, perhaps some more accurately than others. But risk tolerance varies both among people generally and in individuals with respect to subjects of assessment. . . I hadn’t heard about “rapid response HIV tests.” What a great idea for the severely risk-intolerant! Is such testing less expensive than Truvada?

  • curan

    A basic fact is that a sizable percentage of people with HIV love sex more than they love their health, and they are advocating that others join them. Many gain their status by being swayed (or deceived) by this position. This is unavoidable human nature, and the clear outlines of a behavior threshold can be seen.

  • seaguy

    @hotboyvb81: Then why are you on here?

  • glasshole

    @Hata H. Zappah: No. He’s not. Honestly, this idea that sex with pox guys is better is just bullshit propaganda.

    He compared it to bungie jumping. While SOME people might enjoy the thrill of it, others wouldn’t enjoy it because the only thing on their mind would be the possibility of dying. If he’s having sex with someone who’s HIV+ and all he can think of is “this could infect me with HIV” the whole time, it’s just going to be shitty sex. Trying to guilt him into it or shout him down about “being educated” doesn’t change that.

    Pressuring someone to have sex with you against their will is rape. Don’t be that guy.

  • glasshole

    @TucsonNW: I hate to break it to YOU, but yes… the guy who came up with the phrase was, in fact, writing for Huffington Post and recently wrote another article about it. But it NEVER became a common use term. Only a few Wendy Whiner types ever cared. Seriously… that was never a thing.

  • hotboyvb81

    @seaguy: they kept screwing up my posts- after the 3rd try, I posted the ‘sucks’ post and that one posted.

  • glasshole

    BTW… I’d like to add

    12) You do not have some god-given right to have sex with us or anyone. If I choose to not have sex with you for any reason… that’s the end of that discussion. I’m allowed to choose who I have sex with using any criteria. Don’t go crying to Facebook about how I “discriminated” against you by not having sex with you. You do not have the right to have sex with anyone you want. If I choose to not fuck you because you’re fat or ugly or a douchebag or annoying or have bad breath or like Madonna or vote Mitt Romney or wear ugly shoes or have HIV or are too short or have too much facial hair or have an annoying voice or wear stinky cologne… that’s my choice. I have the RIGHT to be as selective about my sex partners as I want. Acting like I’m a nazi because I won’t fuck you is not cool and it’s not helpful.

  • bearofWI

    I didn’t realize how hard it is for HIV negative people.

    Maybe Queerty can publish articles on Why not having cancer is worse than actually having it or being white is so much more of a burden. There was no need for a sound off. You are no better than the Clippers guy or WBC.

    The plain truth is 50,000 American will test positive this year.
    So don’t worry, if you are tried of listening to HIV+ people, next year you can be complaining how you are newly positive, and no one is listening to you.

    PS Most positive people got it from someone who thought or claimed they were negative. That hot negative guy that screwed you, he may have been lying or completely unaware of his status.

    I can’t wait for Queerty’s article on how being white is challenge

  • Hata H. Zappah

    @glasshole: Who said anything about pressuring. I don’t pressure negative men to have sex with me. And who said anything about sex with pos-status guys was better. I didn’t. You put those words out there. It must be hell to be you when you have sex with anyone, much less a poz-status guy, if this is the kind of distortion that takes place in your mind. Meanwhile, I’ll be having lots of worry-free sex for the rest of my life. You, I can’t say the same thing for, but you’ll probably puff yourself up in your reply just to avoid thinking about it.

  • Wilberforce

    @glasshole: Thanks you guys, including queerT. This article is important. I think it’s the first time there’s been push back against the self destructive crowd, who for thirty years have been trying to get us to throw caution to the wind. And they are still at it.

  • Hata H. Zappah


    And if I choose not to have sex with you, then I’m the one who gets to say “end of discussion” and what-not. And again, who said anyone was calling you a Nazi for choosing not to have sex. You’re just a walking sack of assumptions, hostility and social awkwardness, aren’t you? Probably haven’t had sex with anyone in a while, much less a poz-status person. I don’t think you could handle it if you tried. Just keeping it one-hunnit.

  • Wilberforce

    @curan: I could not agree more, but I couldn’t have articulated it so well. Also, it’s not PC, and I wouldn’t have the guts to say it. Great job.

  • glasshole

    @Hata H. Zappah: have you read other stuff my Mark King? Half the time he’s whining about how negative guys “discriminate” against poz guys because they won’t have sex with them. Seriously, read his other stuff.

  • glasshole

    @Hata H. Zappah: well, just about every other article about poz/neg sex (including the one this is an answer to) talks about “discrimination” when neg guys won’t have sex with poz guys. Often that evolves to whining about “bullies” and “bigots” and “poz hate” when it’s really just guys deciding which risks are worth taking and which aren’t.

    As far as having sex goes, I’ve been with the same man for years and we’re monogamous so while I have plenty of sex, it’s never with a poz guy. But my previous boyfriend (in the late 90s when there was no PrEP) was poz and it was never an issue for me. I know how to protect myself. Clearly.

  • glasshole

    @Hata H. Zappah: the comment that most rings with me from the other article is “rejecting people based on their status can be more discriminatory than practical. Besides, labeling someone as damaged goods or unworthy sucks, and if you’ve been on the receiving end of this practice you know how demoralizing it can be.”

    Which means that anyone who doesn’t just fall into bed with a pox guy is “discriminating” against him and the end result is the pos guy “feels bad” about himself. Which is just projecting your own issues onto other people. I’m average-looking at best and over 40. That means that the hot 22 year-old jocks don’t want to have sex with me. But I don’t whine about discrimination or how “demoralizing” it is. Because it’s just life. I don’t get to fuck everyone I want to fuck.

  • Hata H. Zappah

    @glasshole: First of all, what’s a “pox” guy? A little Freudian slip there, my friend? That said, since you want me to spell it out in so many words, then yes, IF YOU REFUSE TO HAVE SEX WITH SOMEONE WHOSE HIV STATUS IS POSITIVE, THEN YOU ARE DISCRIMINATING AGAINST THAT PERSON. Do I really care if people do that? No, because they’re the one who is losing out. Do I let you have sex without a condom when you’re with me and your status is negative? No. But yes and let me repeat, you ARE discriminating if you don’t have sex with someone because of their HIV status.

  • Hata H. Zappah

    @Wilberforce: The so-called “self-destructive crowd” has a much bigger pool in 2014 to choose from than you realize. If you say no, they just move on to the next person. Thus, you value yourself far too much as a commodity for your own good. Relax.

  • Random

    @curan: What evidence do you have to support your claim that a ‘sizeable percentage of people with HIV love sex more than their health’? You’re talking in terms of % so you must be aware of research that shows *exactly* what percentage this ‘basic fact’ is. Please post your source(s) so that we can see how accurate/credible your claims are.

    If you are unable to do so then it can be assumed that your assertion is based on nothing but anecdotal evidence which, from a scientific point of view has little, if any, value.

  • EdgarCarpenter

    @jimmycurry01 Most cases, by far, of HIV infection happen when negative men have sex with other men they think are negative. The other man may also think he’s negative, but if he’s having unprotected sex with strangers, there’s a good chance he’s positive but doesn’t know it.

    When you get HIV, you are highly contagious in the first stages of the infection. If you’ve had unprotected sex with a man who said he was negative but was not, and he recently got HIV, he will infect you because he’s actively shedding lots of the virus all the time. And then you will get into the same highly infectious state and infect other people until you get a positive HIV test and start acting more responsibly.

    I’ve seen men get HIV from “negative” men again and again over the years. It sometimes happened in groups of men who thought they only had unprotected sex with the safe men in the group – and then one of them had unprotected sex outside the group with someone else he mistakenly thought was “safe” and passed HIV to all of them. And it’s happened (lots of times) to men who thought they were in a monogamous relationship, and then their husband brought HIV home from a down-low fuck stop on the way home from work. And it’s happened (also a lot) from men trusting strangers to know their own HIV status and be honest about it – they don’t always know they’ve gotten infected, and they don’t always tell the truth if they do know.

    So what is the lesson of decades of shared experience by millions of gay men? Assume that anyone you have sex with could either have HIV or acquire it while you’re regular fuck partners. Wear a condom and use gloves, or take truvada. Always.

    Use protection and then it’s just not a problem, and you can fuck your brains out happily for decades. Don’t use protection and have sex with strangers who think they’re negative – or ignore the signs that your monogamous husband may not be – and eventually you’ll get HIV from one of them.

    It happens every day.

  • Hata H. Zappah

    @Random: Sorry to inform you, Random, but the concept of empirical evidence is and perhaps always will be an elusive concept…in other words, they couldn’t back up their claims to save their lives (literally, so it seems.)

  • Random

    @Hata H. Zappah: Well, yes, that’s pretty much what I figured but it would be amusing for the person to come back here and admit he’s got no credible data source and is just talking out of his ass!

  • hex0

    Not all HIV positive guys are “poz pig” pnp sluts, yes they exist and I would stay far away from them. I don’t understand the disgust towards HIV positive men in the gay community, nobody is saying you have to have sex with them. If I met a great guy who was HIV positive who I fell for I would not reject them, condoms and drugs can greatly reduce the risk of contracting.

  • Hata H. Zappah

    @EdgarCarpenter: “So what is the lesson of decades of shared experience by millions of gay men? Assume that anyone you have sex with could either have HIV or acquire it while you’re regular fuck partners. Wear a condom and use gloves, or take truvada. Always.”

    This comment is now like GOLD to me. Thank you for saying it. I know it’s always a challenge for the princess contingent in our comment to really and truly realize that they can’t assume they are safe at all. These are the same people who think themselves entitled to just get their drunk on every week at the bars in the Castro and don’t have to watch their backs when they leave. WHAT?!?! You mean there’s no one behind my princess ass throwing petals on the ground after every step I take?

  • EdgarCarpenter

    @hexO – From what I have seen over the years, most or all of the anti-poz attitude (from men who are both negative and positive) comes from gay men who were brought up to think that sex is dirty, and who haven’t gotten over that.

    They tend to use “slut” and “whore” to describe themselves or other men in sexual contexts – and some of them (a lot of them) don’t get seriously turned on by sex unless they can frame it as “nasty” in their own minds. They see STIs as confirmation that sex is dirty, and fear STIs for convoluted reasons that don’t usually have a lot to do with the actual diseases. Their reaction to HIV positive men is a reflection of their own conflicts about sex.

    By contrast, men who think that sex is good clean fun (even when it’s messy or smelly) tend to take a practical attitude about HIV – the virus is something to avoid, but the men who’ve got HIV are often great guys who are lots of fun, in and out of sexual contexts; using protection keeps the HIV out and lets everyone have lots of good sex together, then go out for a snack.

  • topshelf


    Plus, Truvada isn’t a sure thing. Research that I’ve seen has indicated that it can reduce the chances of infection by up to 90%. If that’s the absolute maximum benefit, then I don’t think that’s very good. Especially considering the cost and the side effects.

  • glasshole

    @Hata H. Zappah: A “pox” guy is “poz” being auto-corrected. If you can’t figure that out, you’re not really bright enough for me to bother with anymore. thanks.

  • glasshole

    And yes…. if I was to refuse to have sex with someone based simply on their HIV status… that is discriminating. Just like how I only have sex with guys I find sexually attractive. I discriminate against ugly people. If this bothers you, I’m afraid you’ll just have to get over it or become better looking.

  • Dave4445

    If negative guys would just stop referring to themselves as ‘clean’ and stop categorizing HIV+ people as ‘diseased’ and putting us in the same category as drug addicts, I’d be happy. Yes, we’re diseased, but it’s not like we’re walking around with untreated syphilis. Just say ‘HIV-, seek same’ or something, I’ll leave you alone, I promise. Since the majority in my town have this lack of awareness, I’ve developed some prejudices, I will try to do better.

  • claven

    The name fits Glasshole.

  • Dave4445

    ..I do have issue with the need to express pride in a negative status, I don’t see how this is the same as saying ‘undetectable’ or whatever. It can easily come across as insinuating that positive people have done something wrong or irresponsible . It can bring up all kinds of negativity. In many cases it’s a matter of luck and/or preference of position. This might be communicated in a non-judgmental way but I’m not sure how.

    I didn’t participate in the earlier discussion, I have no problem with someone stating their status of course but voicing it as some kind of accomplishment can come off as insulting to positive people.

  • 1898

    @Dave4445: I agree. I’m HIV- but I never refer to myself as “clean” in that context… and it really bothers me when I see guys writing things in their profiles like “I’m clean, UB2” etc. HIV+ guys are no less clean than anyone else. It would be like calling oneself “clean” because you’re not diabetic or don’t have a cold. Lame.

  • glasshole

    @claven: So I should have sex with Ugly guys so they don’t feel bad and “discriminated against?”

    I DO have sex with HIV+ guys. But only if I want to. And if I choose not to… that’s also my choice. Do you not agree?

  • vive

    @1898, @topshelf, most health insurance in the US will cover PrEP, and the company has a program to reduce any copay one might have, so the complaint about cost is mostly based on ignorance. I pay $10 a month for it after insurance and copay assistance. My insurance approved it no questions asked.

    @topshelf, the protection figure is more than 99% for guys who take the PrEP drug every day as indicated by bloodwork. In fact, I think the statement was even stronger in that actually NOBODY on PrEP who maintained sufficient blood levels of Truvada in the trials (indicating they didn’t skip doses) ever became infected.

    Not everyone on PrEP barebacks. I decided to go on it after I had needed PEP (that was post-exposure prophylaxis for a month, not PrEP) the third time because of accidents (things like broken condoms, or realizing I had had a cut in my mouth after oral sex). And those were only the times I realized there might have been a danger. By the way, you know condoms are less than 90% effective, don’t you?

  • vive

    @glasshole,@Wilberforce, @jimmycurry, if you have had much sex, you have statistically already had sex with poz guys who thought they were negative. And your chances of getting HIV from these “negative” guys were much larger than your chances of getting it from a poz guy on HAART. But if you want to continue living in your serosorted fantasyland we won’t stop you.

    Also, I find it hard to believe poz guys are giving you guys shit for wanting to use condoms. I mean come on, I think you are just saying that to play victim now.

    The “Truvada whore” thing, by the way, was not a case of poz guys playing victim, it was what some “negative” guys (or poz guys who think they are negative) are calling those of us negative guys who are on PrEP – in other words it was neg guys on PrEP being victimized and had nothing to do with poz guys). Even if they may not be using those exact words, it is the gist of much of the rhetoric (including yours) against Truvada – namely you are saying no responsible person could possibly get on PrEP, which is of course bull.

  • claven

    It went right over your head Glasshole., but I am not surprised. Reading your posts, your screen name is fitting.

  • thisismylife247

    There seems to be a lot of hate on this post. Hard to believe we are all gay men facing the same challenges.
    I can only speak for my own experiences being HIV+
    Last summer I posted a profile on a dating site. Over the course of the summer (June-Sept) I had 11 dates, 7 of which I had second dates with, out of that 4 had 3+ dates.
    There was no shortage of intimacy, “heavy make out” sessions were not a problem on either side. However, I always disclose my status before having sex. Upon finding out my status all four guys said they wanted to be “friends” and I never heard from them again.

    Do I feel discriminated against? Yes. Am I angry? No. I understand it’s complicated and challenging for a negative person to be intimate with someone who is HIV+ and it takes a person who is secure, confident and courageous to face these challenges. Unfortunately the guys I met were not. It makes me ask the question: if you were constantly rejected when you disclosed your status, how long would it be before you stopped disclosing?

  • ISpeakOnlyTruth

    Thisismylife247, as an HIV- person, I appreciate what you have to say, and will tell you it works the same both ways.

    I always appreciate the person telling me their status up front. To be honest, these days, I have to think everybody is +, because there are a lot of liars out there in fear of being rejected, or, they just don’t care and that’s the reality of it.

    With that said, when a + person find out I am -, 9 times out of 10, it doesn’t even get to a date because the + person doesn’t want to carry the burden if I myself were to become + … even though they know they aren’t the only + person I’ve ever gone out with. I make it very clear their status doesn’t take away from me liking them or possibly going further. It doesn’t matter.

    At this point of my life (Mid 50’s), I don’t let it get to me like it used to. People have to do what is best for them, even if there is some ignorance involved. But I can only account for what happens with me. I will always treat someone else like a human being and ask them out no matter what their status. I can’t do any more. I’m not going to be able to change the world.

  • Evilklown13

    I’m not sure the purpose of this article. It doesn’t get you anywhere, except one side yelling at the other. Granted it sounds like a real attempt by Queerty to have an adult conversation, but it sounds like the Tea Party and Republicans going at it. Last article had one comment which really annoyed the fuck out of me; “Being positive is a choice” the DUMBASS wrote. I grew up in the 80’s when every gay man was stigmatized because of AIDS. The GAY communities pulled together and taught “everyone” a lesson in real humanity. Obviously people read your column, the good and the bad ones. It may be too much for you to handle but you have a responsibility to remind your readers what it was like before antiretroviral drugs. When being HIV “was” a death sentence. Remind them that we are all in this together. Not one against another. For once forget the vanity and pretentiousness of your usual articles and “Do the responsible thing.”

  • QNetter

    @queerT: Are you really so stupid as to assume ANYONE claims that the actual phrase “Truvada whore” was a widespread insult? nobody ever did except for people like you who set it up as a straw man to knock down. David Duran created it for the title of his article. Everyone knows that. Nobody denies it. What is at issue is not the phrase but the PHENOMENON of slut-shaming PrEP-users and rejecting the supporting science.

  • Dave4445


    You’re using the scenario of assessing risk in a longterm commitment. As a positive person, I have done the same and I’d much prefer to find a positive partner.

    I don’t think that even begins to address the issue. If you’re not comfortable sleeping with someone you know is positive, that’s cool but I don’t think it’s about risk assessment. If you only date people interested in a longterm, monogomous relationship, then maybe it is about risk assessment but that’s a very rare thing.

    Most negative people I’ve come across who are sexually active and not in a committed, monogomous relationship seem to be acting in a delusional way. There are positive people out there who lie, people are barebacking like crazy and not getting tested more than once a year. Unless a person believes they can get HIV from oral sex or kissing, which seems to be the case where I live, all a person has to do is wear a condom for intercourse or simply not have intercourse. It’s actually very difficult to get infected with HIV.

    It’s delusional to not approach every hookup or casual date as if they’re HIV+, that is the only true way to assess risk. All else is confusion and fear. Again, I have no problem if a person is uncomfortable with knowing a positive status, but it’s difficult for me to see anything but fear and ignorance when I know they’re jumping in bed unhibited with the next stranger who says they’re negative.

  • Stache99

    @curan: Really? Can you please cite your sources or did you just pull that out of your ass?

  • Lvng1tor

    I could tear this apart but I’m gonna just prefer to think that it came from a good and honest place (some of it ignorant and bit insulting but not really harmful or meant) and leave it at that. I can say this list will have some on each side (-/+) who fit so no arguing from me…

    The one that hit home the most is “you don’t know what it’s like to live with HIV”

    You’re right…you don’t. Which is why you wouldn’t be able to see why some of these are ignorant and offensive…remember we were neg once too! We do know your side of the story/.

    Honestly,I hope one day you’ll have a better understanding as to why I feel this way, but I pray it’s not from first hand experience. Just life’s journey.

    Stay safe and healthy to all my brothers and sisters. If you are neg protect yourself and stay that way…If you are poz, like me, take your meds, eat well, dance your M F’n ass off every chance you get and stay healthy!

  • Hata H. Zappah

    @glasshole: @glasshole: You view living things as being ugly, so you’ll just never be on my level. Have fun in your misery.

  • yaletownman

    There is nothing sexy about living ones life as a victim and there is nothing sexy about being a victim. Those who take responsibility for their lives, their choices, etc. are hot. Doesn’t matter if they are HIV or not. I had a very good friend in the 90’s who was HIV positive. She contracted the disease from her boyfriend who was cheating on her with both men and women. She was in her early 20’s and in college. She had every reason, every excuse to live her life in a state of self pity. She had every reason to hate the world. Contracting the virus through someone she loved and trusted afforded her entry into the card carrying victim club but she turned down her membership. She took what life handed her and she became an educator for the disease. She spoke to everyone who would listen and to this day everyone who had the pleasure of experiencing her feels their heart open at he mere mention of her name. She could melt your heart and have you in the palm of her hand the moment she spoke. She chose love and she chose hope when their was little being offered to her in the world. Unfortunately she didn’t last long. It was the 90’s and she came down with full blown AIDs and passed away. but during the few years she had she did more living than most people do in 70. She was beautiful, proud, adorable, loving and she overcame a world lacking in compassion by showing the world that no matter what cards life deals you, no matter how little time you have left, it’s not to late to be a gift to the world. She left this world being loved at a level most of us can only dream of. Don’t let being Positive turn you into a victim (and don’t mistake being a perpetrator/asshole as not being a victim because it’s the same thing) let it turn you into all that you are. If you do, you’ll never have a problem getting laid because being all that you are is the sexiest state you’ll ever know.

  • Dave4445


    You haven’t given any examples of HIV+ victimhood so it’s difficult to know what you’re talking about. Your friend sounds like an inspiration, heterosexual people in this country have an exceptionally difficult road to travel.

    I was positive all through the 90s and living on the West coast. I now live in the Midwest and it’s 2014. It is a totally different universe for me today and I’m having a very difficult time navigating it. The ostracism, fear, anger, and ignorance directed towards HIV+ people within the LGBT community is off the charts. This doesn’t make me a victim, it’s simply what I’m living with. I have as much emotional detachment as possible and try my best not to take it personally.

    Something has changed and something is very wrong. We do need to have this conversation and it’s a difficult one to have. People are still getting infected because of this toxic atmosphere. This insistence on categorizing people as negative and positive as if there are two communities. I absolutely believe in revealing status and communicating but too many negative men, especially young ones, are fooling themselves into thinking they’re safe. This doesn’t mean I think they should be comfortable sleeping with me, but their fear does play a role and it’s part of the conversation.

  • BLKSeaGoatDC

    This COULD have been a great post but some of the 10 things are either, very rudimentary or just plain damn ignorant.

    For instance, unless you’re a medical professional, why do you need to know the details of a HIV positive person’s lab values? What will it do for the random sex you planned to have anyway? Are you going to be able to offer meaningful medical advice and treatment planning?

    Generally people who are HIV positive care about poverty, homophobia AND HIV stigma… at least those of us gay men who aren’t white do because we’re impacted by both, coupled with racism (I noticed how racism wasn’t included – at all).

    Number 10 contradicts number 7; you cannot acknowledge stigma in number 10 and be dismissive of it in number 7. I especially love how there’s no rational argument for crying stigma and how it’s equated to dealing with having a small penis. HILARIOUS!

    Number 3 attempts to conflate fear with grief; fear is ALWAYS based on ignorance.

    I believe that PrEP is an exciting development, but I am more concerned about actual POSITIVE people who still haven’t been able to migrate into Medicaid programs and come off of ADAP waiting lists. This is a very real problem in states whose Governors have rejected the Medicaid expansion through the ACA.

    I’m sure that HIV negative men have better, more meaningful things to say. Highlight them.

  • Random

    One thing that has changed is the prevalence and use of the internet for meeting people. I think this gives people a false sense of security since they assume that it will be on someone’s profile. Also, it makes people’s preferences/prejudices – depending on your view – explicit, with all this talk of being ‘clean’ etc.

    There’s a strong sense that gay men need to see people with HIV as being fundamentally different, as this makes the risk seem more distant (‘I’m not a slut like THOSE people with HIV so I’ll be fine’). Again, the language used on profiles bears testimony this with things like ‘I’m negative and plan on staying that way’ being frequently used, as if people with HIV actively WANTED to become positive.

    Ultimately, as much as some would like to kid themselves otherwise, whatever our status, we’re all the same. HIV is a part of all our lives and the only way to be 100% certain of avoiding it is to not have any sex at all.

  • 1898

    @vive: “most health insurance in the US will cover PrEP, and the company has a program to reduce any copay one might have, so the complaint about cost is mostly based on ignorance. I pay $10 a month for it after insurance and copay assistance. My insurance approved it no questions asked.”

    That’s awesome. I’m glad you’re able to get it and that you can do so affordably.

    Unfortunately, not everyone has health insurance, despite the many improvements that the ACA has ushered in. There are a lot of people who don’t make enough money to be able to afford health insurance, but they make too much money to qualify for Medicaid or prescription assistance programs (or wouldn’t qualify for those programs anyway because they’re young, employed, not a single mother, etc). It also varies greatly from state to state. Some states don’t allow you to buy health insurance across state lines, so you’re limited to one or two insurance companies that do business in your state, and the premiums are often sky-high with massive deductibles.

    Maybe someday we’ll have true universal single-payer healthcare for all, but until then, it continues to be a very costly burden for many people.

  • 1898

    @vive: “Also, I find it hard to believe poz guys are giving you guys shit for wanting to use condoms. I mean come on, I think you are just saying that to play victim now.”

    I was in a longterm, committed, loving relationship with a poz guy. He grudgingly allowed me to use condoms, but often complained about them (that he couldn’t “feel anything,” that they made him feel less “connected” to me, etc). You don’t have to believe that if you don’t want to, but it’s the truth and I have no reason to make up stories. I was merely sharing a personal experience and was in no way “playing victim.”

  • Hata H. Zappah

    @queerT: You have assumptions. I hope you don’t learn that they’re wrong the hard way. You are misinformed about the “Truvada Whore” concept. I hope you will educate yourself. You have issues. I hope you are working them out. Like with a therapist more than once a week.

  • Merv

    Some people acquired HIV despite taking all reasonable precautions to avoid it. But, let’s be honest with ourselves. The vast majority acquired the virus because they, at least occasionally, ignored the guidelines. Either they engaged in one or many instances of bareback sex, or they always used condoms but were highly promiscuous and suffered the consequences of an inevitable condom break. Frankly, I resent these people. Few individuals in our community should have contracted HIV past 1982 or so. But we’re thirty years later and still dealing with the epidemic because of irresponsible behavior. I liken the it to pissing in a pool. If only one or two people piss in the pool nobody will notice. But lots of people are pissing in the pool, and it’s turned yellow and stinks. A lot of of us made lots of sacrifices to stay safe. Sacrifices which, if followed by everyone, would have had us today enjoying a community almost free of the disease. But instead, we’ve barely progressed at all, and only with the help of insanely expensive drugs. I don’t think a little stigma is entirely unwarranted.

  • life123

    Next time sex is in the equation of a new love/relationship, a random hook-up, or a friend with benefits arrangement if this person asks you to have unprotected sex ask yourself the following questions:

    1) Who is asking me to have unprotected sex?
    2) It is worth it to compromise my values especially in regards to sex?
    3) Am I ready to be confronted with the news of contracting a sexually transmitted disease?

    Sex is messy. Hormones/lust can cloud our judgment when in the heat of passion. As a newly diagnosed man, I know what I did wrong. Having been sexually active for roughly twenty years, I must have been doing something right until now. I slipped. Being honest with oneself is a good start to become educated about what affects one’s livelihood. HIV is a reality. Learning from each other’s experiences can, hopefully, start an honest dialogue.

  • glasshole

    @vive: Who’s living in a sero-sorted fantasy land? My last Boyfriend was HIV+ and I never ask anyone what their status is because poz guys will generally tell you the truth, negative guys will tell you the truth and guys who don’t know will tell you they’re negative when they’re not.

    That puts 100% of the decision in my court because my own health is my own responsibility. I choose to use condoms because they’ve always protected me before. I don’t want to find out that I got an expired batch of Truvada or that it was mislabeled and I was taking birth control pills. I don’t want to trust a pill and put that control in someone else’s hands.

    However.. if I choose to not have sex with someone for any reason… including that they’re poz (which hasn’t ever happened by the way), that’s my right. That’s what I’m saying. I’m under no delusion that I’ve never had sex with an HIV+ man, but I do know that I’ve always taken the initiative to choose my own mode of protection and stuck with it.

    I’m sorry if you think that makes me a bad person.

  • skyman75

    This is one of the most thoughtful, perceptive and interesting articles on HIV status & our social/sexual relationships I’ve ever read. Mark, thanks so much.

  • roby43229

    I think that this is one of the better articles I have read concerning HIV. I am negative and regularly checked, not that it really matters that much. But, the one glaring thing missing from this article is HIV Poz people being tested and listed as “UNDETECTABLE” and thinking that it a license to solicit negative people making it sound as if they are cured and that there is nothing to fear!

    NEWS FLASH: You are still POZ and yes, your TCell count is low, but that is only a confirmation of your blood and not your other bodily fluids, namely semen & sperm. Yes, one can still infect someone being an Undetectable! In addition, a HIV Poz person can be reinfected by another poz person.

    I know that I will be attacked by those of you who are HIV+, and I hope and pray that one day there is a cure, but being Undetectable is not a cure! Nothing prevents HIV other than Safe Sex! Yes, condoms do break and quite frequently!

  • twindragon

    I have had several experiences with HIV positive men some good and some did not end so well and we both walk away hurt.
    My very first BF told me he was positive the day we broke up. I cried for him and said I would have my many angels watch over him. I lost my mom to lung cancer at age 16 and my gay uncle to Aids a few years later neither is something I would wish on someone else.
    I have had many partners lie and some be upfront. I have had sex with undetectable and some positive. For some of those men when I have been asked to hookup and wanted to knowing they are positive I ask “WOULD YOU WANT THE SAME FOR ME ?” Not one has ever even answered. So I ask All the knowingly positive men that are so horny they just can’t JO or wait for the right one at the right moment WOULD YOU WISH WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU TO HAPPEN TO ANY OF YOUR FRIENDS ? This is not to be mean just a hope that in some cases not all we stop knowingly putting others at risk. I am saddened every time I see a 20 YO on grindr or another site that is already Positve don’t we already know better ?

  • Random

    @roby43229: If someone identifies themselves as ‘undetectable’ then you, and anyone else, have the option to go no further if it’s something you don’t feel comfortable with. I can’t see what the issue is here other than a case of misplaced anger.

    In reality, you have far more to fear from guys who erroneously think they are negative and you’d be far better served encouraging people to get tested for HIV as often as you do, as well as continuing to use condoms as a matter of course.

  • Dave4445


    I’m HIV+ and I’ve dated many negative men, I have reason to believe I’ve never infected anyone and we had very intimate, satisfying sex. No, I don’t wish the same for you but if you asked me that question, I wouldn’t respond either, I’d just block you and move on.

    • Random

      The criminalisation of HIV across the world is utterly shameful and needs to end immediately and all those who have been convicted under such laws should have the ‘crime’ erased from their records.

  • Dave4445


    I don’t feel a need to attack you but there are many negative men who don’t have an issue with having safe sex with positive men. Most that I’ve met have had longterm relationships and they’ve developed some trust and comfort with safe sex, they know their boundaries and they’re not afraid of me. We’re not online trying to infect negative people, we’re looking for dates and hookups like everyone else. If it makes you uncomfortable, just ignore us.

  • vive

    @Dave4445, “something has changed and something is very wrong.”

    I agree and I think there are a number of causes. Among these, the gay mainstream movement turning away from promoting progressive causes including HIV advocaty, healthcare provision, promotion of inclusion and diversity, and outreach to disadvantaged sectors of the community, in favor of conservative assimilationist causes including glorification of participation in the military and making heroes out of millionairesses wanting to get out of paying estate taxes. Also, the internet and smartphone have caused fragmentation of a community that no longer congregates in common real world venues where people could feel some sense of belonging and could be targeted for outreach and education. The internet also amplifies the voices of the most extreme.

  • vive

    @1898, yes, access to heath care is an ongoing problem for gay people both negative and positive, and mainstream gay organizations are mostly ignoring this life or death issue in favor of causes appealing to the upper middle class. Not that these causes don’t have merit, but diverting all effort into things like marriage at the expense of helping the people who are still dying is frankly unconscionable. For example, it has been up to the CDC and FDA to promote things like rapid home testing and PrEP, things that the HRC (for example) refuses to touch with a ten foot pole lest it sully their brand. In fact I don’t recall the HRC even being able to bring themselves to mention anything regarding health care access or the continuing AIDS death toll in recent memory, at leadt not in any reportage I have seen. Obviously they know the kind or people who donate to them don’t want to be reminded that these problems even still exist.

  • vive

    @1898, your ex sounds like a real piece of work, by the way. I can understand disliking condoms (I do also for the same reasons) but that is no excuse.

  • Dave4445


    I agree, a truly frightening trend is the criminalization of HIV+ people in almost every state. I have a very strong suspicion that most LGBT people don’t disagree with these laws that are making sex criminals out of people for not even engaging in risky behavior, for not even lying about their status. I have heard of cases of infection that I believe were criminal but some of the cases these days don’t even come close in my opinion. In the 1980s and well into the 90s, there would have been an outcry from the LGBT press.

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