Ending the stigma

These HIV-undetectable men have something important to say, and it’s worth your time

Fact: Tremendous stigma still surrounds HIV, and many gay men remain confused as to what it means to be “undetectable.”

One group aiming to change this is UK-based organization Gay Men Fighting AIDS. The organization just produced a video in the hopes of educating the public about antiretroviral theapapy, and how it makes HIV-positive people undetectable (which means there’s zero chance of getting infected by them.)

Related: 5 reasons ‘HIV undetectable’ must now mean ‘uninfectious’

Talking to Attitude, the organization’s CEO Ian Howley explains his intentions:

“We’ve seen major campaigns talking about how people living with HIV and on effective treatment cannot pass on the virus. And this has been wonderful. But many gay and bisexual men are not hearing this message, and if they are, it’s not sticking. This is why we created the video. We wanted to use real people, who are living with HIV and are undetectable, to break down step-by-step what exactly being HIV-undetectable is.”


h/t: Towleroad

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  • Rex Huskey

    where is Queerty’s coverage of George Takei’s sexual assault? what’s up with that??

    • Juanjo

      piss off troll


      George Takei never sexually-assaulted anyone. Dubunked. Manufactured lie propagated by internet trolls.

  • j_n121

    HIV negative here, don’t believe me? that’s your choice. I would genuinely like to know what this video is trying to achieve.

    Most people who give a sh*t about their sexual health will know what undetectable means, the issue is you can’t trust random people to tell you the truth about their status. There is a lot of stigma around the HIV virus itself and rightly so, we know it doesn’t kill you anymore but who wants a lifetime of medication and the awful side effects that come with it?

    Has someones HIV status ever stopped you being their ally? respecting them? KNOWING them? probably not.

    If someone doesn’t want to be with you or have sex with you because of your status then get over it! Nobody is entitled to sex..or a relationship unfortunately. The best you can do is get to know someone,build their trust then educate them..or wear a condom.

    • Juanjo

      Aren’y you a regular little bundle of sunshine? Did someone take a dump on your shoes? The issue is a simple one – there are a lot of people out there who afraid to have contact with HIV+ people because of the fact they are HIV+. Nothing in the article says anyone should go out and have unprotected sex with anyone, regardless of their status. As for liars, I am far more concerned about some lying pos telling me he is negative when he isn’t [someone like you for example] than I am a man who is willing to tell me he is positive, ion compliant on his meds and is undetectable. Since the recent changes in medical procedures under the ACA and some other laws, almost all this information is now stored electronically and is available to the patient. That means If one is so inclined, one can ask the person for documentation. I would ask, especially a bogus, anonymous troll with bad attitude like you, who claims he is hiv-.

    • Stache

      @j_n121. Does everything have to be a fight with you? I didn’t come away thinking that this was all about hiv + men complaining about hiv – men not wanting to f*ck them. I understand this was about education. Something apparently you could use some of. I get it though. More fun to complain.

    • j_n121

      Juanjo, what sort of contact are you referring? There is no need to tell someone your status for regular day to day contact and there are laws protect against workplace discrimination etc. Any idiot who believes you can catch HIV from such contact is not going to change their mind when they learn what undetectable means. So I ask again, what is this video trying to achieve? ‘

      ‘Don’t let my status stop you from having sex with me’ he says.

      I am not here to be a bundle of sunshine for anyone. This issue struck a nerve with me because ever since I became sexually active, there have men who tried to encourage me to have unprotected sex. Luckily I resisted 99% of the time but I worry about the younger, naive and timid gay men who could easily be manipulated.

      Get real for a second and imagine an excited 17-18 yo meeting a man for the first time, ending up in bed together only for the more experienced top to pressure him into unprotected sex. This so called stigma might the only thing stopping him getting ‘pozzed up’ by some sinister c*unt. At no point is he going to see medical records and the word ‘undetectable’ might just get him to relax enough.

      Like I said, nobody is entitled to sex, it’s a shame that some people completely discriminate against poz men but if they choose not to have sex with you, tough sh*t. FYI I am not a bogus troll, I created this account because I’m sick of people being shamed for worrying about their sexual health.

    • Stache

      @j_n121. Talk about missing the forest for the trees. Were talking about men that are honest about their status and you’re busy trying to demonize them as monsters trying to force you into sex. Well, I hope everyone lies to you so you can live in your ignorant bliss.

  • j_n121

    Stache, while my comments about might seem combative you will not find any other comments from me on this site so no..everything is not a fight. I’m glad you took something positive away from this video, people shouldn’t be discriminated against for their status which is why I asked if anyone had been guilty of what they’re suggesting.

    The only part of this video I could relate to..as an educated person (thanks btw) was not having sex with a poz person. I do take my health seriously so would never take someones word for it that they were neg, poz, or poz undetectable. Education is not the issue, trust is. You only have to google ‘gay stealthing’ to know there is small group of scumbags in the gay community. To all undetectable people, seriously good for you seriously. My feelings towards you are no different to anyone else.

  • j_n121

    Stache, you are missing the point.

    People do lie, about being poz, neg and undetectable so I couldn’t give a f*ck what someone tells me.

    A person’s undetectable status is only relevant to them and a possible long term partner.

    • j_n121

      Wishing that everyone lies to me is is vindictive, if one day I do trust someone enough to have unprotected sex I would hope they were honest. All I am guilty of is caring about my sexual health and not trusting what random hook ups tell me…you just seem like a sensitive prick.

  • fur_hunter

    Seeing this video made me cry, remembering all the wonderful men I have known in my life that died from AIDS. In the beginning, every week it was a huge number of guys leaving this life. After I lost a hundred friends, I stopped counting. I am so happy that finally there is Travada. I am also happy that there are meds for those with HIV to bring them to an undetectable level. It has taken a long time and a very rough road to get here. I thought I would never see the day. I can smile, knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel.

    • Stache

      Beautiful heartfelt sentiment.

    • Knight

      Fur I agree. I think Truvada has also had a bit of an amnesia side-effect, in that people wanted to forget about AIDS as quickly as possible, and Truvada allowed them to do that. I have a friend who is in his 50s and is not only very active in the gay community in the city I live in, but also HIV+ and lived through it/with it since the 1980s. While the stories he tells me are beyond belief for me, I know they happened. My only “issue” with the current Truvada crowd (and I don’t take it, FYI) is that it doesn’t come with a 60-minute documentary on what life was like before it. Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me if the HIV epidemic was just a precursor to something even more virulent to come. I’m not trying to sound pessimistic, I just know how biology works.

  • jhon_siders

    My partner is HIV and un detectable Im the top we practiced safe sex 15 years together next month

  • nmharleyrider

    Undetectable men can still pass on the HIV virus. It is not 100% clear that they cannot. They would like us to believe that so they can have more sex partners. I personally have no bias against men with HIV but they should try to be really honest about this and admit abstinence or safe sex is the only way to be 100% sure.

    • Stache

      So you’re in disagreement with the CDC huh? What is it that you specialize in btw?

    • Umoja

      The latest research involves many thousands of episodes of anal sex between HIV positive and negative partners and its data set contained no seroconversions.

    • Paco

      @Stache – It has been found that no amount of facts or evidence can sway the mind of someone with deeply held beliefs in fantasy or conspiracies. Something to do with having primitive wiring in the brain leftover from our evolution that was useful for survival at one point.

    • AdrianS

      Stache, are you a scientist? Have you performed research? Do you understand biomedical statistics? You will need many many papers and convincing a whole body of your peers. Especially in any infectious diseases and papers have their notes in conclusions making clear that the result apply to the sample they took and that only after long term project you can guarantee 100%. What nmhaleyride says it’s true. Only complete lack of sex or contact with other’s body fluids that can contain virus is 100% safe. Undetectable+condom+Prep us probably the closes you can get. Besides, have anybody forgot that HVI si not the only STI? Why all the hate for condoms in the gay community?

  • chris33133

    Props to these HIV+ and undetectable men for being up front and trying to educate us about what their status means. Having lost a brother to HIV, I wish he had lived to see these days.

    As regards the gay community’s focus on HIV prevention that developed back when HIV was a death sentence, it might be time for the health professions to shift over to the broader problem of STI prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. My own personal physician, for instance, talks to me about all STIs whenever I go in to get tested.

  • Knight

    When I came to the US and had my first HIV test, the councilor told me about a concept called “sero-sorting”, where HIV+ guys only tended to want to date/have sex with the same, since the “pool” was unfortunately very large at the time. I didn’t understand it at the time, but as I personally was/am negative and practiced safe-sex, I didn’t mind having sex with someone who was or “might” be HIV+ because I knew I wouldn’t be at risk. But then I started to realize that most HIV+ guys only wanted bareback sex; and even though I’m a total top, I wasn’t willing to do that. Who were? Yup…so, sero-sorting. Logical and understandable. But to this day, I absolutely respect any/all guys who own their HIV+ status. And if they’re willing to play safe, I’m willing to do some deep-c drilling. Simple as that.

    • Heywood Jablowme

      Wow, Knight, I totally agree with you! (And it’s me, your “mean & bitchy” nemesis!)

      I don’t know why that is with so many HIV+ guys only wanting bareback. Guys didn’t used to whine so much about condoms. But just in the past few years, suddenly there’s all this whining about condoms. It seems logical that the top gets to decide on that subject.

  • spiffy

    Regardless whether the virus is transmittable; if I wish to use condoms every time I want to have anal sex, why can’t MY choice be respected, instead that I need to be “educated” to decide otherwise?

    • Heywood Jablowme

      You hit on the central objection I have to articles like this.

      Condoms are easy enough to use. Many of us are totally used to them and never did bareback. Condoms are sanitary, plus they help protect against other STI’s than just the Big One. The safety factor still exists with condoms; it’s not negligible.

      I totally believe the CDC facts. But what’s with this mysterious crusade to pressure everyone into bareback sex? That’s quite a leap, to jump from the CDC facts all the way to Everyone Must Do Bareback Anal Sex (Even Casual Sex) Or Else You’re An Uneducated Troglodyte.

    • Me2

      Your choice can and should be respected. This video, however, seems to be for the educational purposes of those who aren’t fully committed to condoms at all times and are scared of contracting the virus. It’s lending reassurance to this specific population that unprotected sex with an undetectable partner is not life threatening. The choice is still yours to make though. But if you want some reliable science and statistics to aid you in your decision, that’s where this video is attempting to come in.

  • surreal33

    The problem with this new cavalier attitude about “undetectable” is men are liars.
    I am not willing to gamble with my life so I can politically correct. Men cannot be trusted regarding sex (gay, straight, bisexual) as it has proven men will say or do anything to bust a nut. Also, nobody has died because they were not able to have sex with HIV negative person while being positive for HIV.

    • Paco

      I guess I am lucky that my doctor’s office allows me to view my blood work from my phone. I can show sex partners my latest test results for STIs.

  • theszak

    The Strategy. BEFORE sex test TOGETHER for A VARIETY of STIs Sexually Transmitted Infections including HIV Human Immunodeficiency Virus then make an INFORMED decision, google… tested together before sex

    • surreal33


    • Kenobi40

      Hell yes! If someone wants to have sex with me, let’s go get tested together, nothing is more romantic, and ik it’s controversial but I like to stick with a person. Feel kinda bad for people who choose to sleep around, cuz no matter how safe you try to be, monogamy, trust, transparency and love between two people, that’s just always gonna be better

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