Michael Henry (inset) and friends in his latest video
Michael Henry (inset) and friends in his latest video (YouTube)

Michael Henry is known for his funny, short videos on YouTube. However, his latest takes a look at a more serious topic. It’s earning praise online, but also prompting debate.

In short, who’s business is it to disclose someone’s HIV status?

In the video, Michael attends a pool party with some friends. He hits it off with a guy. Two other friends notice that Michael and the fella are getting along. One of them takes it upon himself to have a quiet word with Michael and caution him he’s about to go home with someone who has HIV.

Michael is unimpressed by his friend’s words, and suggests his friend is being “poz-phobic” by sharing someone else’s HIV status without their permission. Michael’s upset his friend might think he doesn’t know how to “handle” himself in any given sexual situation.

“Don’t ever reveal his status or anybody else’s status with anybody ever,” says Michael. “That is none of your business.”

His friend counters, “I’m confused. If I were in your shoes I would want to know.”

“Well that’s you,” replies Michael. “And as you say, you’re confused.”

Michael goes on to say that he’s capable of asking the questions he needs to ask of a sex partner as and when he needs to ask them. He reminds his friend that revealing someone else’s HIV status without their permission is “out of line.”

Praise and debate

Online, many have praised the video.

“Michael you are an angel to gays everywhere. Please keep speaking your truth and shining your light!” said one.

Another added, “Absolutely brillant and important!” while someone else simply said, “Thank you. As an undetectable poz guy, I truly appreciate this video.”

However, not everyone agreed with Michael’s message.

“I get the point of this video, but many people aren’t open about the status. People lie a lot, so when a friend asks me to look out or says someone is positive I view it as a good thing,” said another.

Another said, “I’m honestly conflicted. I don’t gossip about people’s status, but at the same time, if a friend of mine is hooking up with someone that I know hooks up a lot and is positive, my instinct is to let my friend know. I don’t know who out here is being honest, and I don’t know if my friend asked any questions. I know I didn’t in the past.”

Generally, more people agreed with the video’s message than disagreed: It’s for HIV-positive people to decide when and how to inform others about their status. And it’s on all of us to not be afraid or embarrassed to raise the topic of HIV status and protection before we have sex with a new partner.

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