Why do so many of us seem so put off that gay men are living with HIV? The fact that people focus on how many gay men get HIV speaks to the belief that gay men will get HIV. There is this sense that you [must] have been doing something bad or unusual to contract the virus. The bottom line is that many contracted HIV doing something everyone’s has: having sex with someone they desire or cared for. The virus just happen to be present when the choice was made to have sex; and contrary to popular belief, that doesn’t make a gay man a bad person or someone that deserves this disease, it just makes that gay man biologically unlucky.
We need to help each other to become aware of the fact that all of us are at risk for HIV. But until that is understood, we need to be agents of their own health. There is nothing shameful about having HIV and we need to realize that each gay man that comes in contact with HIV didn’t do anything to be vilified. Every gay man affected by HIV deserves love, support, encouragement, and proper healthcare.
The less we exceptionalize HIV, the greater the chances that one day, we will shed its stigma. But until we get there, we need to help each other understand that HIV can and does happen. And, that when people are aware of their status and on treatment, they are healthy and non-infectious, so there is no need to fear or stigmatize them.