This is despite the fact that a HIV guy on medication, who is undetectable, is virtually no risk of infection – and a far safer option than sleeping with a guy who doesn’t know his status.
And that, my friends, is how we came up with HIV Blind Date.
“HIV is the gay scene’s boogie man,” said DJ Mark Ashley-Dupe in our Young People’s Discussion of HIV.
I remember phoning up the NHS Direct helpline, telling them I’d had my tongue up this boy’s ass, and asking whether I needed PEP.
A lovely lady at the other end of the phone carefully but clearly explained: “No, babe.” Yet his status was why I didn’t call up the boy again.
All of them have mentioned negative reactions to disclosure – either online or in real life.
One 27-year-old told me: “A guy I used to know came up to me in a bar and said “I’ve heard something really horrible about you, that you’ve got HIV.” I said “Yeah, I have” and he just turned his back on me and walked away.” Other reactions have included being blocked on Grindr, people stating they only date ‘clean’ guys, and being turned down for sex on grounds of health reasons.
I could deal with the drugs and the escorting – working on the Soho gay scene I was never very far from either – but the virus was one small step for man, one giant leap for my mind.
In the past six years I’ve learnt a lot more about HIV, and dated two positive guys. Cute and I were drunk when he started talking about an abusive ex-relationship.
“An HIV diagnosis can affect the individual’s relationship with his community in so many ways,” says Professor Rusi Jaspal, Chair in Psychology & Sexual Health at De Montfort University.
“Just one negative reaction towards one’s positive serostatus can be immensely challenging to one’s sense of self – it can compromise one’s sense of self-worth and self-esteem, and as well as one’s sense of belonging, acceptance and inclusion.
A good HIV dating site is not just to help you find your love but also expose you to the group of people who have HIV.