Does Your HIV Status Give Someone The Green Or Red Light?
It is hard to believe that a little over ten to fifteen years ago, the whole world of “internet dating” was a non factor. People still met in bars, at a gym, through friends or anything that didn’t involve staring at a screen and someone’s four chosen pictures with their favorite TV shows and movies placed right next to said picture. Now that we are steadfastly secure in the digital age it seems to be a common thread for many people, both gay or straight, to resort to online dating as a way to meet people, network yourself, find a good FWB or ultimately for most to find the person they want to spend the rest of their lives with. Yet, something that I have noticed on many a gay apps and websites is the prevalence of placing what your HIV status is in your profile. Something as simple as stating you are “HIV Negative” or “HIV Positive” or even the dreaded option of “Don’t Know” or “N/A” can cause a guy or a girl to either halt the conversation they are having with the other person, instantly hit the block button or turn it into a Q&A where one person asks several questions to the other as to why they did or did not put their HIV status in their profile.
There are ways around this issue that I myself think need to be changed. I was perusing one of the apps a couple of days ago and a local guy from Forest Hills reached out to me and said “Hey”. I went to check his profile out, and in the “About Me” section it made a simple blurb of “HIV Negative as of 3/9/2013”. This brings up a ton of very weird red flags. One, March 2013 was a year ago, so your status could’ve changed since then. Two, the guy may have been tested since then and just didn’t realize that he hasn’t updated his profile since March of last year. It could also be a myriad of other things. Question that I bring up is, shouldn’t that be something a bit more personal to say to someone one on one in an online conversation or in person? Why feel the need to put it out there like that?
Another issue this seems to cause is the men who are HIV positive yet take good care of themselves with medication, treatment, diet, exercise and the whole gamut feeling as if they are instantly blocked from even talking to a person who puts in their profile words like “Neg 4 Neg, UB2” or “HIV Negative since blah blah blah, and prefer the same”. I had one friend in particular who dealt with two very different sides of this type of situation. He was diagnosed in May of 2012 and even two years later is still coming to terms with having this disease, and has had a hard time expressing it on dating apps like this. When he was hit on by one guy, who had the whole “Neg 4 Neg” thing in his profile, the guy simply said that “He is poz friendly, but would prefer someone long term to be neg so it doesn’t cause this internal drama that would be hard to shake as it is always in our face”. Quite a mature response that my friend understood. Then there was the other guy who blatantly stated “I don’t want your bug”. Wow. My friend felt as if because this was something that was unexpected and shocking to him, that he thought many other men of a certain age would be educated about this topic and overlook the status and see the person. Sadly, this isn’t true for all gay men. Heck, I even met a guy a couple of months ago in his 40’s who when having this conversation thinks you can get HIV from a kiss. Yes. A kiss. This is a guy who lived through the AIDS epidemic, who you think being out of the closet as long as he has (20+ years) would actually educate himself on this matter, but alas not everyone can step up to the plate when it comes to being aware of what is going on in this world.
There have also been times where leaving this out of your profile has a profound effect as well. I had a good friend of mine who is HIV positive tell me a story about how some guy woofed at him online and they began chatting for a couple of weeks. In this couple of weeks they did discuss frankly and openly about the kind of sex they enjoy, and this other guy made it seem as if he would be ok with a guy who is positive based off of his liking for unprotected sex. They met, had a couple of drinks one night and went their separate ways. A couple of days later, the other guy invited him over to hook up but my friend said “Hey, just to let you know, I am HIV positive but have been undetectable for quite some time now, hope this isn’t an issue”. The one word response the other guy said was “Oh”. This then lead into the other guy saying that he is friends with guys who are HIV positive but it is a deal breaker that they cannot sleep with someone who is knowingly poz. This lead to a huge and heated debate between the two where my friend said his own biggest point was that he was fine with unprotected sex from guys that he doesn’t know first hand what they have yet he’s not comfortable with someone who is HIV positive yet takes good care of himself, and the other guys big point was that he should’ve talked about this early on and not so late into the conversation as his emotions would’ve been different for the guy. So when you don’t put it on your profile, it can have its weird effects as well.
This is an issue that I brought up with my friends and they had some pretty phenomenal answers to this question that seems to be a hot button topic for so many people (question asked on the update is- Am I the only one that thinks putting your HIV status in your online profile can be seen as highly offensive?)
“Well I think, at least for guys who are positive, it’s a deterrent for guys who will not give them a second look if they knew they were positive. I’m sure it’s super frustrating to be dating someone, tell them your positive, and they never call u again. This eliminates the problem by putting it out there from the start.”
“I don’t think so. HIV carries a stigma. It also helps since people want to know. Frankly, it’s more comfortable to say, “so, you’re profile says you’re negative?” vs having to ask, “so, what’s your HIV status?” consequently, for someone who is positive it’s easier, if they’re comfortable, to say, “I’m HIV positive” and follow it with whether they’re undetectable or not, etc, to alleviate the need to have to answer the question afterwards.”
“It’s really no ones business except your partner and those u want to know. On the flip side, I think it’s also tacky for those who go get tested and post a pic of their negative results. I understand spread the “go get tested” message, but your results personally keep to yourself.”
“I think it’s amazing to be honest, and I’m not a status shamer. I’ve dated both it’s all about trust, and using protection.”
“I think that if you are using dating websites and you carry a disease that you could transmit to your partner, then it is important to either say so in your profile, or be upfront immediately with a possible partner.. the most important thing is the health and well being of yourself and the other person.”
With that being said, now its YOUR turn. What is your take on this subject?
If you are looking for places in your area to get tested, check out this link.