“Stigma” has become the buzzword of 2018. It is a word that crops up regularly in the news lately but is used heavily within the gay health sector. But what does it actually mean and why is fighting “stigma” so important to them?
The narrative they sell is we cannot end HIV without ending “HIV stigma”. It’s an abstract concept and something that can never be achieved. For example the stigma of divorce, unmarried mothers and being gay has now gone from society. Disease will always be “stigmatised” as it’s something you do not want in your life and you wish to avoid. Their concept is HIV should not be “feared” in the gay community and if you do you cannot have a fulfilling sex life. You are a self hating homophobe and see your sex life in terms of “risk”. They see wearing a condom a sign of your “fear”.
Originally the concept of fighting the “HIV stigma” was a good one. It was all about being sympathetic, kind and respectful towards someone who had been infected with HIV. To show empathy and caring within the gay community. That you should not dismiss someone with HIV and could have a relationship with them as long as you wore a condom, it wasn’t an issue that defined a person.
However the gay (ill)health sector, which is dominated with HIV positive men, has taken “HIV stigma” a step further and perverted its original goal. Put bluntly when they say “fight the stigma” they mean “fight the bareback stigma”. This is because they are in a circle of trauma and conflict. They do not wish to accept that their behaviour of having unprotected sex without a condom, which they have renamed condomless sex, was a bad behaviour which resulted in them being infected with an incurable sexually transmitted disease. They refuse to take responsibility or ownership of their reckless behaviour. It has to be “destigmatised” within the gay community so they feel better and have done no wrong.
So over the last 15 years they have developed a number of strategies to undermine condom use within the gay community, the toolbox of deception as we have named it. So it reaches a point that being infected with HIV is just bad luck, as all strategies are to some degree “flawed”. Even condoms are stated to be unable to save you from HIV or other STIs as they “work” only 70% of the time (a complete lie). This “fighting the bareback stigma” is about helping the mental trauma of their infection NOT keeping HIV negative men free from HIV or STIs.
The consequences of their concept of “stigma” have been devastating in the gay community. They have a bareback agenda they are forcing on the gay community which has culminated with PrEP and disengaged the condom from HIV prevention. PrEP is a more effective way of preventing HIV they claim and condoms are therefore no longer mentioned or only associated with other STIs.
These highly traumatised HIV positive men who hate condoms are now even dismantling past HIV prevention campaigns, that they themselves conceived. These were highly effective in the UK and drove down HIV and STIs to record lows. These gay men are undermining the whole gay health sector and destroying its credibility. They don’t care, their bareback agenda is too important.
They see the campaigns as “moralising” and “fear” inducing, finger wagging, and claim perversely that condoms are a “social control” on the gay community by the patriarchy and heterosexual community. They define “health equalities” in terms of “bareback equality” as gays should have the same opportunity to have unprotected sex as the straight world. If you stigmatise barebacking you will get the aggressive response that “your mother was a barebacker cos she had you!”
That’s where PrEP comes into the equation – to rid the gay community of the social controlling evil condom. It’s these HIV+ mens’ “gay shame” of having unprotected sex without using a condom which needs to be addressed and “destigmatised”. It’s got nothing to do with keeping HIV negative men safe from HIV and other STIs. If it was they would be promoting the hell out of condoms rather than banging on about the intimacy and pleasure and liberation that they see unprotected sex gives them and your “attitude to risk”.
Remember wearing a condom is a sign or a moral, responsible gay man with high self esteem who wishes to protect himself and his partner from HIV and other STIs anything else is reckless, shameful and immoral, and is rightly “stigmatised” and judged. We need to get back to this ethos before these selfish gay men traumatise the gay community with disease in their quest to deal with their gay shame.