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24 Jul 2009

Breaking this chain of silence (Part 4)

Will you be accepting of a friend or potential partner if he or she came out as being HIV positive to you? How far have we come as a community in coping with the disease and accepting people with HIV?

It has been heartening to read the responses to my articles these past few weeks. I thank the readers for their words of support. Others who commented apparently had their own personal issues to deal with. When Fridae.com first approached me to write about my personal journey as a HIV-positive person, I was a little hesitant at first. My apprehension had to do with sharing my private thoughts and experiences - and leaving myself feeling vulnerable. But I felt it was important to stir some debate on HIV issues within the community - as our infection rates are still climbing, and the level of acceptance of HIV-positive people amongst the LGBT community has still not reached a stage where many are comfortable to come out.

Also, something happened over the weekend which got me thinking of acceptance of HIV-positive people in general. Andy Low came out as an openly positive person in Singapore's Sunday Times. He is only the second person to come out publicly, after Paddy Chew first declared himself as HIV-positive in 1998. It will be interesting to see what public reaction will be like, following his disclosure.

Even when Paddy Chew first came out - within the LGBT community the feeling was divided. Many were proud of his bravery and saw him as a beacon of hope - but there were others less happy. Some accused him of seeking attention and publicity; others felt his coming out merely strengthened the prejudice that AIDS was a gay man's disease.

Since then, I have often asked myself - how far have we come as a community in coping with the disease and accepting people with HIV?

Being gay, we are used to leading shadow lives. Someone once said that gay people are used to living with secrets. HIV is just another one. Many of the gay HIV-positive people I know all live with this secret - they do not feel safe enough to share this secret with the rest of the community. Why is this so?

No one likes to be judged. Who wants to be labelled 'promiscuous', 'irresponsible' and 'stupid'? People can say everyone knows how HIV is transmitted - and those who do not protect themselves only have themselves to blame. As it is, I am discriminated already by mainstream society - I don't need my own community to do so.

I have had my fair share of coming out to people about my status. A few times I was lucky - my first boy friend simply accepted me when I told him on our second meeting. Another sex buddy years ago was grateful I told him - and today we remain good friends.

Then, there were the not-so-good experiences. People would freeze when I told them. One simply refused to look at me and just walked out. A few others became paranoid - the fear of getting infected by just being around me was palpable - and it was their fear or rejection by family and society that made me seem such a threat. It was like I was being punished for opening up.

I got my HIV infection from the most intimate of acts - sex [there, I finally answered that question].

Sexuality and the expression of it have been at the core of many a gay men's sense of identity. The urge for sex is not just a physical craving - at another level, it is our search for acceptance by another, an intimate act that confirms our desirability and self-worth. This urge is made more powerful, especially when mainstream society rejects you.

You cannot ask a person to forget all that by saying "you should know better". Instead, it will drive people underground. People will continue their search for love and acceptance - even if it ends up in sex without condoms. Shocking as it is - this bears out, as the infection rates for gay men (in Asia, and Western countries) continues to climb and is disproportionately higher than the general population.

The introduction of recreational drugs has also not helped. It's almost the norm these days when you go into an internet chat room for people looking for 'high fun' or 'chem sex'. With the growing use of recreational drugs - ecstasy, ketamine, ice and GHB, more people are having unsafe sex - and they know it, but they can't seem to stop it.

Some tell me they only have unsafe sex when they are on drugs - as if that was OK. Others have gotten addicted to sex with drugs, and it's usually unsafe sex. Others just like to bareback - and use drugs as an excuse to continue doing it. Then, there are the fatalistic one - some I have spoken to say they have not tested and do not know their sero-status - but they conclude that they will end up positive one day as they can't seem to stop taking drugs and barebacking. The search for hedonistic pleasure can sometimes lead to just the opposite result. People should know better, I hear you saying - but when it comes to sex and drugs, they apparently do not.

As a community, I have not seen open discussions about all this. I really believe that it is the lack of openness that disempowers us - and makes us vulnerable - to HIV, discrimination, drug abuse and to having a lack of self-esteem. It is so true what the slogan says - 'Silence = Death'.

Where does this leave us? For people like me who are HIV-positive, I will continue to live in the shadows. Coming out to more people will only make me a moving target - and that is not a price I want to pay. I feel that within the LGBT community, I still will not get the support and dignity I deserve as an individual, if I choose come out.

For the young, impressionable gay man - he may not feel empowered to negotiate safer sex practices with a partner. For those who use recreational drugs, they will continue to search out like-minded partners, while not telling their other friends. Like I said before - we are used to living with secrets.

Can we break this chain of silence? Let's start talking. 

This is the fourth installment of a 6-part series which will run every other Friday. 

Reader's Comments

1. 2009-07-24 20:18  
i agree with your words

"As a community, I have not seen open discussions about all this. I really believe that it is the lack of openness that disempowers us - and makes us vulnerable - to HIV, discrimination, drug abuse and to having a lack of self-esteem. It is so true what the slogan says - 'Silence = Death'."

HIV seems so distant to me till i met a guy who is HIV positive. Later on, i discuss with my fuck buddy about the risk, if he has been tested before. I go for my regular testing at least once every 6 month. He was shocked when i mentioned HIV, and he told me that he never get tested as he always practised "safe" anal sex, but not oral sex. In the end, he refused to go for his test, and we never met or chatted again.

From my conversation with my friends, most friends of mine (straight and gays) are still in denial about HIV. I lost a few friends when i told them that i met this guy who is positive and some of them even told me that those infected should stay at home and avoid going out!

I believe that each and everyone of us has a part to play to control the epidemic, safe sex aside, one should get tested regularly so that we do not unintentionally spread the virus. Furthermore, with prompt treatment, the patients can enjoy a decent standard of living.

Good luck SL Yang, i respect your bravery in sharing your story.
2. 2009-07-24 21:04  
When the article came out on papers, I received calls and emails asking me why Andy is not locked up at the CDC... I am no more friends with such people.

Reading your story, I can't help but to feel like I have heard it before... Your thoughts are so similar to Andy's and I know what you are going through. SL Yang, stay strong cos YOU ARE DEFINITELY NOT ALONE IN THIS!

It's time to come out of the shadows because HIV is the same as any other dreadful diseases. What I can't tolerate is the stigma and the health ministry is NOT doing enough to educate the public about this. Only towards World AIDS Day then our papers would write some small story about the disease and repeat points on how to avoid it. This has got to change. HIV/ AIDS is an everyday thing. It's going to be here whether we like it or not.

I recently went out with someone on a date, everything was perfect till I told him about Andy and he hasn't met up again ever since. It stung me hard as why some people are like this? You don't get HIV from visiting a place that has got a HIV positive person living there? YOU WILL INSTEAD GET H1N1 IF YOU VISIT AN INFECTED PERSON WITH THE STRAIN.

Peopel tend to fear HIV more than other dreadful diseases. This is strange. You mean they are more afraid of a tiger than a full grown hungry lion? Well, both are fierce, both kills right?

I pray the day will come when a vaccine is available. I pray harder for the stigma to be gone.
3. 2009-07-24 21:43  
Thank you for sharing your story SL Yang. You're right, these issues need to be discussed.

To start removing the stigma it's been very helpful for well-known people who are widely respected to set an example by being seen to meet and hug or shake hands with people who are HIV positive or in hospital with full blown AIDS. This happened in the UK with Princess Diana taking a lead, and I've read that a senior politician in China has been doing something similar.

Singapore, in it's uniquely judgmental way and despite its wealth, seems to want to deliberately stigmatise people, according to other articles here, by not subsidising the medicines necessary to keep people alive who have this condition, on the grounds that it's a "lifestyle disease". Sounds like it may be a fundamentalist with the key to the medicine cabinet, or at least someone of stunning insensitivity.

Maybe if the PM, SM or MM were photographed in contact with some AIDS patients it might be a start to reducing the stigma and educating people that ordinary contact is perfectly safe. I lived for several years with two friends who turned out to be HIV positive and it was never transmitted to me.

On the drugs/sex development I guess we need to hear from people who've been through that and how they got off it.
4. 2009-07-24 21:52  
i am really pround of you for sharing your story..may sun shine on you and bring joy in your life everyday,think positive and be strong!"many people are so concerned with bustling through life that they neglect to prepare mentally for the inevitability of death.They forgot to live a meaningful life before death arrives.Everyone is afraid of dying,but without knowing death,how can you know life?"
5. 2009-07-24 22:12  
It is always hard to accept something that had been "alienated" through out the society, the world, in fact. Are these due to ignorance? I doubt so. It is easier to stay away from the stereo-typed than even trying. I'm not saying this because I know anyone who is HIV+, in fact I don't know any.
I applaud you, SL Yang and others for your courage in sharing with us your stories. It reminded me that being human itself is a weakness but it is also our strength. We always felt vulnerable when we have secrets in the shadow. Perhaps, we should learn from this vulnerability and build a rainbow after the rain.
6. 2009-07-24 22:24  
SL, a great series of articles. You are brave indeed to be so open about it all and are to be commended. just a few thoughts:

It would be a remarkable day indeed to see the PM, SM or MM phtographed with any HIV+ person. We cannot expect any government individual in Singapore to be so inclined. How could that be otherwise when their mentality (and laws) impose deportation on any Work Permit holder or PR. (Admitedly, Singapore is not alone in this ufortunately; the majority of which countries seem to be middle eastern and Russian but ther are several others; the US under the Bush administraion had the same policy but at least the Obama administration is apprently in the process of changing the laws. In this region, Thailand, Laos, Indoenesia, Vietnam and others have no such restrictions.) For a full losting of HIV travel restrictions see: "plwha.org"
Many people still speak (as a hold-over from the early 90's) in terms of "full-blown AIDS". From what I understand, there is no such thing. One becomes infected with HIV and it is when certain criteria are reached, such as CD4 count of less than 200 or an AIDS related opportunistic infection such as pcp or sk, etc., that one is considered to have AIDS. From what the doctors have told me is that AIDS is a technical definition imposed by the US CDC. (I do not by any means intend to speak down to those with serious opportunistic infections; and it was heartening indeed to have seen the Princess of Wales take lead.) With the various ART drugs available since the mid-90's and continuing to be developed (as opposed to AZT, etc.), hopefully we will see less and less individuals suffering from such debilitating opportunistic infections. (I had 2 friends in Australia succumb, before the new generation of drugs, and it was most distressing not just for me as one their friends but more so for there family: wasting, blindness, pneumonia, and dementia.)

Some great additional specific HIV sites include "the body.com", "poz.com" and Johns Hopkins-hiv guide.org"

But it is great to see this type of discussion which will hopefully lead to more understanding about HIV as a manageable chronic disease, which with proper adherence to one's HART regimen will keep it under control and lead to a full and active life.
7. 2009-07-24 23:25  
Paddy was a friend of mine before he was HIV positive and he is still a friend even if he had passed on to a world which knows no discrimination. It takes immense courage to reveal you're HIV positive in a society like ours , especially when society denies everything that's related to death. I honestly do not know what we can do to rid society of this stigma but certainly, public discussion would help, and less bigotry. My heart goes out to you.
8. 2009-07-25 12:03  
It is unfortunate that the society we live in simply likes to pass judgment on others. I feel sorry for you and those who are infected.

I guessed the mainstream are afraid that they will also be infected. It's sad but true how little many people know about this disease. For a start we need to get all our acts right within our own community. If PLU like us cannot accept , tolerate , forgive and understand , how then can we expect others to do so.

Education , awareness and openness is important to move to the next level. My heart goes out to all those who are infected. Let's hope someday society can accept and stop judging !!

Lastly I hope PLU like us do not always showcase our lifestyle to the outside world that all we think , act and talk about are bare bodies , sex , parties and naked torsos. This will give others a one sided perception of PLUs.
9. 2009-07-25 14:59  
Don't you wish for a positive utopia?

Where we can exist openly with our sero-status without fear of discrimination?

I believe current government and public health laws has a tendency to criminalise the positive individual by imposing penalties for not disclosing. This is true both in Singapore (where I was born), and Australia (where I now live).

In my opinion each individual is an adult and is responsible for his/her own personal safety. The onus should not be on the positive to disclose with each encounter, unless its bareback sex. Either you have safe sex and not discuss disclosure, or else you open up the topic and ask if your partner has tested. I will always tell the truth if I am asked.

True to the author's line of thought, current public health laws have created the negative impact of driving most positives underground. This makes life all the more difficult for the positive. It also instills fear of HIV as a disease and increases HIV stigma. I believe this reduces the likelihood that the public would want to learn more about HIV, and makes them less likely to test themselves.
Comment edited on 2009-07-25 15:00:31
10. 2009-07-25 16:38  
Will I be accepting as a friend or a potential partner if "he" came out as being HIV positive to me? My answer, unconditionally, without hesitation, is YES, YES, YES.
11. 2009-07-25 18:08  
Good article. Everyone has a responsibilty on their shoulders to take care of our vulnerable community. Knowledge is power.
12. 2009-07-25 18:19  
“Sexuality and the expression of it have been at the core of many a gay men's sense of identity. The urge for sex is not just a physical craving - at another level, it is our search for acceptance by another, an intimate act that confirms our desirability and self-worth. This urge is made more powerful, especially when mainstream society rejects you.”

What flawed assessment that was, applicable I guess if you’re a one dimensional queer with limited self esteem and reasoned thinking, to more multidimensional men who integrate their homosexuality as but an aspect of who they are and not the totality, it just washes over you with a sense of being mundane.
Living as a professional victim whether you are Homosexual orientated, HIV+, a racial minority in a society dominated by another ethnic group just plain restricts your mental resolve to move forward, there are many of us who have successfully moved past victim hood, lamenting and groaning in agony over every ‘real or imagined’ transgression by others drains our vitality and saps our ability to be creative and to rise to any occasion where opportunities to positively inform others are offered.

Homosexual orientated men don’t need sex as often as the slut lobby encourage us to believe we do, c’mon they just want the numbers so they can exploit us, can you imagine if most men decided to be more discerning and self disciplined? the sex venues would dry up and go out of business and STDs would plummet to historical lows, I’m almost 2yrs celibate I consider it a healthier option much preferable to the not at all 100% safer sex option, I encourage other men to also consider this till they find them selves in suitable healthy, functional, loyal relationships, they do exist not all men are total losers, I have a healthy sex drive how ever I just reasoned I value my good health and well being more than I do bad sex with a multitude of creepy queers who just use you as a spunk disposal unit and have no concern or respect towards your humanity or good health, Sydney is a revolting cesspit of squalid men happily passing around allsorts of STDs, celibacy is not a hard decision to make really.HIV/AIDS is an avoidable disease; just keep your pants on simple! People with other incurable STDs/STIs like the Herpes Simplex virus have to also deal with informing potential partners of their status as do people with Hepatitis C, people deal with the same possible rejections as do HIV+ people it’s a reality many people do deal with effectively, every one has a right to choose whether or not they want to risk being infected with any thing and if they choose to not want to be involved that’s fine, it just means that the right one for you is still coming, why be depressed or angry and shut down in despondency it’s pointless move on fast with vigor and optimism, you’ll be more attractive to other potential partners, no ‘disease’ defines who and what you are unless you allow it, who you are and what you represent in your humanity if it’s uplifting and purposeful is what better defines you, that is if you got it right, it’s about thinking clearly and making wise choices.
13. 2009-07-25 19:50  
good article. Some people are judgmental of others. Education and knowledge is the key to curb this stigma that seems to act like a disease in itself.

Will i accept a friend who is HIV + ? Most definitely, without a doubt.
14. 2009-07-26 00:16  
Great series of articles, SL Yang.
Many young ones would be saved by your frankness.
Why not extend this series to 12 parts or more?
I'm not kidding but I do hear experts say that drinking one's own urine helps relieve oneself from AIDS.
Heaven bless you!

Comment #15 was deleted by its author
16. 2009-07-26 03:24  
What SL shares is a micro perspective. What's at stake, however, are the macro issues.

By keeping 377a, the lawmakers obstruct the global progress towards embracing tolerance and equality. The United Nations has condemned laws that criminalize homosexuality as being violations of the rights to privacy and equality and has called upon member states that maintain such laws to review them.

According to the UNAIDS, "stigma and discrimination constitute one of the greatest barriers to dealing effectively with the epidemic. They discourage governments from acknowledging or taking timely action against AIDS. They deter individuals from finding out about their HIV status."

By ignoring the UN's and UNAIDS' concerted calls to review our anti-gay sex law, and defending it with the equivocal "reasoning" that the majority are against homosexuality ----a global phenomenon--- the govt has impaired the critical, integral relationship between the governmental agencies and the most vulnerable groups. It is not surprising, then, that HIV infections proliferate.

Worse, the treatment-financing system here for HIV-infected individuals is dreadfully defective. The 3 major pillars of financing treatment of diseases are: Insurance, Subsidies and Savings (including one's Medisave Account savings). All the three Pillars for HIV-infected individuals are hollow.

First, insurance companies here typically specifically exclude coverage of treatment costs associated with HIV. This effectively obliterates the first Pillar.

Next, the govt does not provide any/sufficient subsidy for HIV medication. Many HIV-infected individuals still need to pay 4-figure sums out of their own pockets every month for their life-saving pills. This is the present state of the second, flattened Pillar.

Lastly, the Medisave regulations allow for only use of up to $550/month from exclusively the patient's own Medisave account to be used for his HIV medication. Many infected individuals suffer not from just poorer health but also less income-earning opportunities stemming from the unimpeachable nation-wide discrimination. Burdened with a heavy monthly medical bill and a reduced income, many HIV-infected individuals are forced to deplete their savings.

Yet, they do not expect the society to restrain its afflictions. Stuck in such dire straits, it is understandable why Andy Low had chosen to end his own life. More deleterious, though, would be those who choose not to destruct their own lives but that of others in our society.

Singapore needs to grow up. We cannot view this issue as an isolated problem affecting only a small group of immoral deviants. The virus is morality-blind. The government must diverge from its propensity to sweep the important issues such as homosexuals, HIV and Comprehensive Sexuality Programme under the carpet. Without a surge from the top, the 'orderly' Singaporean society cannot sprout to become a truly first-world society which embraces first-class compassion and respect for both the minorities and the less fortunate.
17. 2009-07-26 08:45  
Thanks SL for raising issues around a struggle that has been forced upon us since 1985.

I have worked within the 'AIDS Industry' for many years, and witnessed the decline and fracturing of a community, the death of most of my long term friends (and even a partner), and now I see each day through my friends lives the ongoing difficulties of managing a long term disease.

Disclosure is always a difficult area 'To disclose or not to disclose...that is the question?' Within Australia, a country often presented as a best practice model within HIV management and response, the debate on disclosure continues still. Though bound by Australian laws (that vary from State to State), the issue becomes blurred when the practicalities of daily life, and one's self esteem and belonging, community connection and acceptance are threatened.

The world is not black and white, and the greys around us make such decisions difficult. They are greys that can impact on every part of one's lives: family relationships, friends, partners, work and also the way one is treated in sports, seeking medical treatment etc. The labeling and persecution that was undertaken by Hitler against Jewish people (and gays and lesbians) sadly resounds within gay communities. They are misplaced fears that are continually fueled by religions, governments and bigots.

In playing devil's advocate, do you ask every one you sleep with what their medical history is? Do you have Hep A, B, C, ...etc.? If safe sex is being practiced, and this is the responsibility of both partners, positive and negative, then there should be no issue. Unfortunately this is not how the situation is always seen, by Governments an by the people they inform, control and oversee.

Many of my friends, some who have been positive for 24 years, choose not to disclose for this reason.. that having a disease makes no god damn difference if you are practicing safe sex! It is no body's business but your own!

I was astounded to see that in Malaysia and Singapore, companies are able to ask you to undergo a HIV check before employing. That is another discriminatory issue for another time, yet it serves as a reinforcement to the steriotype of a positive person.

Sl raises the catch cry Silence = death. This is a slogan that he quotes out of context. It originated from an organisation called ACT UP, who fought long and hard to reduce many of the issues faced by positive people. ACT UP stemmed from the gay communities response against this disease. The slogan meant if we do not fight back against the discrimination then we are signing our own death warrants. The other cry that accompanies this slogan is ACTION - LIFE , this ACTON = LIFE, SILENCE = DEATH. It is not about disclosure!

Thank you SL for raising important issues, and yes, Singapore has a long way to go in overcoming these attitudes, though unfortunately, even in Australia, this still occurs, though fortunately, not at the same intensity.
18. 2009-07-26 08:45  
Thanks SL for raising issues around a struggle that has been forced upon us since 1985.

I have worked within the 'AIDS Industry' for many years, and witnessed the decline and fracturing of a community, the death of most of my long term friends (and even a partner), and now I see each day through my friends lives the ongoing difficulties of managing a long term disease.

Disclosure is always a difficult area 'To disclose or not to disclose...that is the question?' Within Australia, a country often presented as a best practice model within HIV management and response, the debate on disclosure continues still. Though bound by Australian laws (that vary from State to State), the issue becomes blurred when the practicalities of daily life, and one's self esteem and belonging, community connection and acceptance are threatened.

The world is not black and white, and the greys around us make such decisions difficult. They are greys that can impact on every part of one's lives: family relationships, friends, partners, work and also the way one is treated in sports, seeking medical treatment etc. The labeling and persecution that was undertaken by Hitler against Jewish people (and gays and lesbians) sadly resounds within gay communities. They are misplaced fears that are continually fueled by religions, governments and bigots.

In playing devil's advocate, do you ask every one you sleep with what their medical history is? Do you have Hep A, B, C, ...etc.? If safe sex is being practiced, and this is the responsibility of both partners, positive and negative, then there should be no issue. Unfortunately this is not how the situation is always seen, by Governments an by the people they inform, control and oversee.

Many of my friends, some who have been positive for 24 years, choose not to disclose for this reason.. that having a disease makes no god damn difference if you are practicing safe sex! It is no body's business but your own!

I was astounded to see that in Malaysia and Singapore, companies are able to ask you to undergo a HIV check before employing. That is another discriminatory issue for another time, yet it serves as a reinforcement to the steriotype of a positive person.

Sl raises the catch cry Silence = death. This is a slogan that he quotes out of context. It originated from an organisation called ACT UP, who fought long and hard to reduce many of the issues faced by positive people. ACT UP stemmed from the gay communities response against this disease. The slogan meant if we do not fight back against the discrimination then we are signing our own death warrants. The other cry that accompanies this slogan is ACTION - LIFE , this ACTON = LIFE, SILENCE = DEATH. It is not about disclosure!

Thank you SL for raising important issues, and yes, Singapore has a long way to go in overcoming these attitudes, though unfortunately, even in Australia, this still occurs, though fortunately, not at the same intensity.
19. 2009-07-26 13:39  
Thank you for a great series of articles. This article has been the best one yet because it raises many questions, but few answers. The answers are inside each person. Will people accept you or leave your life? I have had both happen since I was diagnosed in January of 1997.

The worst was sitting in a restaurant, talking with a new friend over dinner and drinks. The conversation turned to sex and our status. I told him that I was positive. I could see by the look in his face that things just went downhill. A few minutes later, he excused himself to go to the restroom but left the restaurant, never to be seen again.

Needless to say, that experience stung for a while and I quit trying to date for several years. I've had similar experiences online.

Luckily, thanks to Fridae, I have met someone who loves me for who I am, not for my status. But not everyone is that lucky. All I can say to those who are affected is to stay on top of your health, subscribe to online newsletters, have a doctor who treats you well and is concerned. Surround yourself with those who love you as a person. And most importantly, keep a positive mental attitude. You will have your good days and you will have your bad days, just try to have more good ones than bad ones.

To Mr. Yang: I hope to read more from you in the future.
20. 2009-07-26 23:41  
my ex of 3m is hiv plus. when he got tested with it, he chose not to tell me about it initially. we broke up because i had to relocate for work indefinitely then. anyhow we became friends. one day i told him over the fone that i was going to have a major cosmetic surgery and there probably would be some bloody tests etc... he then told me that he got hiv and he knew about it during the 3m we dated. we only had safe sex then. i was so worried, i went for a test, its -ve, i tested again after 3m from the -ve result, its -ve. so i got over the worriness.

even we only dated for about 3m then, i felt hurtful because he was not honest to me. i would accept that fact and tried to support him anyhow i could. but because he didnt tell me about it, about something that could potential have great effect to our courtship. i chose to ignore all his communication attempts since.

so to answer the question, will i be accepting of a friend or potential partner if he or she came out as being HIV positive to you? sure why not, its just a sickness, no big deal, lots of people never got to develop AIDS from it and they can lead a pretty normal life. its pretty harmless really in comparison to a whole lot of other diseases. HOWEVER, if someone choose to hide or lie about it, its a different story, once the trust is broken, it is not going to be mended easily.
Comment edited on 2009-07-26 23:55:15
21. 2009-07-27 05:02  
#19, u r way better off without that loser who left the restaurant without so much of a proper goodbye and closure. Most of society is like tat unfortunately. But your positive ( no pun intended) spin to see things for the better is the right and only way to move forward. It's easier said than done but with enough self worth, one can only be put down if one lets the ugly ones stay in. Be strong.

SL, u stay strong too. All will be well. Let the goodness in. Peace & health.
22. 2009-07-27 21:22  
There are so many things about HIV prevention that are counter-intuitive. Draconian public health laws and stigma fuel rather than fight the epidemic.

More and more studies show that treatment is the most effective prevention. They also show that the main vector of transmission is not HIV+ guys who have tested and are on successful treatment. It is those who do not, or will not, get tested that mostly spread the virus.

Yet most people, it seems, who would have risky sex with someone whose HIV status they could not know for sure would run a mile from safe sex with a guy who was HIV+ and with an undetectable viral load, even though the risks (while still there) are exceedingly small.

The stigma has other effects too, compounded by the culture of gossip in much of the gay community. If my disclosure to a potential sex partner meant simply missing out on a pleasurable shag, there would be no excuse not to tell. But when a person's HIV+ status is a legitimate topic of gossip, the risks of ostracism to a disclosing HIV+ guy enter into the equation. And not many of us will become "early and consistent disclosers".

Let's establish a culture where people neither to listen to, nor spread, HIV-related gossip. That's one step everyone can take to protect themselves and others by encouraging disclosure.

Stay safe and stay healthy everyone, whether HIV+ or HIV-!
23. 2009-07-28 00:05  
There are a few things that the government should do, and a few that the gay community could.

Government:
................
1) Repeal 377a;
2) Increase the withdrawal limit for Medisave use on HIV treatment;
3) Approve use of Medisave for treatments in selected quality offshore HIV clinics in Thailand and Malaysia;
4) Remove Medishield's exclusion on HIV-associated medical treatments for those insured who are diagnosed of HIV infection after a waiting period. This will prompt the insurance industry to review extending cover to HIV-infected individuals who are diagnosed after a waiting period (e.g. 5 years after inception of a medical insurance policy);
5) Work directly with AFA, Fridae, Trevvy and Oogachaga to engage the gay community, and finance their promotional efforts;
6) Hire a leading team of sexuality education experts from the USA to consult the MOE in the development of a Comprehensive Sexuality Education programme, which will be delivered to all secondary schools. It should cover sexual orientations, gay sexual practices and the importance of respect and tolerance, beside the other topics like STDs, contraception and human biology. The position on homosexuality and gay sex should be that of the mainstream medical community, as represented by the American Psychiatric Association and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, England.
7) Increase financial aids to HIV-infected individuals to the extent that the general public would no long perceive the diagnosis of HIV infection as a death sentence and, hence, be more willing to go for regular testing. It also reduces the financial problems-related stress of the existing HIV-infected individuals which reduce the likelihood of them becoming antisocial and uncooperative to the MOH.
8) Spearhead the drive for accepting HIV-infected individuals into the workplace. Employ them in governmental departments, and make announcement of the government's commitment to providing a specific number of jobs to HIV individuals. Of course, the specific positions and departments must not be named so as to protect the identities of the employed HIV-infected individuals. By so doing, the government sends a strong message to the private sector that HIV individuals can perform equally well in most positions.

Gay Community:
---------------
1) Continue to convey one and only message: ALWAYS practice protected sex. Whether your partner has known/been attached to you for donkey years, or is BELIEVED to be faithful, clean, healthy or HIV-negative because he told you he just tested negative.
2) Condemn and even demonize the use of illegal drugs that are known to impair mental judgment. Because when a person's mind is unsound, he can't be expected to be able to protect himself.
3) Make a commitment to provide employment opportunities to qualified HIV-infected individuals so that they can continue to make a living and pay for their medical expenses. For example, if a gay disco needs 10 employees, the manager might make a commitment to employ at least 2 HIV-infected individuals who are qualified
4) Moderate the gay chat rooms and forums and ban those who publicly solicit for chem-sex parties or unprotected sex
5) Convey to the government the above steps that it needs to take in order to help the gay community fight the epidemic better



24. 2009-08-08 00:46  
"The urge for sex is not just a physical craving - at another level, it is our search for acceptance by another, an intimate act that confirms our desirability and self-worth. This urge is made more powerful, especially when mainstream society rejects you."
Can't agree with you more!
25. 2009-08-22 03:33  
hi bro,

I really thank God for you to share your life story, it a good one. and i agree with u that ppl sometime dont play safe due to enjoyment or feeling. or even drug as u say.

but teens out there is too new and blur to know thing about safe sex. so for ppl who know just do to harm them. and i feel sad for them. But no matter what ur life story will teach all of us :) haha
26. 2009-12-04 23:55  
I've wondered much what it is about HIV that rattles the human psyche and sees it being treated differently and with so much total denial and discrimination compared to just about any other terminal illness. Even the persistent smoker with terminal lung cancer doesn't have to hide in the shadows but is given sympathy, but when it comes to HIV it's a nightmare.
I can only conclude it's because HIV threatens such a vital, visceral aspect of human existence: sexual intimacy and love, that it evokes such a reaction of horror and denial. HIV not only wrecks your DNA but it wrecks your ability to pass on your DNA to create new life and perpetuate the species. The idea that you might pass on a deadly virus when engaged in the most intimate of human activities supposed to create new life, viz. sex, is simply anathema to society. In other words, HIV tears up the very heart of human existence.
At a more mundane level - especially for gay people, HIV has crashed the party. HIV is authoritarian, it tells us what to do: wear condoms, have safe sex, act responsibly, and if we don't behave there will be very serious consequences.
No self-respecting gay person wants to be told what to do. We just managed to throw off the shackles of discrimination and criminalization and now there's this virus that wants to put us back into the very box we just escaped from! Who wants to deal with that?
Still, it's the only choice. It seems so unfair, just when we've overcome the government and the churches, nature lashes out at us. But not just "us, it's lashing out at everyone.
HIV is now the biggest infectious disease in the world, and 2 million children have this virus. Nature doesn't discriminate. We need to face up to reality. Not morality, but reality. And that simply means everyone. No one is safe from this. No one is exempt.
Just remember, this is a virus, and a deadly one. Viruses are not conscious agents. They don't think like humans do. They just reproduce where they can wherever the opportunity presents itself. Have fun, be safe & love yourself!
27. 2011-06-14 15:29  
What is AIDS ?

What is HIV Testing ?

Are the mass population at any measureable risk of HIV infection ?

Is HIV the cause of AIDS ?

Our Immune System will get rid of HIV within a few weeks ?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_N4zgjF0K0
Comment #28 was deleted by an administrator on 2012-11-12 12:33

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