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1 Dec 2008

Hugo Chang: Attitude speaks

If you hang around California Fitness in Zhongxiao East Road in Taipei, you may bump into Hugo Chang - a beefy, sunny big boy with poster boy looks. He may be HIV+ but he doesn't let the illness get him down.

Chatty, witty and candid, Hugo Chang didn't hide his personality when meeting Fridae's Taipei correspondent Jason Tan.

"If it weren't for the fact that I am HIV positive, I could still be an arrogant, self-centered guy and easily have my way with guys - thanks to the cute looks some say I possess," admitted 32-year-old Hugo.

"I have to stand out and shatter the stereotype that all HIV/AIDS patients are dreadful," he said.

It was a hot, passionate affair when he gave a blow job - minus the protection - to a man while he had an ulcer in the mouth. Later, few feverish nights sent him to the emergency room, and the blood test showed that he was HIV positive. It happened in 2000, when he was 25 years old.

"People ask if I hate him for infecting me. But I wasn't forced into the act, so I had to shoulder half of the responsibility. Maybe it is my destiny and it prompted me to look at things differently. In a way, I am lucky," he said.

He came clean about his being gay and HIV positive to his family, colleagues and the public. While it's obvious he has got the whole package (and proves it in a Jan-Feb 2006 issue of Good Guy magazine), he is more than a just a pretty face. In 2005, he became the spokesman of a local AIDS prevention campaign in which he was the poster boy and he said: "Don't I look as good as Takeshi Kaneshiro in the shot?" He went on a popular TV talk show hosted by public gay TV personality Kevin Tsai to talk about LGBT issues and being a macho-yet-vulnerable man.

To Hugo, coming out wasn't a particularly difficult decision.

"This is my attitude in life, and being gay or HIV positive doesn't change the way I treat my friends. If you can't accept the fact that I am gay or positive, so be it," he said.

Hugo Chang (above and top of page, left) with well known Taiwanese pop star A-mei (middle) who's frequently dubbed the 'queen of Mandarin pop' speaking about HIV/AIDS at the Taiwan Pride Parade in 2007.
In this interview, Hugo bared all again - this time his soul - to talk about becoming certain of his sexuality in senior high school, getting infected with HIV and his decision to take a road less travelled.

æ: You wrote in your blog that you became aware of your sexuality in your teens, what was it like then and when did you come out to your family?

Hugo: It was in junior high school that I started to find myself curious about men's bodies. But I was timid as it was the days of limited information on LGBT issues. I was certain of my sexuality when I went into senior high school and before I reported for military training (which is compulsory for all Taiwanese males when they turn 19); I came out to my sister. She told me that our family would stand by me; but if I really opted to go this path, I had to be ready for the pressure and challenges usually not faced by heterosexuals.

æ: How did you find out about your HIV status?

Hugo: After a casual sexual encounter in 2000, I developed fever which lasted 15 days. I was admitted to the emergency room on the eighth day and the basic blood test came out ok. But I told the doctor I was gay and asked him to do a HIV test. (In Taiwan, doctors have to gain the patient's consent before testing for HIV). The test came back negative due to the window period and I did another test. The fever continued and I was hospitalised for a week. I was told to pick up another report in a month's time.

I had a whole month to contemplate on the outcome; there was a 50:50 chance of me getting infected. If the result came back positive, I had to prepare for the challenges ahead. I would be a lucky folk if I wasn't infected and I told myself I would take extra precaution in my future sexual encounters. But it was not to be.

I went to pick up the report in the middle of a work day, and told my colleagues to wish me luck. In the hospital, after being told that the test had come back positive, I only uttered an "Ah". I wasn't taken aback as I already had a whole month to prepare for the worst. I called my sister and asked her to tell my mother and brothers. The pressure was tremendous and I couldn't bear to tell my mother in person. My brother told me that she cried nearly a month but she didn't reproach me. She asked if she wasn't being a good enough mother.

æ: What made you decide to go public about your infection?

Hugo: These days, Taipei is more LGBT friendly. But I think there could have been some breakthroughs. I had evaluated the situation about my family and workplace and decided that the time was ripe for me to jump out and speak for the HIV/AIDS community. [Note: Hugo became the spokesman for Taiwan's AIDS prevention campaign in 2005 when the heatlh authorities wanted to promote the awareness on Dec 1, World AIDS Day.] Harnessing the power of media would reach more people than just coming clean to only my friends.

Going public was relatively easy as I had moved out of my family home after my military training, so fewer neighbours could recognise me and point fingers at my family.

If you have a positive attitude, most people wouldn't discriminate against HIV patients. I did prepare for the worst after telling the company what happened to me. I already worked there for three years, so I thought I would at least be compensated if I got fired. (Laugh) After appearing for the HIV/AIDS campaign, my friends were worried that my landlord would kick me out, or neighbours boycott me, or restaurants refuse to sell me food, but all these did not happen.

In general, I didn't really face discrimination except being rejected by some of the guys I tried to pick up. (Laugh)

æ: How did your colleagues react to the news?

Hugo: Some people think that all HIV patients are frail and/or those have ulcerous skin. I want to be proof that AIDS isn't that dreadful. I chose to took the medicine as soon as I tested positive although my viral count was low.

At the time, I would put the bottles of pills on the office desk, and I had to swallow 12 to 16 pills a day according to different schedules. Sometimes I have difficulty sticking to the precise intake timetable due to hectic office work, but now things are better as I only need to take the pills twice a day - in the morning and at night. To some patients who may vomit or have diarrhea after taking the pills, I would only experience nausea but now the situation is better as my body has gotten used to the medication after eight years.

Sometimes when my colleagues ask what those pills were for, I would joke and say: "They are for my HIV, so that I could live longer and share your workload." Probably because I am working in a media company [Hugo works in a TV station doing computer animation], so people here are open minded. And I had worked there for three years before the infection, so they already knew me as a person.

My boss even asked me if overseas treatment was more advanced, and if yes, he was willing to send me abroad. I was moved and consider myself to be a lucky guy.

æ: How does Taiwanese society and government today see HIV positive people?

Hugo: In Taiwan, patients have to apply for a special medical card to get full medicine subsidy from the government. The medical bill every month for a single patient could run up to nearly NT$20,000 (US$610), so it is a heavy burden for the government.

The government is still focusing on the education of AIDS prevention among adults. But another area of concern is of HIV positive babies. How could they adjust to school life given the stigma? People are still uncertain about the transmission ways of HIV/AIDS, even among LGBT community. But they are no longer that fearful/ignorant of the disease. I am trying to maintain a positive lifestyle and looking at my best. I want to prolong my lifespan now, so that when those days really come in the future, it would be the time I depend on my family.

æ: Why did you decide to strip for Good Guy magazine in 2006?

Hugo: After the AIDS awareness campaign, the publishing company approached me and wanted to do a story on HIV/AIDS and asked me to be the cover guy. I was then 28 years old, thinking that if I didn't do it then, I might regret that I didn't for the rest of my life! I did struggle as I was required to do full frontal shots. Then again, it did satisfy my desire to have my own pictorial and how could I let the cover boy chance slip?! (Laugh) Plus, I reached an agreement with the company: they would donate NT$5 per copy sold to help HIV positive babies.

But now, I have given away all the copies that I bought, and have to ask my female colleagues to give one to me if they no longer want the copy they bought. (Laugh)

æ: In your blog, you said that you would always inform your sexual partners of your HIV positive status... [According to the blog, Hugo met his ex-boyfriend in the gym, telling the latter straight before their first movie date that he had HIV. After the movie, he drove Hugo back to his rented house and Hugo plucked up the courage to ask: "Do you want to come up?" He replied: "I am looking for parking space." At the time, Hugo knew in his heart that this man was going to change his life.]

Hugo: I told my ex-partner the second day that I was HIV positive, I told him to consider the pressure and risks if we wanted to take things further. I didn't want to leave the issue in the future only after we had grown closer. I wanted to inform him in the first place, and let both of us have the right to choose. We were together for six years, and his recent medical report showed that he was negative.

I am now single and for my potential sexual partners, I would tell them "I am HIV positive". There are risks of contracting the disease not only in anal but also oral sex. If I had kept mum during the sex act without coming clean, I would face the moral pressure even with protection on. If you like someone and you have been through the inconveniences of taking the pills and all, you wouldn't want them to be in the same shoes.

æ: Do you have any regrets and what's in store for 2009 and beyond?

Hugo: We always have a lot of social commitments - to our work, our partners and our family - which don't allow us to go and do things we've always dreamed of. If you know you would regret, why not do it now? I am now single, and I want to go to different countries to participate in their gay parades. I want to learn how they promote LGBT rights and advocate greater awareness on the issue.

In terms of AIDS prevention, I still have to work and I don't think I can fully commit to that now. My EQ is low (laugh) and if other patients keep asking me the same question, I would be impatient. Many HIV positive patients tend to be depressed and would keep thinking of the same issue over and over again. I could offer them advice a few times, but you will have to be the one to get out of the mental trap and help yourself. In the future if possible, I would love to get involved in AIDS foundation work in Taiwan and help patients and their family members to get through the tormenting period.

Correction: The correct spelling of Hugo's lastname is Chang and not Zhang as originally published.


Reader's Comments

1. 2008-12-01 18:55  
What a great reading...! My biggest respect to Hugo, I hope he can be an inspiration for many.
2. 2008-12-01 19:04  
If more Stars would come out as he did the whole perception towards HIV + people would drastically change.
Hugo Zhang is not only beautiful from the outside but just stunning as a person. He will probably outlive us all :o)
3. 2008-12-01 19:13  
My Diva A*Mei~
4. 2008-12-01 19:51  
truly a unique person, one of great courage & spirit,
live long & prosper.............W
5. 2008-12-01 20:25  
Congrats, Hugo, and much admiration from a sexologist, sex therapist, and clinical psychologist.

It is especially tough to come out when you don't have to (when one does not fit a social steroetype) ...and especially courageous. In your case you came out of two closets into an unsupportive environment.

You have done a great service for more people than you know. Now it is for those who understand to offer you the support you deserve.
6. 2008-12-01 20:49  
Wish Hugo, a good man, good health and many happy days ahead. His optimism and positive attitude towards life is worth our learning.
7. 2008-12-01 20:53  
HUGO....u are not only steaming hot ....but also brave....which makes u even hotter...! Good luck with all your dreams and aspirations
8. 2008-12-01 21:59  
What a wonderful inspiration. SUCH a positive attitude. Hong Kong could use a well-known celebrity come out or come out in support of their dear friend with HIV/AIDS. Hugo, consider yourself invited to Hong Kong for our upcoming Pride Parade, Dec 13th ;-)
9. 2008-12-01 22:18  
What a kind heart!
'd love to be by your side^=^
10. 2008-12-01 22:24  
Hugo... I love you and salute you!!!
11. 2008-12-01 22:57  
I feel this article is quite superficial. We are led to believe that as long as your looks r still good, AIDS will not affect ur standing. In no way did this article show Mr. Zhang had to address adversity or hardships. It mostly focused on his nude photo shots and his happy happy life. Not everyone with AIDS leads such a happy life nor do they have the "poster boy" looks. AIDS is not a pretty thing and this article does nothing to show that.
12. 2008-12-01 23:06  
It's good to sing Hugo's praises and the more brave people who stand up and put a face to an often faceless disease- the better.

But I can't help but also spare a thought for our gay brothers who also suffer the same affliction and are not blessed with Mr Zhang's attractive looks and face a tougher road to acceptance.

If you discover any person is HIV+, no matter their looks or charm- don't forget to give them free hugs too!
13. 2008-12-01 23:29  
awesomely terrific!
14. 2008-12-02 00:07  
Hugo U are one great soul

U got great look and body

Most of all U got an attractive Attitude.

Hugo Boleh :)
15. 2008-12-02 00:13  
Your the man Hugo . I am so admire and proud of you anyway i will always wish you the best on your health and also hope that one fine day there will be a new type of medicine which can totally cure off your HIV virus , take good care my man.
16. 2008-12-02 00:24  
if u encountered hunk like this guy and u know he is HIV+
dare to have sex with him??
well, its not a problem actually, so wear ur CONDOM everytime...be responsible ;)
keep going HUGO dear...we'll all support u ;)
17. 2008-12-02 00:25  
dear hugo,
the will to live is powerful.. dont lose sight of it.. :)
you'll always be loved by us all..

3yrs ago, i shared a room with a close friend until he was tested positive.. then he moved out.. but we still keep in close touch..

so yea, i know how tough it is, to know someone who's positive, but i also know that being one, is tougher than tough..

i guess another bloodtest is impending seeing that the last one i had was in 2006...
Comment #18 was deleted by its author
19. 2008-12-02 00:54  
God give you the face of an angel !! you are the agel to inspire all who are being suffered and free their mind to follow your attitude !!
god bless you !!
Comment #20 was deleted by its author
21. 2008-12-02 01:06  
such a beauty ... well, lets stop fighting over trivial matters and address issues like prevention and ... also ultimately finding a cure for AIDS ... too many lifes lost already ... unnecessarily ... kisses
Comment #22 was deleted by its author
Comment #23 was deleted by its author
24. 2008-12-02 06:11  
g'day hugo my name is rob from western sydney and i'm very proud of you plus i/m hiv+ too
please can we chat on yahoo
25. 2008-12-02 06:58  
You have put a face to HIV that others can look at and say "It doesn't have to be the end of the world". Thank you for using your celebrity status to inform and educate and to fight for those unable to do so. we need all of the foot soldiers that we can get.
A big warm cyber hug is attached :)
26. 2008-12-02 07:13  
cheers man... u rock!!
Comment #27 was deleted by its author
Comment #28 was deleted by its author
29. 2008-12-02 08:48  
I am very disappointed with fridae's editorial staff. I think fridae's community would have been much better served and educated by interviewing a larger range of HIV+ individuals. The guy in NYC who is homeless with AIDS. The office worker who has been rejected by his company's health plan for being HIV+. The girl who was disowned by her family. Hugo may be a poster boy, but he is hardly representative of the HIV+ community.

Several portions of this interview strike a flippant tone and risk belittling what many HIV sufferers go through daily, especially those who are newly diagnosed. I can hear it now: "You're HIV+? Well, don't be depressed about it! Get a hot body and become a poster boy!"

Shame on fridae for not doing their homework on this one.
30. 2008-12-02 11:13  
"It was a hot, passionate affair when he gave a blow job - minus the protection - to a man while he had an ulcer in the mouth. Later, few feverish nights sent him to the emergency room, and the blood test showed that he was HIV positive."

That is the point!!!!
You may use comdoms whenever you have anal sex, BUT........do you ALWAYS use condoms when having oral sex? Are you sure you have no ulcer or any abrasion after brushing teeth in your mouth ??????
31. 2008-12-02 12:21  
wow .. thats very nice and brave ... a a mei is wif him ...
32. 2008-12-02 12:22  
Hopefully this up-beat (hardly "flippant") article about this young man is the first of many to appear in the fridae.com News/Features section, so that soulseeker's valid point and desire for broader coverage of the HIV topic can be met. Hugo made a choice to carry his positive attitude to the public and to take positive, public actions. That Hugo is young and beautiful does help Hugo cope with HIV and work with an otherwise hostile public audience, and his youth, beauty and energetic comittment also help People Like Us...ALL of us whether we're HIV+ or HIV-. Not all of us can or want to be a poster boy, but all of us can play our own important role to help those with HIV and to eliminate the stigmas still attached to it, if we choose to do so. Hugo is choosing to be a positive role model, a responsible contributor to society. Thank you Hugo for your work....live long and prosper!!
33. 2008-12-02 13:14  
wow, am I impressed with handsome young man. looked for years for someone like him in the states. hope to find him one of these days.
nice article , Fridae.
34. 2008-12-02 13:33  
heehee~ way to goooo!!! best wishes and sooooo proud of u!!!!!!!!

from ur dearest canadian frd 阿倫~~~XD
35. 2008-12-02 13:50  
caesar2003 #26

Come on, Hugo was profiled here because it was World Aids Day. On World Aids Day, I would have hoped for a much more informed piece of journalism from fridae. Hey, if they had even mentioned it was World Aids Day somewhere in the header, I might have been more forgiving. Instead, the powers that be gave us eye candy and the mostly drooling comments we got below confirmed as much.

This was truly a missed opportunity to start a dialog on how to reach out to those with HIV, especially in our fridae community. What do you say to someone who reveals he has HIV? How do you deal with a friend who is showing suicidal tendencies? Are there any lawyers who help fight HIV discrimination? But no. The question going through the heads of most guys reading this article was probably: how large is Hugo's cock and where can I see his pics online?
Comment #36 was deleted by its author
37. 2008-12-02 18:18  
I hope Hugo's story gives some guys courage to get tested. And this story probably also debunks some guys' belief that HIV+ people all look sickly so one can have unprotected encounters with good/healthy looking guys that they pick up.

Comment #38 was deleted by its author
39. 2008-12-02 19:18  
this is such a heart warming story... good luck on everything ahead

I feel the day for developing a cure for AIDS is closer and closer ... Don't lose hope and live a good life @)
40. 2008-12-02 19:32  
Hugo Zhang 加油 我支持你!!
41. 2008-12-02 19:38  
" Post #23 seoulseeker says (Posted : 02 December 2008 8:48) :
I can hear it now: 'You're HIV+? Well, don't be depressed about it! Get a hot body and become a poster boy!' "

u said it, i don't think it good way to encourage, esp HIV+, either
42. 2008-12-02 20:26  
Hi Hugo,

I didn't realize you were so famous until I read this article for AIDS Awareness Day. I am very impressed with your openness about HIV and your efforts to educate the community. You have a marvelous attitude and the courage of a tiger in such a conservative place as Asia. I wish you all the best.


P.S. Thanks for the big hug during the Pride Parade.
43. 2008-12-02 21:08  
I think its good marketing to put a face on HIV but a brilliant one to use a cute face.

However, I think the article is not a good and real representative of HIV at all. Have you heard of the constant diarrhea? Have you heard of the constant feeling of being tired and exhausted? Have you heard of the rashes and allergies? The regular illnesses? The fear when someone near you is coughing or has a cold? Have you heard of the costs of medications and the daily side effects that could last for years? How about the loneliness and sadness that life will never be as problem free?

Lets get real...... HIV is not a beauty contest!

44. 2008-12-02 21:16  
A great article about someone who has the courage and honestyto put himself out there !!
well done, and I hope those judgemental neg guys in our comunity take note.
45. 2008-12-02 21:58  
C'mon guys, lighten up!

Voices of Asian HIV+ people are few are far between.
Instead of slinging mud about Hugo being too "buff" or "not sickly looking enough" to be a HIV+ spokesperson we should be acknowledging the fact that his courage may help others feel more optimistic about their HIV+ status...

And even better outcome could be that Hugo's actions could encourage more people to get their status checked, knowing that with early diagnosis comes the better chance of a long, healthy and active life.

If anything Hugo's coming out tells you anything it's that you can't tell a person's HIV status by someone's looks, so it's best to be safe, always.
46. 2008-12-02 22:32  
The criticism expressed on the msg board is not directed at Mr Zhang but at Fridae for mussy journalism. The questions asked of Mr. Zhang hardly at all made one believe AIDS is a horrible disease and that people infected with it have to make hard life choices. As I said b4 in a comment, this article focused more on his looks (if u think he is handsome or cute, thats ur opinion, not mine) and his photo shoot. Mr Zhang, contrary to what some believe, is not a star or celebrity. I did not know him before this article, but I also dont hang out at California fitness. He is just a pretty face that has been put on the AIDS campaign, thats it. I dont see anything in this article that makes him inspirational. Arguable his life has changed very little since being infected with AIDS, and if it did, we would know from this shabby written article. I think FRIDAE users need to having higher standards of journalism and look bast just happy, "sunny" expressions.
47. 2008-12-02 23:32  
Wow - handsome guy. Do you have a profile on Fridae Hugo?
48. 2008-12-03 00:00  
i admired his extremely strong courage to stand out .......me too a hiv+ patient ,,but i consider myself lucky already than those who have kidney failure and cancer ...if i have got the chance i may want to meet you in person ....i was disnose for about ten years already but still very healthy because i think positively ,,and do plenty of excersise to boost up my immune system ,,,,,,,the greatest doctor in our body is our immune system anyone agree ???
49. 2008-12-03 00:31  
love&understanding & courage will always lead the
boat to the safe side.

tyson from bkk
50. 2008-12-03 01:26  
He has a great attitude and I salute him for being out about his status and educating people on how he contracted the illness. But the article is so focused on his looks and gushes over him as if that's the main reason for the coverage. If he wasn't attarctive, would fridae have even written a piece on him?

I think it's insightful of Hugo to recognise that too often, guys with the looks and the body in the gay world are, as he says "arrogant, self-centered" - hopefully it doesn't take HIV to humble these guys.
51. 2008-12-03 02:07  
Good on you Hugo...you are an inspiration....we are thinking of you and wish we could have one of your beautiful hugs.....you are a beautiful person!!! I wish you all the best in the world you gorgeous, open-minded and lovely man..... kiss kiss
Comment #52 was deleted by its author
53. 2008-12-03 03:05  
Comment #54 was deleted by its author
55. 2008-12-03 05:29  
Yes, Hugo is cute. Yes, the article is frivolous and trivializing. Perhaps it would have been a wee bit more helpful on World AIDS Day to compare and contrast Hugo in Taiwan with a Thanh in Vietnam or a Nasirudin in Malaysia. The differences in social stigmatization and practical medical treatments in various parts of Asia would, I think, have added a bit of substance to the froth.

I do note that most of us who want a little more meat live outside Asia in countries where HIV status in itself is no longer a big deal and where the need for adorable poster boys disappeared 15 years ago. The epidemic is, however, fresher and less well understood in Asia. Obviously, cuties like Hugo still have a role to play there. It will be a good sign when he is no longer needed.

I am a little concerned that Hugo's story of oral transmission may promote a certain paranoia or at least an exaggeration of the risks. Hugo seems to have been exceedingly unlucky or perhaps just simply mistaken in how he was infected. Oral sex was certainly considered a definite risk in the 1990s but more recent research suggests that the dangers are minimal if not negligible. Check out: http://www.aidsmap.com/en/news/8C50587D-7487-4440-BCFD-3AF7C9EE92C3.asp Also, in one 10-year tracking study of 100 couples where one partner was HIV+ and the other HIV-, there was not one case of the negative partner getting infected through unprotected oral sex.
56. 2008-12-03 08:01  
OMG! Pheramones, #47, is soooooo HOT.... *droolz* and *lolz*

MaYbe he CaN be my pOstEr boY fOR My OrGanizATion tHat HeLps mEnTaLLly deFiciEnt whiTe meN! God knows he's deficient enough, but more importantly, he's CUTE and MUSCULAR enough. I wonder if he can feel this CYBER SPOONING that I've giving him right now! PHERAMONES, pleeeeeez get in touch with me! I lOVe yOu!!!!! *droolz* again....
Comment #57 was deleted by its author
58. 2008-12-03 09:30  
re Post #48
oh seoulseeker...still pulling off wings from butterflies?... tsk tsk... i warned you once before that if u refuse to take your prozac i am gonna tell your mommy... now take your meds, calm down and try to be a good boy... u can do it!.... i know u can....and don't worry... even when u are a good boy, i promise to notice u.... hugs from your ever-loving semi-asian friend (i.e. moi)

and to all others, apologies for this public private tiff :)
59. 2008-12-03 09:48  
post#49 pheramones

I dont think 'seoulseeker' takes Prozac, but even if he does,( and there is nothing wrong with it) I really dont think you should be telling others publicly. It could be a private matter. Depression is a serious thing.
60. 2008-12-03 10:13  
Post #50 jupiter101..... sigh sigh sigh of exasperation.... you gotta learn about humour... like i explained to u before, it's "tongue in cheek" i.e. something that is said seriously but obviously not meant to be taken seriously i.e. a joke....and why don't you complain about him calling me mentally deficient? huh? huh? stupidity is a serious thing too, u know... (psst, joking here) :) ... anyway, from now on both wickedly clever seoulseeker and charmingly witty moi will insert little smiley faces whenever we are kidding around so that you will be able to tell that it's not meant to be taken so seriously, ok?

i would have liked to send u this by e-mail but i'm perkless and my message quota is exhausted. so sorry for littering this forum with trival posts.
Comment #61 was deleted by its author
62. 2008-12-03 11:09  
I discussed with several friends in Taiwan and we all agree that Hugo might NOT tell the truth and he probabaly had several times of unprotected ANALSEX which made him HIV+..........

63. 2008-12-03 11:19  
someone in this comment column admit that he is HIV+ too for 10 years!!!
BUT his profile says he is HIV negative on last test!!!!!!
64. 2008-12-03 11:56  
Hugo Chang said " But I told the doctor I was gay and asked him to do an HIV test. "

what does he mean by that??
that i am gay therefore i am more prone to HIV?

does a heterosexual guy say: " i am straight ad please do an HIV test" ??

or should one say " i practise unsafe sex therefore i need the HIV test' - - regardless of the person's sexual inclination?
65. 2008-12-03 13:28  
I just finished reading the article, and i was amazed at the nonsense and yes LYING in it. AIds has been existing for about 25+ years, in thoses years not once has anyone caught hiv/aids through there mouth. NOT ONCE. an to make it seem he has given a blow job with a ulcer an got it is ridicoulus. Unless he was gushing blood into his mouth there is no way he got it through his mouth,.Maybe he is saying this to sound not so graffic. But is he is going to be the poster boy for aids and talk about it.He needs to read facts and understand that what he says is not true.He would be the first person in the whole world to get it this way and i am sure he didn't.We all have made the mistake once or twice in having unprotected sex. he obviously made that choice as well.But when have you ever known anyone to use a condom while giving a blow job..... think about it
66. 2008-12-03 13:44  
Aids is not beautiful and the reality, that in order to to talk to asian gay men about aid/hiv is to have a so called cute guy on as the poster boy is crazy. When we see aids in america or africa or any place it is what it is. No makeup or streiod taking muscle boy glisstening.I can only laugh cause this is how they took the time to inform about aids.The effect is give them something good to look at or the will not pay attention is something my friends who teach elementary do to there students to keep there focus. But if you read the article, what information did you get from it?did it make you understand the disease any better? LOL i can't stop laughing at the comments wrote. hugo your so hot blah blah blah. Yay hugo you put a face on the disease. Are you people gone mad.where have you been the last many years. of children and woman and men dying and struglling and the ones who have lived and still living through it.Reality check ,,,,this make the gay community look so sad and outward focused. An it is the reality that if you are not sunny and gym proned you will not be so well received. I have had a uncle with the disease i have seen the real deal...and its nothing like poor self centered ego driven, nothing had changed for me cause i am cute blah blah nothing important to say hugo.
67. 2008-12-03 13:54  
Live on... to the max, Hugo... with dignity...
68. 2008-12-03 13:59  
Wow, such nice teeth he has and what a nice body, and great charisma! i am touched by the story and would gladly date anyone that is HIV positive-- its no big deal at all to me!

actually would love to ask Hugo out on a date, but i do hope someone can help him with that warddrobe, really that choker and lime green sweat shirt make him look like Mario Lopez in his Saved by the Bell days.

anyway don't discriminate against him cause he is perfect and beautiful . . .

but seriously he's a great attention grabber and his testimony has already helped a careless guy like me
69. 2008-12-03 14:09  
Food for thought: I had just revisited the (23) comments in "Action equals life: Nicholas Snow" which profiled an Bangkok-based American gay guy who recently launched a HIV awareness campaign/web site after finding out he's +.

I can't help but wonder why the comments to the 2 stories are so different. Why are readers obsessing about how the subject looks? I suspect many more readers relate to Hugo than to Nicholas and many of the 50+ comments below really say more about themselves and their attitudes than the subject's...
70. 2008-12-03 15:41  
Yes, it does seem this story is missing some teeth and some facts! It is interesting that everyone is focusing on Hugo's looks and magically HIV is not an issue because he looks good... The reality is that there is huge discrimination in our community towards HIV+ individuals. Some of Hugo's comments are extremely naive and laughable:
"If you have a positive attitude, most people wouldn't discriminate against HIV patients." Please, this is such veiled condescention. Not everyone copes well with HIV and having a positive attitude is not going stop discrimination.
Likewise " I want to be proof that AIDS isn't that dreadful." is a terrible message to send out on World AIDS day. Trying telling this to people living in countries throughout SE Asia where there is not widespread access to anti-retrovirals, good nutrition, gyms and positive support networks.
The risk of oral transmission of HIV is very, very low. According to the most recent data, the highest estimate of oral transmission of HIV is less than 7%. The problem with this figure is that incidence of HIV infection is self-reported. It relies on the absolute honesty of the infected person about their sexual activity to their GP. Hugo would have to have been extremely unlucky to have contracted HIV from a blow job. Oral sex is one of the safest sexual activities due to the natural enzymes in saliva and the lining of the mouth. Fridae could have worked in some facts here. Yes, you should take precautions when having oral sex: avoid sharp crunchy foods, flossing, brushing your teeth, etc. before oral sex. Keep some mouthwash handy so you have fresh breath!
Most appalling is that Hugo's message seems to put shame on those people in our community who are still struggling with difficulties and side-effects of HIV. The bottom line of this story is that if you look good and go to the gym HIV suddenly isn't a problem, no one will discriminate against you and all is rosy. Unfortunately, this is noone's reality.
71. 2008-12-03 16:38  
I will next mind dating a guy who is HIV+. AIDS is a disease in people's body, but AIDS-phobia is a sickness in people's mind. We should join force to fight against both of them.
72. 2008-12-03 16:44  
In the article - Hugo mentioned that if it wasn't for the infection, he would probably be an arrogant, self-centred guy and that the infection has caused him to be more humble.

(1) Good for him for realizing that arrogance can possible bring someone down.

(2) How unfortunate that someone has to get infected before realizing that arrogance and self-centredness get you nowhere.

Lesson Learnt - Who ever we are, where ever we are, what ever we are - do not think that pride, arrogance and self-centredness can protect us.

You can pick and choose who you want to have sex with - HIV does not pick and choose.
So please be safe! Or at least, do your best to be safe.

Take good care everyone, world peace.

73. 2008-12-03 17:18  
Kellen #59 is quite right. Go to related articles on "Action equals life". You will find a much better and personal article. Plus, you will not find people making frivolous about how the guy looks and how his story is so wonderfully inspirational. There is also a comment from one person complaining about the lack of comments about the article, saying it is a shame more people are not commenting. Kellen is quite right that having a poster boy reflects most peoples inane desire to forever looks young and hot and not face the future. Nicholas Snow in the article actually shows someone who has changed his life. Unfortunately he is not a "beefy, sunny big boy."

74. 2008-12-03 17:41  
what a good guy one wishes him all the best ahead, one thing though I always believed being HIV+ doesn't mean ill as the article implies, progressing to Aids related ilnesses is another matter. I know some good guys like this one, a shame not all HIV+ men are so ethical and brave.
Personally these days I take the celibacy option been almost 15 months now the best prevention is keeping your pants on...errr or your mouth shut
(:-]) depending on your 'vice'.
75. 2008-12-03 21:21  
I think the comments are more interesting than the article!
"Hugo Zhang (above and top of page, left) with well known Taiwanese pop star A-mei (middle)"????
But there is obviously the third person in the photo!! I don't think Jason Tan's report is objective.
76. 2008-12-04 00:24  
It is great that Hugo is brave enough to come out positive but I agree that the contents of the report are inane.
HIV patients have a shortened lifespan, 2/3 of an uninfected person despite HAART.
They face discrimination like no others.
In many Asian countries there is little option beyond first line generic HAART.
Chance of HIV via oral sex is minimal but not impossible if there is ejaculation.
I will have safe sex with a HIV-infected person that I happen to like; say no to HIV phobia.
77. 2008-12-04 23:21  
He got infected in 200, I am very supprised that he didn't went on for the the day after drung treatmernt procedure, you take anit-viral drug for 90 days. It will lower down the risk of converting to positive. It is a very common prectice treatment in US/SF specailly you know you had the classic symptoms, in high risk group, and had unprotected oral sex with open sore in month.
I am glad that he has come to term with his status, and served as a role model for all, speak out for the epidemic. Hugo, good luck to you, you have all my best wishes. Take care.
78. 2008-12-08 18:12  
AHhhh hao shuaiii ahhh and still got ai xinnn ...
79. 2008-12-10 09:03  
I find his route to contracting HIV very unconvincing and misleading. Think about it, it is one in a million chance that even having an ulcer and performing oral sex on someone would get HIV, unless the ulcer are more like sores, cut wounds like. Thus, I think he should be more honest and if the ulcer really hurts like hell or if it lacerates, he should not even perform oral sex. On the contrary, I do believe unprotected anal sex, orgy and/or drugs with sex are likely more to be the cause. I am not assuming but I just think he should come clean because it is very misleading to public that we gay people don't use our brain to think, and will do whatever when it comes to sex.
80. 2008-12-14 12:58  
I know Hugo. He is one of the most genuine, open, and honest guys I have met. I can't say that the story of how he became HIV+ is all that there is, but I don't think he is holding anything back intentionally because of what I know about him and his character. I know from experience that he does practice what he preaches. He informs guys up front and before meeting and he is not at all shy about doing so. He sticks to his principles, and I would trust him with anything. He is human, and he won't be perfect, but please don't put him down just because most guys aren't like him. He is different and should be a model for us in the areas talked about in this article.
81. 2008-12-22 04:25  
you are just so wonderful
u are very brave guy
its wonderful that you told your story on line for guys to see .
and i will love to hug any time
wish u a wonderful new year

big kiss and a hug
gadi from los angeles ca / usa
82. 2009-10-26 14:30  
i salute u...

what a good motivating true story, for my fellow friends, AIDS is not the end, think positive!

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