A young journalist from Britain writes that the LGBT community needs a stronger and more effective HIV/AIDS prevention program:
Craig’s story brings home the reality of barebacking – a reality missed by the glossy HIV prevention adverts and messages aimed at my generation of gay men (I’m 23). Those responsible for the ads, organisations such as the Terrence Higgins Trust and GMFA, the gay men’s health charity, insist that harder hitting representations of life with HIV do not work and that they stigmatise those living with the virus.
But I believe that a refusal to show the harsh reality of HIV is encouraging attitudes like that of one of the three men infected. John, 22, told me and Newsnight (video) that he wasn’t bothered he had HIV, and that being gay he always knew he’d get it. Time Out’s Paul Burston told the debate’s audience of a conversation he’d had with a 22-year-old in Liverpool, who said he was more worried about catching gonorrhea than HIV.
Yet instead of giving us a picture of what our lives could be like if we bareback, they choose to “empower” us. They do that by saying: “If you are the active partner you’re less likely to get HIV” and “If you withdraw, then you and your partner are at less risk of contracting HIV.”
When was the last time you were told that if you’re going to drink drive you should opt for a bottle of wine instead of tequila slammers? Or saw the withdrawal method advocated to prevent pregnancy?
The very nature of sex, when arousal clouds your judgment, means even stronger messages on safe sex are required. You need an authoritative voice at your shoulder, not a voice as clouded as your judgment telling you that you’re at less risk if you do this or that.