The Bubble Burst
Thank you for your contribution to HIV disclosure to sex partners.
“We have to give our opinion, we have to say something, or we are a part of it. As an artist I am forced to say something”. Ai Wei Wei
What we need is to address the reality of HIV on the dating scene which cuts through social class, power, resources, politics, gender, race and ethnicity, to bring messages to the public about efficient ways to discuss HIV and sex. Why are people in such denial? Why do they think HIV happens to only marginalized group of people and that it could never happen to them? Why do intelligent people refuse to address and understand the importance of including HIV discussion in any dating situation? Dating involves sex and sex may involve contracting HIV. Here is a sampling of comments I heard around town recently, which left me feeling somewhat frustrated and discouraged in this fight to eradicate HIV.
“There is no discrimination or stigma here, it only happens in small rural areas where people live in isolation”. “I cannot be associated with anything relating to HIV because I have a high public profile in this urban community.” “I cannot have my name associated with HIV because I work in politics and I don’t want anything to tarnish my record or my reputation in the future if I get elected to represent the public”. (Are we to assume it will be an HIV free public?) “There are no HIV positive people here, you would have to go to the gay village for information about that”. “He is Black so he must have HIV”, “I don’t know anyone who is HIV positive”.
It is 2013 and we are still hanging on to the mentality, that if we do not ask about HIV, do not talk about HIV, and continue with existing discriminatory based information, then it does not exist within our circles. This phenomenon is a direct reflection of ideology and practices on a larger, institutional level which trickles down into individual consciousness. Activists, historically, bring institutions up to speed with what is taking place in reality, on the ground. Having this information is crucial to create realistic messages and approaches to the general public about sex, HIV and safe play. The message must reflect the voice of people and the reality. If not, institutions will continue to deviate, with a message that is not always proficient. The message will not be in keeping with decisions people are making about sex and HIV every day.
How can we change powerful forces which prefer not to acknowledge reality and continue to cling to ideas and practices based on denial and fear? As the reality of HIV is silenced, how does this contribute to stigma and the HIV pandemic? It is always best to have an understanding of the reality and of our common goals in searching for solutions, because the bubble is going to burst and we need an adept plan in place when it occurs.